It’s not easy being an entrepreneur. But it is easier if you know some things to do and not do.
Here are a few lessons on growing a business:
—The customer is not always right. Usually—but not always. Bend over backwards to please every client or customer? Even when they’re wrong? That’s not good for anyone—especially you.
—People—even friends—will screw you over. It would be nice if this weren’t true. But it is true. And it’s one more reason to separate your business life from your personal life. Especially when money is involved.
—Time really is money. You can get more equipment, you can get more people, you can get more supplies—but you cannot get more time.
—Hire people who are smarter than you are. Some people are intimidated by that prospect. Not me. And as soon as I find someone smarter than I am, I’ll hire…I’m kidding. I hire the smartest people I can find. You should as well.
—Work/Life balance. Maybe it’s me, or maybe it’s entrepreneurs in general, but I can’t turn it off. And I have to be the same me wherever I am. But I do try to manage my schedule (instead of the other way around) to have maximum time at my home and with my family.
—Hands-off vs. hand’s—on. If you have just started a business and you’re not a major VC-funded place or silver spoon guy, of course you’ll be hand’s on. But when the business grows, you have to know when to back off—and that can be tricky.
—You can’t operate in neutral. You have to keep your foot on the gas no matter what.
—Work hard, relax hard. Running a business can be stressful. Wait—did I just say that. Can be? Always is. And it’s an office job. So I need (and my body needs) physical activity. Exercise bike? Not exactly.
—Sluggish body means sluggish mind. On a ^ related note, if you sit on your ass all the time, eat snack food and drink soda, your brain will turn into mush. And you’ll be tired all the time—even during the day. If your body slows down, your brain slows down also. Moral of the story?
—You should only do the tasks that only you can do. Sounds simple, But isn’t. Not because you can’t trust other people to perform tasks flawlessly (although, there is that to consider) or because you are a control freak (no comment), but the really hard part is stopping doing some of the parts of the business you really enjoy.
—It’s all about making decisions. You can’t lose sleep over them—and some people really do. If you’re the boss, you make decisions all day long. And you can’t go up on a mountain and ponder your answer for a few weeks. If you aren’t good at making quick, reasoned decisions, get good at it. And fast.
—Sugar works better than vinegar in almost all situations (almost). Did your mother tell you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar? She was right. (But not always.)
—Always push harder. If that’s the question before you—should I push harder, or not push that hard—push harder. Having a baby, opening a door that’s stuck, getting the best out of someone…push harder.
I’ll be writing about these individual topics at length in the coming weeks. Be sure to read them all and let me know what y’all think.