I have the privilege of being involved with an exciting entrepreneurial movement at my MBA alma mater (Weber State, where I now also work).
As part of my involvement, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time with one of Utah’s best entrepreneurship experts, Alan Hall. Alan is a huge supporter of the University. He is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees and is also the Chairman of the Board for the WSU Foundation (of which I’m Executive Director). As Alan visits with many here at the University, I’ve found that he consistently shares some comments centered around the following premiss:
Business experience can payoff in more ways than money.
I couldn’t agree more! It can be easy to distract yourself so much with making money or raising capital that you miss out on the experience needed to build a great business. I know, because I’ve done it.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success, he repeatedly mentions the “10,000-hour rule”, claiming the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.
He’s right. To build a great business you must practice!
I can not emphasise this enough. If you want to succeed, spend 100% of your efforts learning and understanding what it takes to get your business up and running, living and breathing. Practice is indeed really the only sure way to perfect.
Trial and error
Learning how to run a business takes a lot of focus and is generally a learned skill. Very few people are born with the ability to run a company. Trial and error is the best way to really learn how to run a business.
Get too caught up in raising money and your bottom line, and you will miss out on many of the day-to-day operational decisions that no one other than you should make. No one.
The experience gained from making all the decisions of day-to-day operations is critical to your progression as an entrepreneur. At some point you will likely divide and delegate, but it should only be after you know every nook and cranny of your business personally.
As an entrepreneur not focusing all your efforts on making money or raising capital may seem like a foreign concept. When I first got started, money was all I focused on. I paid less attention to the experiences associated with the creation, operation, growth and exit of the business. As a result, I lost valuable time gaining the experience (and success) I needed.
Hindsight is 20/20.
There is no way I would have been able to understand this post 10 years ago the way I understand it now.
It is so clear to me the experiences I’ve had shaped me into the entrepreneur I am today. It wasn’t the money I raised or made. Those are merely byproducts associated with the milestones of my career. Important ones at that, but still, byproducts of doing the actual WORK.
If you are thinking about starting a business, DO IT NOW. The sooner you get started the better. Once you have enough experience, making money becomes almost second nature.