Maybe you’ve been dreaming since childhood that one day you would invent something amazing and start your own company. Or you taught yourself code as a teenager, all the while scheming to build the next great web property. Or you’re a secret risk-taker, trapped in a corporate day job — and now you’ve got a chance to start that business you’ve always imagined.
I know you. I’ve met you. In fact — I am you. We’re entrepreneurs.
As someone who has launched five companies, I’ve learned a few things over the years. And like other successful entrepreneurs, I love to encourage and mentor rising startup stars.
So here are my five tips for you — the dreamers, the coders, the risk-takers.
We live in an intense and ever-changing era. Markets have crashed. Jobs have disappeared. Industries have been disrupted and are being remade.
But if you’re an entrepreneur, to a large extent your destiny is in your own hands.
And in the new economy you can achieve financial independence on your own terms. You have the power to be as successful, perhaps even wealthy, as you want to be. This is a key insight for any entrepreneur, and a driving force in my own life. Owning my destiny, particularly my financial destiny, is scary at times — but it’s also empowering. Use the fear to power yourself to new heights.
If you’re a new startup or small business it can be difficult to see why you should invest in your brand and reputation.
It’s expensive and time-consuming. You’re not trying to battle with the big brands — yet. “But what about the future?” You may ask yourself You must keep your eye on that future because, ultimately, reputation is everything in business. Your brand is the shorthand way people think about you.
Yes, you’ll have to miss dance recitals and soccer games. Yes, you’ll lose out on a social life. But if you don’t pay attention to the details — customer service, how you are perceived by the outside world, how your company’s image is perceived — you won’t be successful. Why? Because business success comes from returning customers.
We always teach our kids not to be afraid to fail and to pick them up and try again. They can’t know all the answers before they start learning, and neither can you. So listen to your own advice. Don’t be a perfectionist when beginning your adventure in entrepreneurship.
Later on, once you’re established, indulge your perfectionism in your product and customer service. But in the beginning, it’s cheaper and better to try, and then try again and again until you get the product right.
So iterate and repeat. Nailing your niche usually takes a few attempts.
Take a risk and just do it.
And also love it. The word “passion” is sometimes overused in business, but when it comes to entrepreneurship, it’s a necessity. You must be passionate about what you build because you will spend most of your time working. That’s the reality of starting and owning a business. It’s also the joy.
Millions of people have listened to Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement speech at Stanford, and for good reason. He nailed the passion issue: “You’ve got to find what you love… Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”
And that’s my most important advice to you: Do it. Love it. Don’t settle for less.
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