No one is perfect. I think that’s an important enough lesson to repeat right off the bat, so I’m going to say it one more time for those in the back. No one is perfect. But that’s okay, the world would be a lot more boring and a lot less interesting if everyone was perfect. There’d be no diversity, no thrill, no adrenaline – and it’s long been proven that diversity actually leads to larger profit margins and higher overall revenues. That’s a story for a different day, though. It can be tempting, even easy at times, to look at success stories and to lose ourselves in the dream that these household name entrepreneurs like Mark Cuban were always that successful. That simply isn’t the case though.
Not only is this not the case, but it’s actually a dangerous myth to start believing because it can very easily begin to corrode at your own motivation and drive. It can start to warp perceptions on what success is, and how long or how easy it should be to find on a large scale. Most entrepreneurs, though, never even reach the height of the people who are coming to mind. There are more entrepreneurs whose name you’ll never know or hear, than those who you will. Not only that, even the entrepreneurial names you do know, like Gary Vaynerchuck perhaps, didn’t start off with nearly as much success, clout, or fame as they have now.
It’s important to understand that most successful people and successful entrepreneurs fail time and time and time again before they find the avenue that elevates them. The main characteristics that successful entrepreneurs share is determination and perseverance. As Thomas Edison said upon inventing the first iteration of an electric light bulb, it wasn’t that he failed 99 times previously, he just discovered 99 different ways to not make a light bulb. Modern entrepreneurs need to embody this very same spirit if they’re to survive the savage and hyper competitive world of entrepreneurship.
“The path of entrepreneurship is scattered with successes and failures, long days and hard work. There are days you wonder why you launched the company. On other days, you are so glad to be bringing your idea to life. In reality, starting a company is easy. But building and growing a company is tough.”
– Parna Sarkar-Basu, Forbes Councils Member, Forbes –
1. You Won’t Know Everything and That’s Okay
There are many lessons that a new entrepreneur will learn almost immediately upon entering and starting their new venture. One of the first things that people often learn when setting out on their entrepreneurial venture for the first time is just how little they actually know. Even with a stellar product or service idea in mind, there is a lot more that goes into starting and running a business continually, than just having a product-idea.
“Being an entrepreneur isn’t an easy task, especially if it’s your first time trying to launch a business. It’s scary, and it can definitely take some getting used to. However, if you keep at it for five years or so and haven’t quit, you probably won’t ever want to do anything else again.”
– Brianna Bitton, Founder, Flo Vitamins –
Before jumping into your entrepreneurial dreams, it can be helpful to conduct a pretty thorough self-evaluation. Consider where your expertise is, and how much industry knowledge you’re already bringing to the table. After successfully identifying your personal skill sets and the areas in which you’re already well-versed, you should also pretty clearly be able to identify the areas you could improve in or learn more about.
From here, you have a few options, you can take the time to learn the skills and information you still need to acquire, or you can start building your professional team to cover your skill and information gaps.
“Some people like to do it all on their own when they’re starting out, and more power to them. Me, though, I knew where I excelled and where I wanted to focus my time and energy, so I found someone to partner with that would handle the other areas of the business I didn’t want to deal with. That’s worked out for us quite well, I’d say.”
– Bryan Jones, CEO, Truckbase –
2. Trusting the People Around You
For many entrepreneurs there comes a time where expansion is no longer a choice, but a necessity. This typically means it’s time to start hiring additional people to help you realize your dreams. Again, before you start bringing people on board, it’s important to know what type of help you’re looking for and in which areas. For instance, if you’re busy working on existing clients constantly, you may need someone to handle sales and another person to do your accounting. That way, you can continue to focus on servicing high-value accounts that already exist, while your team diligently works to bring in new business at the same time.
“I’ll never forget the first sales person I hired. It felt a little bit unreal and I definitely don’t think I knew what I was doing quite yet, but once they came on, growth just took off. I was a little shocked because it was so clear to me that selling wasn’t my strong suit, yet I’d been doing it myself for years already. That was a pretty humbling moment.”
– Ryan Rottman, Co-Founder and CEO, OSDB –
When it comes to scaling an entrepreneurial venture, there’s simply no way for one person to do it all. Although hiring should be an exciting thing, it can also be a little scary because you’re actively releasing some control over the operations of your business. This is why it’s so vital to bring people on board who are committed to the mission and vision of the brand. Conduct a thorough interview process before making your first few hires as it can save headaches down the line.
“Delegating isn’t something I’ve ever been very good at, but I had to learn real quick once I started managing a whole team of people. It’s just unrealistic to expect one person to manage every aspect of a growing company. I learned that lesson the hard way.”
– Nabiha Akhtar, CEO and Founder, Lil Deenies –
3. It’s About More Than a Paycheck
Entrepreneurial ventures are often born in passion, not in the pursuit of a paycheck. With that in mind, this is a vital aspect of an entrepreneurial venture and spirit to keep in tact. If the venture becomes a money-grabbing-ploy, it won’t hold the interest of investors, consumers, or even team members.
“Most successful entrepreneurial ventures don’t start out with the expectation to make money. Most of the time, they’re born in the face of a glaring industry-need, or as a way to advance and better society. It’s about passion, purpose, and an intent to do good.”
– Matt Woods, Co-Founder and CEO, SOLD.com –
While money is a direct component of any successful venture or organization, and there is a ton of money floating around in the entrepreneurial industry, these funds are typically directed toward ventures that have not only proven themselves profitable and viable in the modern marketplace, but have also shown a dedication to the role they play in bettering society as a whole through innovation, and product development designed to solve problems.
“Entrepreneurs are built differently. They think differently, they respond to adversity differently, they respond to risk differently, they’re driven and motivated differently. It often isn’t about the money, which is why the money eventually flows.”
– Cesar Cruz, Co-Founder, Sebastian Cruz Couture –
4. Quality Over Speed
One of the most important lessons that entrepreneurs seem to learn when they’re starting out is that quality matters a lot more than speed. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to make or develop your product if the end result is better than anything currently on the market offered by competitors.
“Quality over quantity applies in entrepreneurship as well. Angel investors and venture capitalists are putting their money on the line in order to back your success. If your product doesn’t significantly impact the marketplace, you’ll likely find it hard to garner interest in.”
– Michael Fischer, Founder, Elite HRT –
Think about Steve Jobs and Apple. Not that Apple isn’t full of operational and humane issues itself, but the way that the company started: Steve Jobs in his garage, a drop out, focused on inventing something that the world had never seen before. The first Macintosh desktops were born, and now in 2022, almost everyone in the world has a smartphone in their pocket. Essentially, this is all thanks to Jobs.
“There are a ton of stories like that, too. Highly successful people who did it on their own, they’re rarely seen as ‘normal’ when they’re first starting out. Success is almost never one-size-fits-all.”
– Gabriel de la Serna, CEO and Founder, Onpost –
5. Focusing on one Thing at a Time
In the same vein as quality over quantity, it’s better for starting entrepreneurs to focus on one thing at a time, rather than trying to bite off more than they can chew.
“In my first venture I was trying to do way too much all at once. I was trying to bring 3 products out all at once, managing clients, selling, cold-calling, accounting. I wasn’t doing anything well, that’s about the best thing I can say about that.”
– Omid Semino, CEO and Founder, Diamond Mansion –
By focusing on one product or service at a time, you can start to establish your brand and organization in that field, and then grow from there.
“Best piece of advice I can give a young entrepreneur is to be easy on yourself and to take things slow. You’ve got years to get it right.”
– Ryan Delk, CEO, Primer –
Wrapping up on Early Entrepreneur Lessons
No one is going to step up to home plate at Wrigley Field and hit a homerun without ever swinging a baseball bat in their life. The same is true about entrepreneurship. It will take time, it will be ugly at moments, and it might even make you cry; but at the end of it all, if you believe in your cause and your product, and you don’t give up in the face of adversity, you’ll find yourself in the most fulfilling career you could possibly imagine.
“Find a mentor, educate yourself, take calculated risks and learn from your failures, because I can tell you that there’s nothing like creating your own company to engender personal and professional pride and satisfaction, and hopefully make the world a better place in the process.”
– Jason Hennessey, CEO and Founder, Hennessey Digital –