In 2003, I started my first business. It was a fitness company called “The Fit Image.” We offered in-home personal training and massage therapy to upscale individuals in Southern California.
I was a new entrepreneur at the time and had slowly built up a strong clientele and a few loyal employees. Looking back, I made lots of big mistakes. I hurt people I worked with, missed out on killer opportunities, and was insecure as a leader.
Seven companies, $18 million, and over 100 employees later, I have identified most of my blind-spots. I've made the mistakes and now understand how to avoid them. Of all my experience as an entrepreneur, here are my top three mistakes to avoid in your early years.
1. Employees Are Not Like You
As an entrepreneur, we sometimes believe the rest of the world shares our disease. But they don't. Most of society is completely content with working for someone else and letting their dreams remain dreams. Early on, I made the mistake of expecting my staff and vendors to work like me, think like me, and act like me. But creation is your gift, not theirs.
Speak to employees how they need to hear it, not how you want to say it.
2. Be Transparent But Don't Forget Your Position
A mentor once told me, “Entrepreneurs get paid well because they bear the weight and responsibilities that employees don't have to.” I remember I would often find myself complaining to my staff about how hard it is to run a business. This was not healthy transparency. It was prideful complaining and I had no good reason to share it. This is pressure and workload that was required of me, not them.
It's lonely at the top. Deal with it or go work for someone who can.
3. Success Is Not About Money But Freedom
The entire entrepreneurial arena is so ridiculously focused around money that people who work 80 hours week and make $200,000 per year think they're successful. In my opinion, they just have two $100,000 jobs.
Success is freedom.
If you're capable of keeping expenses low and eliminating debt, then making $6,000-$9,000 per month is likely sufficient. If you can make that in 10 days per month, that's what makes you successful.
“you can always make more money but you can't make more memories.”
Are you a new entrepreneur? Have you defined your blind-spots? What have you learned so far?