I have a notebook filled with great advice I received and quotes I have collected over the past three decades. I periodically read the book and laugh at all the mistakes I have made in spite of the words of wisdom from others. But what about the best advice I didn’t receive? If I had the opportunity to sit down with my 20-year-old self, what is the one thing I would say to him about being an entrepreneur or my 30-year journey of discovery?
I decided to ask some of my friends and family the same question. Below are their responses as well as mine. As you read their comments, keep in mind something my friend Norm Brodsky once told me:
A smart man learns from his own mistakes; a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.
The best piece I never received and I had to learn the hard way was “delegation.” When I finally developed “faith” in my right-hand man that he could provide the same quality, service, and care that I knew I could, that’s when my business blew up (from 1 sports medicine center to 40 centers). Live while you’re alive – now! ~ Pat Croce
Here is what I wish people had told me (but no one did). Take vacations, get more sleep, manage your time, don’t forgo a salary as a startup, and lastly, you don’t have to feel guilty every time your say “no” to someone or something. ~Rieva Lesonsky
Don’t buy new if used will do. Watch the variable expenses because they will usually vary higher if you don’t watch them. You are almost never off on weekends. Make potentially bad situations a priority; they almost always get worse if not addressed immediately. ~ Colin Moran
Being smart is your admission ticket to the play; nothing more and nothing less. We can never rest on the laurels of our education or even our experience or expertise.
Clients expect excellence, creativity, innovation, empathy and opportunities to deliver value-added services each and every day.
Be complacent and you will be left behind. ~ Andrew Sherman
Starting and running a business is all about discipline and organization. It is a business; not a hobby. Do more with less. Don’t get the fanciest office space, and gadgets. Don’t start off with every single employee you “may” need. Don’t pay top dollar with top benefits. Shoestring is the name of the game until the concept gets off the ground and brings in revenue. Make sure bills go out promptly and payments come in promptly. And for those times when there is a hiccup – have a backup plan. Most businesses fail in the first year because they are undercapitalized. If your expectations exceed your reality – you will be one of those businesses in the dustbin of failure. ~ Siobhan Moran
Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there (Will Rogers).
Even when you have the greatest idea or best new product ever made – the tough part will be convincing customers to stop what they are doing and either try or pay for something new. You must listen to them, be patient and persistent. Lastly, add six months to one year on every one of your projections. Pay attention to the plan you created for your business because it will surely change before your very eyes. ~ Fields Jackson Jr.
Failure is a positive asset in building your business. As long as you learn and evolve from it. Don’t repeat the same mistakes. Embrace failure, learn and evolve from it.
Ego is the greatest killer of the best ideas and businesses. Keep yourself grounded and objective.
Patterns are all around us and everywhere. A great entrepreneur can see them, understand them and act on them. ~ Peter Bordes
The advice I would give my 20-year-old self would be simple: workout every single day and eat healthy foods. Entrepreneurship can be a very rewarding, long-term adventure; you want to make sure you’re in a position to enjoy every single day.