7 Things I learned as an Entrepreneur in the past 6 months : Under30CEO 7 Things I learned as an Entrepreneur in the past 6 months : Under30CEO
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7 Things I learned as an Entrepreneur in the past 6 months

| July 29, 2009 | 24 Comments

Alexander_the_Great*This is the first post in series about ‘Entrepreneur lessons and mistakes’. Aside from being a person who has committed atrocious stupid mistakes in life, I also made numerous missteps in the past 6 months I’ve been out of college trying to successfully launch 2 start-ups at the same time. So far the only thing I have to show is plenty of gray hair at 21 which is why I decided to write this series to help fellow entrepreneurs learn from my mistakes. It is said that “only a fool learns from his own mistakes, a wise man from the mistakes of others.” What are you? A fool or a wise man/woman?*

These are the lessons I learned.

1. This sh*t is hard – Entrepreneur is not a job, but a lifestyle. Get used to late hours, 14 hour work days and best of all, getting absolutely nothing in return. Ask any Entrepreneur you know and they will tell you they wouldn’t have it any other way.

2. People are going to say NO to your idea and NO to you, A LOT – They are not evil people or even bad people, just people who don’t see the potential in your idea. I’ve been told no plenty of times and it doesn’t get any easier.

3. Your best ideas come when you are not thinking about it-  You know the story about Archimedes finding the Law of Buoyancy while taking a bath and running through streets shouting “Eureka,” naked? I’m not saying we should all take baths while trying to solve a problem, but it helps sometimes to stop thinking about the problem. You want to run the streets naked shouting “Eureka,” but I think there is a law against that behavior.

4. Read like crazy, especially when you are busy – If you haven’t figured it out already, the amount of knowledge needed to run a successful start-up is exponentially greater than the amount of knowledge you currently possess. Sure you can’t replace experience with reading, but that’s no excuse to making a stupid mistake which could have been avoided by simply reading a book.

5. There are two types of books you should read – Ones that teach the right attitude and the ones that teach the right skill. ’7 Habits of Highly Effective Men’ by Stephen Covey falls in the first category and ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen and ‘Effective Executive’ by Peter Drucker falls in the latter category.

6. Hiring is a herculean task – Picking your team is more important than almost everything else in business. You can have a killer product, no competition in sight and millions in funding, but if you don’t have a good team, you are going to ultimately fail. Even when you have all those things going for you, it will nearly impossible to find the right person; think of when you have none of it going for you.

7. Its easier to be a great leader than a good follower – Hannibal led his soldiers from the front, Caesar’s mere presence in the battlefield caused his men to fight harder and Alexander was nearly killed fighting in the front lines. What are you going to do? Are you going to be in the sidelines shouting orders or are you going to get dirty in the field?

senthil

This post written by contributor Senthil Nambi, check out his project http://twitlens.com. He writes a blog “chronicling the life of a twenty something entreprenuer who just recently learnt how to spell entreprenuer.”

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Category: Startup Advice

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Senthil, this is an AWESOME post. I really like your attitude, how you tell it like it is and you start it off with “this shit is hard”. This is exactly what we are looking for.

    I'm also interested how you ended it here with “its easier to be a great leader than a good follower”. While, I'm not sure that is totally true, I like where you are going with it. For some people it's easier to be a great leader, while others would rather follow. The key is putting the right people in the right places to excel. To me it is easier to lead, but others are great at following directions to the T.

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    Damn right its a lifestyle. I never feel like I'm work its just like life I'm living and I love it! But it is not easy and everyday is a new adventure. That is part of the fun but make sure you know what your getting yourself into!

  • sarahshawdubois

    I am so loving this! You are going to make it for sure with this attitude.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Not everybody is cut out to be an entrepreneur, but if you are the possibilities are mind blowing. We want people to feel a real connection to U30 when they read like they are part of a unique club of young people who feel like life is full of unlimited options. Whatever we do as young entrepreneurs we want to do it big.

  • http://www.twitter.com/johnexley JohnExley

    Nice post Senthil, I love the quote “A fool learns from his own mistakes, a wise man from the mistakes of others”. That's good stuff, and the reading that you push us to do in points 4 and 5 can provide the invaluable lessons of learning from others, whether it be others' successes or failures.

    I am curious as to your hiring practices that you reference in point 6 – I can only imagine how difficult it might be, but how have you gone about it in your two start-ups thus far? Have you hired friends with strong work ethics, diverse skillsets (compared to your own and each other's), and deep interpersonal trust; or have you not considered friends (and risking their relationships through business) and only hired experts you have met through interviewing, etc.?

  • http://twitter.com/senthilnambi Senthil Nambi

    Thanks for the comment guys, really appreciate it!

    @JohnExley

    I was pretty lucky enough to find a business partner early on that was on the same brain wave as me. But since then I've been having a hell of a time finding the right people to work with. I'll be sure to go more in detail about your question in the upcoming posts.

    @Matt

    I was always under the same impression also, but after being on both sides of the aisle, I learned that it is easier to lead than follow.

  • http://twitter.com/morgenkaffee Michael Michalowski

    I really think point seven is one of the most important facts. be a leader.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Senthil– Keep leading. Posts like this will get you known for it!

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    @JohnExley–people who have taken 30 years to learn stuff and come out on top write a book. Why not learn from these people who have devoted their life to figuring this stuff out? If they've figured it out, I want to learn. Furthermore if their teachings have helped others and you are hearing lots of testimonials why not give it a shot!

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    You've got it Michael. If you are an entrepreneur you have to lay out a vision and get people to execute. It's your number one priority–everything else that the company does follows suit. Also combining #6 and #7 is key–hiring people who don't need to be told what to do and can lead others. As the founder or CEO you have to relinquish some of the leading to others, or better yet, empower other people to lead for you!

    If it's their decision to take on a project they'll be much more apt to do it diligently than if they are ordered to.

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  • http://twitter.com/morgenkaffee Michael Michalowski

    I really like how you care about your comments! :)

    I got a idea after reading your comment. It sounds fun but we are all founders or CEOs of our own life. So we can lead everyone in our enviroment with our attitude and our actions. I dont mean telling what to do but to be a leading person who's path others want to follow. Thats another way to influence and lead. Be a guide. An example. a role model :)

    I hope its not too much off topic ;)

  • http://twitter.com/senthilnambi Senthil Nambi

    “If you are an entrepreneur you have to lay out a vision and get people to execute. It's your number one priority–everything else that the company does follows suit.”

    Excellently said Matt. That definitely goes on a post it note.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Michael, I'm glad you are enjoying the comments. It's community that we want at Under30CEO a bunch of people working together towards similar goals. If we can come together to discuss topics like this it'll make us all better business people.

    I agree that we are CEOs of our own life–we always say we are people that think “life has unlimited options”. The more we write about this and become good examples of people “living the dream” the more we become leaders in this respect. It's living a path that others want to follow if they choose.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    There is top down leadership and there is bottom up leadership. If you get everyone else to buy into your vision it's top down leadership. If you let them create their own vision and trust their instincts it's bottom up!

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    I think its very important that as CEOs we all lead people. We can't make anyone do anything or tell them exatcly how to do it. But we sure can give some guidelines, some inspiration and something to look-up to.

  • http://twitter.com/jfeldstein jfeldstein

    Great post, Senthil, you hit the nail on the head: Doing this is going to get a lot harder before it gets any easier. If it ever does.

    I can say from recent experience that hiring is really a pain, but its worth mucking up now to get right later.

    Glad to have you on board.

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  • http://www.ProfessionalEncourager.com Threedot

    Great article Senthil – This stuff is hard, and it only gets harder as your responsibilities grow. If you are young and single, NOW is the time to be an entrepreneur. You only have yourself to worry about, and for the most part, you can live lean without impacting others. Thanks for your insight, I hope you post here often.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Threedot, you are as young as you think you are my man. Remember: Colonel Sanders started KFC with his social security check!

  • http://www.ProfessionalEncourager.com Threedot

    Couldn't agree more Matt – but the less responsibility you have for others, the easier it is to make the sacrifices you need to make to be successful. I plan on being very successful, because I won't quit trying until I am, but it will take me longer. I have to do things more carefully since I have a family to provide for.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Threedot you are doing the right thing my man. The goal is to provide for your family so they can all live the dream. I see an empire heading your way very soon. Hopefully U30 will be your inspiration!

    Let's chat about your projects soon.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Threedot you are doing the right thing my man. The goal is to provide for your family so they can all live the dream. I see an empire heading your way very soon. Hopefully U30 will be your inspiration!

    Let's chat about your projects soon.

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Threedot you are doing the right thing my man. The goal is to provide for your family so they can all live the dream. I see an empire heading your way very soon. Hopefully U30 will be your inspiration!

    Let's chat about your projects soon.