The Biggest Lesson I’ve Learned as an Entrepreneur : Under30CEO The Biggest Lesson I’ve Learned as an Entrepreneur : Under30CEO
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The Biggest Lesson I’ve Learned as an Entrepreneur

| March 30, 2011 | 6 Comments

business decisionIn 2008, I started a blog about health and fitness because I wanted to share my story of learning how to be mentally and physically healthy. Fast forward 3 years to present day, and that blog has turned into a company that designs and produces fitness bags for people who are serious about fitness. Along that sometimes-bumpy path my co-founder, Ryan, and I received lots of guidance from advisors who wanted to share their experiences so that we might avoid the many pitfalls of entrepreneurship.

We are forever grateful for the guidance that we’ve received, both in the form of in-person discussions, as well as, in the many business books we’ve scoured, highlighted, and dog-eared. Yet there’s one overarching lesson that I think successful entrepreneurs learn, and that is that although having mentors and/or a team of experts to fall back on is fantastic, ultimately you’ve got to make the final decision on what’s right for you and YOUR business.

A New Way of Thinking

In school and in the corporate world we are taught to listen to our professor or our boss. Because of this, we learn to stifle that inner voice inside of us and to instead rely heavily on what other people tell us to do because {supposedly} they know better. When you are a noob start-up, it’s easy to fall back into this way of thinking, even though this lack of creative freedom may be one of the reasons you decided to start your own business in the first place!

I’ve had a lot of tough conversations over the past 3 years, some of which were actually with other well meaning business owners who were (in their own way) trying to help by showing me the ropes of entrepreneurship. They told me the horror stories of what could potentially happen in particular situations, they warned of the odds against our business and our idea, and they filled me in on the challenges they’ve experienced, which they believe will likely happen to us as well. We’ve definitely had more than a few scary moments where we questioned our sanity for even entertaining the idea of starting a business. What were we thinking?

Ryan and I both had experience in the corporate world, but we didn’t have any experience as entrepreneurs. We didn’t know how to write a business plan and we had barely any experience with Cash Flow Statements or Balance Sheets. In fact, the list of what we didn’t know was probably longer than the list of what we did know. But we learned. We made mistakes, we said foolish things sometimes, and we learned. We have a passion and a will to share a product that we believe can really help people, and we let that combined with our ever-strengthening intuition, drive us through the tough times.

That is one of the things that many entrepreneurs don’t understand, or recognize, when starting out. You’re going to stumble and you may very well fall, but you get back up again and that is all part of the process of learning how to become the person that can handle the type of business that you want to build. And as you travel the path, you develop the skills and you retrain yourself to tap into your intuition first and foremost once again.

Intuition: Your Greatest Ally

Your intuition is your greatest strength, or in a sense, your greatest ally. Don’t get me wrong, advisors are extremely beneficial, and having a team of experts to fall back on, especially when you are in the thick of tough decisions is really important. Having these resources has been crucial to the success of our business. Yet there is a fine line between seeking out advice, evaluating, and then making the final call based on your gut versus just doing what someone else tells you to do. If you are not careful, the latter can lead you down all kinds of paths that veer far off of the course that inspired you to start your business in the first place.

How many of the game changers of business, especially in the tech world, do you think followed their intuition first and foremost? Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Tony Hsieh, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, Henry Ford, and these are just several of the big, recognizable names – they’ve all created things that most people said couldn’t be done. Do you think they were successful because they listened to their advisors first and foremost, or do you think they were driven by something else? Their success wasn’t just due to hard work and listening to what other people told them to do. Their intuition was their ultimate decision maker.

So the next time you open a business book or sit down for a chat with an advisor, remember to listen, take notes, and ask questions, but leave the final decision making power to the authority that matters most – your intuition.

Sheila Viers is the co-founder of Live Well 360, a company that is re-inventing the fitness bag because on the road to health and fitness you need a worthy companion. Live Well 360’s first bag, the Core, has been featured in Oxygen Magazine and Shape Magazine, as well as, on top fitness sites like FitSugar.com and dailySpark.com. The company’s blog has also been named one of FITNESS Magazine’s favorite health blogs. To learn more about Sheila and Live Well 360, please visit livewell360.com.

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Category: Personal Branding, Startup Advice

  • http://www.merchantservicesales.com/ Stephanie

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  • http://www.globalattackmixtapes.com/ Kale

    I think that having mentors is important not so much for guidance but because we need someone to keep us honest. Sometimes just having a fresh pair of eyes looking at a problem can help us make sure that we don’t make tremendous mistake. We all have different backgrounds and should take advantage of that.

  • Pingback: The Biggest Lesson I’ve Learned as an Entrepreneur | Under30CEO | Accounting and Small Business /Beverly Shares

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

    Agreed Kale. I think it’s crucial to have an outside pair of eyes looking at what your doing. It’s tough to look at your own ideas and see problems with them, everything always sounds great!

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    Great sharing and loved reading this article. I feel intuition is the greatest thing which guides us through our destiny. It is certainly a great ally as you have mentioned.

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