Winning Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs – Part 2

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As an evangelist of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education, I speak often to groups of students and entrepreneurs.  The last slide in my presentation is always “Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs.”  In my Winning Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs – Part 1 Blog Post, I discussed the first 5 of 9 pieces of advice I give to audiences whom I address. They are:

Integrity

Do It Now

Great People

Focus on Your Customer

Be Flexible

Here are the final 4 bullets:

Build a Culture EarlyI believe that the Right Culture is one of the 5 keys to building a Hypergrowth company.  And it’s never too early to build the right culture.  The minute you hire employee #1, you have doubled your company headcount.  Your startup is a reflection of you, your values, and your vision.  In order to get your team focused on the mission and how to execute, you need to make sure they all subscribe to YOUR values and vision, i.e. your culture.  Write your mission, vision, and values down, and communicate these constantly, in company meetings, emails, memos, etc.  Give frequent recognition and praise to those who embody aspects of your culture.  If you can have your teammates all living the same culture, you will have a huge competitive advantage over other companies in your space.

Be Persistent – Even the “best” startups fail.  And I bet most fail because the Founder gave up too soon.  It may take you 5 years or more to get to breakeven, so go into your venture knowing that succes will not come easily.  It takes energy, time, effort, sweat, and a little luck.  But if you hang in there and persist, you will get some breaks along the way and you will start to grow.  My company, CyberRep, took 4 years to hit $500k in revenue.  It was a long slog to get to that number.  Countless all-nighters, 85-hour workweeks, and sacrifice.  But we persisted, and by being in business and hanging in there, we started to get some breaks and we leveraged those breaks into little wins.  Then the little wins became bigger and bigger wins.  If we had given up early, we’d have never grown our company to $80 million.

Overcapitalize – When raising money, it’s very important to raise a little more than you need. I have seen so many entrepreneurs spend all their time in capital raise mode, when they should be spending time with their customers and building their team.  Raising money is a big distraction, so you need to make sure you have enough cash to get you to your destination instead of filling up many times along the way.  It’s OK to give up more equity because your payback will be in terms of time saved (and invested with your customers and team) as well as the fact that you’ll reach your destination sooner. This is one of my points in a prior Blog Post about Raising Money.

Have FUN!This is the most important piece of advice.  Life is short, and it flies by quickly….so if you’re not doing something you love, you are basically wasting your time. You have the power to change your situation, and the sooner, the better!  If you’re going to do anything, including starting a business, make sure you enjoy it. Sure, there will be many bad days filled with stress and disappointments, but success is all about doing your best and enjoying the ride.

Thanks very much for reading.  What do you think?  I’d love your feedback and thoughts, so please Comment below…and please sign up for my Blog too!  (See the Signup box on the sidebar of my Home Page)

Featured image courtesy of Robert Scoble licensed via creative commons.

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8 thoughts on “Winning Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs – Part 2

  1. This is a great post, Tien. I love how you mentioned culture as an important thing for entrepreneurs. I fully believe in that too. It’s the reason I fell in love with Zappos even though I still haven’t used the service they offer.

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  2. I’m all caught up on your Blog and love it! I read every post and every comment. You’re definitely a true leader, Tien. I’d work with you any day. Thank YOU for all your kind words to others. You have the integrity to reply to every comment on here. Most successful/busy entrepreneurs just post and let people go to town on comments without coming back to let everyone know they’re listening (example of not showing up). This little detail is a perfect example of you living the culture you speak about so often in your Blog Posts.

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    • Hi Masoud, thanks for the very nice words. I learn from your and others’ Comments, so if someone takes the time to read and make a Comment, then I’d like to acknowledge it. It’s the least I can do. Thank you for reading. You have the “Eye of the Tiger” and are well on your way to doing really great things. Stay focused, my Friend!

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  3. Hi Tien. By chance, I stumbled across your Warren Buffett post, then I found myself reading just about everything on your blog. Great information! Im a 23-year old student from New Zealand, and material like this is what helps me to get through my education and to persevere. Keep them coming! Thanks!

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    • I’m so happy to hear this. Our future is in the hands of young folks like you. You have the opportunity to learn from mistakes of the past and make things better! Remember that and good luck!

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  4. Great advice in parts 1 and 2 for the aspiring entrepreneurs. I especially like your advice about being persistent and having fun. Frustration certainly can pop up when things don’t work out as planned, but focusing on why you created your own business can help. And having fun is a huge goal. Sure, it’s great to make money — and have it spring from your own business. But having fun while doing that? Now, that’s amazing stuff.

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