Startup Lessons from the Masters

It’s been said that it’s more pleasant to learn a lesson from someone else’s mistakes than it is your own. If not for the resources lost, for the pride. 

“It’s going to be lonely, but that’s okay.”

When it comes to starting your own business, it’s just you and your idea. While working in a previously established business alongside your coworkers, there was a laid back and communal spirit. You always had someone to talk to, to dream with, and to laugh alongside. When you step out on your own to start your entrepreneurial journey, you’re doing just that: you’re stepping out on your own. It’s going to get lonely at times. You might even wish you were back at your desk, surrounded by grey, scratchy cubicle walls. Along the journey, you will have to remind yourself that this is only temporary. If you work hard and push through, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You’ll get to the place in your business where you’ll be able to hire employees or even find a business partner with which to bounce around ideas. The loneliness is temporary, but the reward is satisfying. 

“Just because you’re doing things, doesn’t mean you’re going places.”

Do you remember that little, wooden train track set you might have gotten for a birthday or Christmas one year when you were just a small child with a happy grin? Just as soon as you had it unwrapped, you were eager to set it up. “What is the quickest way I can get this thing set up and running?” you wondered. Of course, a circle. The most straightforward shape to form. You put all of the pieces together, set the train on the tracks, and watched it as it traveled around, and around, and around. Was your train truly going anywhere? No! Just because it was moving, didn’t mean it was making any real progress. In your business, you can go through periods where it feels like you’ve been running yourself into the ground, but you’ve gotten nowhere. In these times, you have to ask yourself if you’re really doing anything or are you just running in circles. Focus your efforts on the things that matter—race towards your goals with ambition and a plan. Be strategic in what you focus on and what you set to the side. Just because you’re doing things, doesn’t mean you’re going places. 

“Know your strengths, but know your weaknesses better.”

There’s value in knowing your strengths, but there’s power in knowing your weaknesses. By understanding the areas in which you fall short, you’re able to have a clear idea of where you need help. Don’t be afraid to outsource and take things off of your plate. There’s no shame when it comes to admitting that you’re not the strongest in any given area. Your business is almost guaranteed to be healthier and last longer, not to mention you won’t be as likely to get burned out if you allow yourself to give the tasks you can’t handle out to someone else. If marketing isn’t your thing, no sweat! Find someone who specializes in marketing and give yourself a break. Do you prefer not to handle the accounting aspect of your business? There are companies out there who specialize in that. Is sales your thing, but you can’t develop a product to save your life? Find a product developer. Tell them what you’re looking for, answer a few questions, and then hand it over. The drastic decline in stress you will notice after doing this will astound you. 

“We all make mistakes, and that’s exactly what’s supposed to happen.”

If you operate your business without running into a single mistake, you’re either an anomaly, or you’re not rising to your full potential. Mistakes are a part of progress, progress leads to wisdom, and wisdom leads to success. If everyone in the world never made a mistake, we’d get nowhere. Did you know that Penicillin, chocolate chips cookies, and microwaves were all mistakes? Can you imagine if no one ever made those mistakes? That’s not a world we would want to live in. Allow yourself the ability to fail, and when you do, dust yourself off and keep trying. You might have the most groundbreaking business idea ever to grace the mind of a human being, and that would be mind-blowing! However, sometimes our thoughts and ideas can sound better on paper, and that’s okay too! Take a step of faith. Go out and work as hard as you can towards your goal, and when you do fail, don’t give up. What if your mistake is the one that will change the world?

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