7 Things I've Learned

Things I’ve Learned

I was reflecting today on my journey as an entrepreneur. It feels really good to be doing the work I’m doing at this stage in my life. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to talk with so many different types of people in different businesses and industries. It’s quite invigorating. While I’m clearly still on my own path of continuous learning, I learn things from everyone, and there are some things I’ve learned from entrepreneurship that I wish I’d have paid attention to sooner.

Actually, there are 7 things I’ve learned, to be exact. I hope some of them resonate with you as they have with me.

1. Don’t get the last word in.
I am a passionate, fiery kind of guy. Somewhat stereotypical “Type A” if you will. Over the years I’ve fought to the bitter end on some things that, upon reflection, really weren’t that important. I had to win. I had to have the last word. How silly. I wish I’d have known that sometimes the best “last word” is nothing at all. Let it go and move on.

2. Learn to enjoy the small things more.
It’s easy to enjoy the big stuff. Most people can get excited about significant events in their life. What about the little things though? The small victories along the way are not often celebrated. I can think of several “small” things in my career that I now look upon quite fondly. I wish I’d have spent more time enjoying them when they were happening. Not everything comes with a big red bow on it. Look for one anyway.

3. Don’t worry as much about what people think.
Notice I said “as much” at the end of that sentence. Those that say they don’t care what anyone thinks about them, ever, are either way too comfortable with themselves or quite the opposite – extremely insecure. I have insecurities, too. I look back on life I think there are times I let them weigh more on me then they should have. It’s healthy to “care” about what others think of you (in my opinion). However, it’s unhealthy and a waste of time to spend too much time thinking about it.

4. Take more risks sooner.
I’ve taken my fair share of risks over the years. I still wish I had taken more and taken more sooner, too. For most people, the older you get, the tougher it is to take risks. While entrepreneurship is by no means only for the young, the younger you are (in theory) the less responsibility you have. With less responsibility comes the opportunity to take bigger risks since less is at stake. I would have done some really big, crazy, wild business stuff in my 20’s if I had it to do over again.

5. Make time for service.
Notice I didn’t say “find time” – you have to make it. In the past few years I’ve started spending time during the work week doing service on a few non-profit boards and such. The occasional opportunity to speak to schools and other groups come up now and again as well. It is a lot of fun. Service is something that you can search for, and find, very easily. There are a lot of people who can benefit from whatever skill or time you are willing to share. Don’t wait until you can “afford” the time or money to help. Do more now. The more you serve others, you more you actually help yourself. Funny how that works, eh?

6. Spend more time with fewer people.
I am very fortunate to have a couple of friends that I’ve been close to for over 20 years. I’ve realized that while I love meeting new people and spending time at certain events, the most fun I have is when I’m with old friends. Time is finite and you have to choose where you spend your “free time” especially carefully. My first choice is always to spend time with my family. When I’m not with them though, I find myself choosing to hang out with old friends more and more. That means I go to less events, do less “networking” and meet fewer people. That’s okay though.

7. Embrace change.
I have always known that change would be a part of my professional life. It’s the path of an entrepreneur, right? Even still, sometimes I’ve fought it. I realize now that not only is it inevitable, it is often healthy. Spend more time thinking about where you are going and less time thinking about where you are. Viewing the life ahead of you instead of the life beside you makes change a lot easier to understand. I’ve grown to enjoy change and that’s made life a lot more enjoyable.

So those are the 7 things I’ve learned. I’d love to learn from you. So would other readers. What have you learned that you’d like to share? I hope to read some good suggestions in the comments.

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About Alex Lawrence

Alex has been a successful entrepreneur for 20+ years. His current venture Lendio ranks #34 on the Inc. 500 list. Alex earned a BS degree at the University of Utah and his MBA at Weber State University, where he is Vice Provost and Director of the Entrepreneurship Program. If you want to talk with Alex about business and entrepreneurship (or other questions), email him (alex AT startupflavor DOT com), or you can find him on Twitter @_AlexLawrence.
  • Yaakov Bloch

    sounds like the deathbed exercise – where you imagine yourself in your death bed and think about things you should have done more of, things you should have done less of, things you regret about, and things you wish you would have done before you die, however, you can now go back from your death bed and focus on the important things (hopefully you still have more time to live).

    for example, spend more time with family, worry less, enjoy small daily things (such as a shower)

    • alex_lawrence

      Hi Yaakov – thanks for reading the post and commenting.  I’d agree that a lot of people, when on that deathbed you describe, feel many of these same things I’ve written about.  Hoping that isn’t me – or you!  Spending more time with family and worrying less are indeed two things I hope I don’t wait until “the end” for.  Cheers.

  • Awesome post Alex!
    Great lessons you shared. I agree with your points. Spending time with old friends is the way to go. I cherish it so much. Yeah, young entrepreneurs can still do crazy things in their 20’s by taking risk in business, by the time they get older they will blend in. I mean they will have had success with one of their businesses. 
    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • alex_lawrence

      Hey Samuel – always good to hear from you. Hope you are well. Thanks for your support and for reading…

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  • Sean McNeely

    I especially like the insight you gave on taking more risks sooner. Risk can be hard for some to deal with no matter what their age, but often people get wrapped up in losing a few hundred or few thousand dollars and don’t realize how great of an experience they could be missing out on whether it ends up making them money or not. I’m just a broke college kid, and sad to say, often fall under that same bad philosophy.

    Great post! I liked seeing the link on twitter.

    • alex_lawrence

      Hi Sean. Where do you go to school and what are you studying? Glad you found this from Twitter. Say hi there sometime, too.

      Oh – and take more risks now man! It’s easier when you have less to lose!

      • Sean McNeely

        Actually I go to school at Weber State, and I’m studying Supply Chain Management. I have heard you speak twice on entrepreneurship and your history in it, and enjoyed it both times.

        I’ve been a member of WEA since last year and try to make it to all of the meetings and leech off of the great minds there. I feel that most of my ideas have already been done some how or just don’t have a demand in the market, but I’m trying to stay active with it and improve my knowledge so when a good idea hits I’m ready to go give it a run!

        • alex_lawrence

          You are at WSU?  Come say hi!  I’m in 317 Miller Building.

  • Great
    list… Being an entrepreneur is not the easy choice. The realities
    behind being your own boss are sometimes hefty and very liberating at
    the same time. I might add balance to the list. There are a lot of areas
    to develop and they are very important to balance when you chose to be
    self reliant. Health, spirit, continuing education, love of nature in
    addition to the other topics mentioned like service, friendship,
    confidence. Thanks, Alex. It’s a great time for me to be thinking this
    way as I am sure it is with many others.

    • alex_lawrence

      Hey Jennifer – nice to see you commenting here, too.  Have you read my post on this site about “balance”?  Might be of interest to you.  I’m glad this one made you think though, and thanks again for the comment.

  • Levite3

    This was helpful to read. It gives me some
    things to keep in mind as my husband and
    I are in the beginning phase of entreprene-
    urship. Its difficult because even though we
    are still in our late 20s, we’re married with
    4 children so we have a lot to lose.

    although we have far to go in this, what I’ve learned is that the hardest thing is to start.

    • alex_lawrence

      I’m glad it was helpful.  Good for you that you are going for it – even with 4 kids!  It is very hard to start, so good for you.  Care to share a link to your business?  What is it you are working on?  Keep us posted.

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