5 lessons about starting a business that I learned the hard way
“Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.”
In life, you need to make choices - what you want to eat, where you want to study, what you want to do, whether you want to take up a well-paying job or start a business of your own, and many more. It is the result of these choices that reflect what we are in life. Success or failure depends upon what we chose and how badly we worked for that decision we chose to follow.
I am what I am because I chose to be this - I chose to be an entrepreneur. And, becoming was not a cakewalk. I had to face hardships. I had to go through so many ups and downs - and the journey continues as I continue to lead ProofHub. With this post, I am going to highlight five lessons about starting a business that I learned from my personal experience.
Here it goes -
1. You cannot do it all by yourself
I had a dream to run my own team and have a business since childhood. I started working towards this dream as early as anyone possibly could in life. During the initial few days, I was the one who was doing everything. From designing the website to giving my inputs in the development. From marketing ideas to handling support queries. I thought I could do everything on my own. How wrong was I!
There came a time when everything became dependent on me and my decision - and I always had more on my platter than I could handle. I was losing it all - I could not focus on any of the aspects and hence things started to turn from good to bad. This was when I came to the realization - “I need to share the responsibilities. I cannot handle everything on my own, forever!”
"Focus more on work and less on management."
2. It works like a sine wave
Before starting my career as an entrepreneur I worked a regular 9-5 job with one of the IT companies. I was leading a team of designers, and things were always pretty smooth. We used to have company paid parties, fixed salaries were drawn into the account on the scheduled date. Life until that point was a smooth ride.
It all changed when I started my stint as an entrepreneur. Things were never smooth. Some days were good, some were bad. Life moved ahead of a sine curve. There were extreme highs and then there were extreme lows. During all this, the one thing that saved me was the virtue of patience.
Not getting too excited during the extreme highs and never losing hope during the extreme lows - this helped me survive that phase.
3. Adapt or you will be left behind
It is important for an entrepreneur to have a plan. But that’s not all. The plan must always have a back-up, what if things don’t turn up the way you intended them to in the first go? You need to be adaptable in that situation. Sticking to the plan is important, but you need to adapt to evolving times.
For instance, product development strategies must be centered around customer behavior, which is ever changing. So, you cannot stick to one plan for long. As a leader, you are the one who has to take this call for adapting to changing times.
A great example of poor adaptability - Nokia mobiles. They did not keep their pace up with changing times, and today we all where Nokia mobiles are today.
4. You must not follow every advice
Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, and they will have one for your business too. It is quite easy for anyone to comment and advice while sitting on the bench - like they do in a soccer game. It’s the players who are battling it out in the field know the reality.
You cannot stop anyone from giving their opinion, however, which advice to keep and which one to leave depends upon your sanity. You must not take every word seriously, and not try to follow every advice.
You’ve got to be smart enough to know what’s the best for your business, segregate the good advice from the not so good one. And, based on all these take decisions that are the best for your business.
5. You either win or you learn
As the last point in the series, I am going to share the biggest lesson I’ve learned being a leader for more than 11 years now. There are no failures in life. You either win or you learn.
This journey as a leader has made me learn a lot of lessons. From being better at analyzing people and situations to learning how to keep a team together if you want to succeed - the list of lesson goes on and on. It does not end ever.
And, this is the biggest thing I’ve learned in my life. You will fail only if you will accept defeat. If things are not going the way you wanted them to, mend your ways to adapt your business towards the circumstances at that moment.
This was my list of lessons I’ve learned after starting my own business. Do you have something more to add to it? Is there something you’d like to share? If yes, go ahead and post your comments.
If you liked reading this post, here are some more which you are surely going to love -