1. Know your numbers
You must know all of them, and how they work together. Peter Decaprio says It would help if you understood the methodology behind the calculations to understand what drives these values, where to focus your efforts, and when to change course. This all comes down to one thing: investing in business intelligence.
2. Allocate time for company culture
Arguably, this is more important than any other task or goal that requires attention during your day (and certainly more important than meetings) says Peter Decaprio. Businesses are built around their company culture; it gets people excited about coming to work every day, which keeps employees empowered and confident enough to make decisions. It’s what makes customers rave about companies.
3. Invest in your team, your product, and market differentiation
As per Peter Decaprio, this is one of the essential things for any company to focus on. With all the distractions you face every day, it’s easy for this to fall by the wayside says Peter Decaprio. If you don’t have a talented team that meshes well together, if they’re not excited about the work they do, or if they aren’t dedicated enough to put in long hours towards building something worthwhile, then you’ve already failed at this step says Peter Decaprio. Likewise, if you don’t have a differentiated product, or even worse – it is simply another me-too product with no fundamental differentiating factors. Your success doesn’t come down to how good your idea is – everything after these two points is irrelevant because no matter how good your idea is or how much you work on it if nobody wants to use your product, the business will fail.
4. Don’t give up
We’ve talked about this before, so I won’t belabor the point here – just know that giving up is never an option. It doesn’t matter if you have months without revenue or customers or users; there are always options and opportunities for partnerships, re-allocation of resources, etc. If you want it enough, it’s possible to make things happen for yourself.
5. You can do something amazing
There are plenty of people out there who will tell you otherwise – that you don’t have what it takes, that only the people who were born into wealth and privilege can ever “make it,” that you should just get a corporate job and be happy with the status quo.
They’re wrong. You can do something unique – something that you’ll look back on years from now and think, “that was my company” (or not, if you decide to shut it down). But either way, I think we can all agree that your business will not solve world hunger or end global warming; we hope instead of making money and providing value to others while building something lasting in the process. That’s okay – as long as you keep those things in mind as guiding principles. There are no limitations other than those imposed upon yourself by giving up, not trying, and listening to naysayers.
Five tough lessons we already learned about entrepreneurship
1. It’s not as glamorous as it seems
In the beginning, everything seems perfect all of the time – you have a big vision that includes growing your company into a multi-million-dollar business entity with a massive valuation and a robust enterprise value. Peter Decaprio says still, nobody knows how long it will take for this to happen. Once you hit those milestones – launching your product, getting enough users so they can’t be ignored any longer, closing your first round of funding, or going out on your own (if bootstrapped) – then reality sets in. You’re still nobody special; you’re just another business owner who needs to get out there and hustle.
2. You’re going to have a lot of bad days
Everyone has bad days, but you’ll have many more than most people because the work is different every day as an entrepreneur. Plus, you’ll spend a lot of time working alone or with your co-founder(s), so not only will you have a longer list of things that went wrong during the business day – it’s possible those problems were preventable had any number of other people been around to help solve them. Countless things could’ve gone better, but at least on those bad days, you can always remind yourself that tomorrow will be another opportunity for success as long as you don’t quit.
3. Salespeople will make you want to tear your hair out
Particularly if you have a B2B product, then you’re going to deal with many different salespeople who may or may not be familiar with the intricacies of your particular offering. They’ll lack knowledge about their own companies’ guidelines and restrictions. Which can cause problems for everyone involving as they attempt to push forward deals that should’ve never start in the first place.
You may also find yourself having to play “bad cop” when dealing with these same folks – people don’t always listen. So even though a given sale has been approved at various levels within a company, there’s still no guarantee that it will happen. If something goes wrong or if they want more from you than you’re willing to offer at that time, then you’ll be the one who has to deliver the bad news – no matter how diplomatically you choose to say it.
4. You have no idea what “stress” really is
It’s all relative, of course – but being an entrepreneur brings with it a kind of stress most people can’t even imagine. The stakes are higher than they’ve ever been before, so if something goes wrong or even if everything seems fine, but your latest round of funding just fell through, then suddenly you’re on edge for weeks at a time.
You don’t have the luxury of being laid back about any problems that come up because, mostly than not, there’s no else around to help work things out – you’re it. Whether it’s a massive PR crisis or just trying to get your website back up after an attack, these are the moments when most entrepreneurs wish they had listened to their mothers and gone into accounting instead.
5. You’ll find out who your real friends are
The family loves you no matter what, but even good friends who were there with you through thick and thin may bail on you now that you’re running your own business. There will be times when all of the people around you expect things from you – whether it’s referrals or favors or simply showing up at events to support them, but for whatever reason won’t reciprocate in kind. When this happens (and it will), don’t take it personally – take it as a sign that you need to re-evaluate your relationships. On the other hand, don’t be surprise when people who were never in your corner suddenly want to pitch in and help.
6. You’ll eventually come out stronger on the other side no matter what happens
Even if you fail and go back to your old job, there’s a silver lining: You’ll be a better employee once you’ve been an entrepreneur. You won’t take things for granted or expect people around you to always pick up after your messes because that’s what employees do – as an entrepreneur, you’re responsible for everything from marketing and PR to hiring and firing as well as cleaning up all of those minor problems that crop up unexpectedly no matter how trivial they may seem at the time.
This experience is invaluable that most people never get to have – even though the odds are against you, at least if you go down in flames, you can say that it was an honorable way to end your journey. Plus, there’s always the chance of making a comeback – this isn’t over until you decide it is.