Learning starts right from the moment we are born, even though we may not consciously remember every lesson we learned we still practice them everyday because our subconscious is much more powerful than our conscious. I am a student of life, I love to learn, be it a skill, sport, technology, philosophy or anything for that matter and what I enjoy more is sharing what I learned. I believe in sharing because it helps you spread the knowledge, help others not make the same mistake as you did and helps you learn and remember those lessons even better. Now, I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 14 when I started a comic book rental company and since then I’ve started many businesses and like every other human being and entrepreneur, I’ve learned quite a few lessons along the way. This post is an attempt to document and share those lessons, in an attempt to help you not make the same mistakes as I did and revisit these lessons myself…
- Journey of a thousand miles, starts with one step. Action is what counts so, take action, even if its not a very significant progress towards your business, this step would get the ball rolling. Do it.
- Solving a problem or filling a gap is the only way to entrepreneurship. Be a good observer. Look at the current players and their services, interview a few customers and identify a problem or issue with current product and service. Then, solve it.
- KISS – Keep it simple, stupid. No matter what you do, nothing beats simple, be it a business plan or an email communication or anything in between. Staying simple would make you far more efficient and save a lot of time, headache and money too.
- Help comes where you expect it the least from. So, network. Talk to anyone and everyone, tell them about your business when they ask what you do, soon you’ll master your business pitch and be connected to lots of people.
- The “right time” is a delusion. Tell me about one thing you did in perfect time…Perfect timing doesn’t exist. It’s either now or never. What’s your pick?
- Don’t Try to do it all by yourself. No one can. So learn the art of delegation and outsourcing.
- Don’t Fall in love with your idea. This one is the most important because you don’t want to blindfold yourselves to the feasibility part of the business. A business in order to be profitable has to be feasible and sustainable.
- Not everyone is as excited about your business as you are. Yes, and that includes your friends and family. So, try to gauge the interest level of people before you ask them for partnership and/or any help.
- For entrepreneurs, failure doesn’t exist; it is mistakes. Not everything you do is going to be a success so, learn to learn from mistakes and make the best use of that experience to turn it into a success next time. Remember, the only difference between losers and winners is that losers quit when they fail, winners fail until they win.
- Always have a plan B. Plan B, according to me is Plan B(est). Not everything you plan would work out the way you planned simply because there are way too many micro and macro elements in business and market that are out of your control.
- A business needs a plan to be successful. You don’t need to write a 100 page business plan to dust on your shelf, but you need to jot down a quick and actionable plan to guide you through the process. Yes, you need a business plan, even if you are not seeking loans or investment.
- A business needs a system to be successful: A business without a system is merely a job you’ve bought for yourself. You’d still be trading hours for dollars and would stay in a rat race unless you build a system to scale your venture.
- Learn to say ‘No’: Enough said!
- Avoid business with your “friends”: Be very careful in setting up expectations if you’re working with friends. You don’t want to ruin a good relationship/ friendship for anything. So, make sure you keep the communication open and transparent, avoid polarization at any cost, appreciate (express that you do) the help, and most importantly try to manage and not boss around.
- Partner with friends: Although contradicting to lesson#14 (above) Avoid business with your “friends”, a friend in need is a friend indeed. This is very important, friends who stood by me when I was in need, made me realize how fortunate I was to have them as my friends and I knew I could count on them. Make sure you don not put them on test again and be there when they might need you.
- Don’t fritter the earnings right away: Save for the rainy day, save for the shiny day… You have no idea how wildly your cash flow may fluctuate in a startup setting so, set aside some savings to fund those dry days or weeks.
- Money matters: You are in it for money, make sure you make money. Changing the world is great, doing what you love is great, but check the financial viability or sustainability for the idea otherwise you won’t be able to do it long enough for the first two reasons.
- Money does NOT matter: May sound contradictory to the #17 above but it is not. If you’re in it ONLY for money you’ll be outrun sooner than you could imagine, do something because it solves a problem, it fills a gap, it makes a difference and not just for quick buck.
- Never Lie: It’s a small world, be truthful, because a lie has a very short life and it will not help you get far enough…
- Luck favors the bold: As an entrepreneur, it is a practice to get out and make luck work for you and the only way to do it is hard work and bold moves.
- A big goal is only achieved when every little thing that you do everyday, gets you closer to that goal…
- There’s a big difference in giving up and changing directions. Be savvy and sensible enough to realize if something is not working you need to change the direction. And the fact that you’ve to change the direction doesn’t mean you failed or that you’re giving up.
- Ignore the naysayers: Oh these guys are idiots, in most cases these are the guys who never did anything themselves and they want to keep the rest of the world just like them. When you see a naysayer, just look at him and ask yourself, do you want to be like him. If yes, follow what he’s saying and if the answer was ‘no’, ignore the guy and stay away from him.
- A coach is necessary. I once heard a wise man say “we are so immersed in doing what we are doing and what we think is right, that we miss the obvious”. And a coach helps you not miss that obvious and hence succeed.
- Accept faults: Accepting a fault is the best way to deal with the situation. You can either keep wasting your time and brain on arguing a fault or you can accept it and move on. I have gained more respect whenever I have said, “I stand corrected”.
- Accept criticism and act on it: Listening is very important and especially to those who are thoughtful enough to give you constructive criticism. It is easy and pretty ego inflating when everyone is telling you how awesome you are but make sure the constructive criticism never goes unheard.
- Writing helps. Write your goals, reminders, tasks, dreams, plans, write everything. Writing helps your sub-conscious program our mind in much a better way than if you just keep thinking of those.
- Dreams are always out of comfort zone, so you need to step out of it.
- Sow the seeds of opportunity. You know the old saying, do a good deed every day; I have a similar philosophy about opportunities. Make sure you seed at least one opportunity a day, it could be searching and connecting with a potential client or it could be connecting two people in your network who you think can benefit from each other’s connection, or anything these are seeds of opportunities, they’ll fruit in future.
- Learning never stops. I love to learn and share what I learn. Please take a minute or two share your lessons and help me learn more
Devesh Dwivedi is an entrepreneur who helps cubicle imprisoned aspiring entrepreneurs break out of the 9 to 5 cubicle jail and start their business. More info: www.entrepreneurinmaking.com
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Category: Startup Advice