30 Lessons from 30 Days at a Start-Up

A little over 30 days ago, I started my new job as Head of Product at an NYC-based start-up. It’s been a busy, fast-paced month between moving to New York City, selling a home in South Carolina, finding an apartment, and starting a new job; but there have been valuable experiences and lessons learned along the way.

There is so much I could write about and expand upon, but I wanted to share 30 lessons from my first 30 days. Some of these lessons were previously learned and are now being reinforced, while some are new lessons learned as I navigate the newness of the e-commerce business. These lessons are far from complete or detailed, but I think you’ll be able to fill in the gaps wherever needed…

30 Lessons from My First 30 Days

  1. If you’re the Founder of the company, nobody will care more about your business than you do and nobody will shoulder more weight than you do.
  2. The bottom line matters a lot, and pretty much everything you do affects it so pay close attention.
  3. Agility is both a critical skill and characteristic needed — you have to be able to be able to adjust to your surroundings.
  4. Developing long-term relationships and partnerships is critical to your success.
  5. Maintaining those relationships and partnerships is extra work, but it’s well worth the effort.
  6. Your customer(s) dictate whether or not you have a viable product and even a viable business.
  7. Establishing healthy profit margins early will lead to long-term vitality and sustainability.
  8. You’re ALWAYS interviewing when it comes to winning over business, partnerships, and customers.
  9. There is no such thing as “over-communicating.” Allowing things to be, or go, assumed is the same as allowing for gross mistakes and errors to happen.
  10. You have to be comfortable saying, “No,” and “Not right now.”
  11. If you work hard, you can actually take time off and enjoy it.
  12. When you pay your bills on time, your customers, vendors, and suppliers will all be much happier.
  13. Almost any problem can be solved with strong leadership and clear communication. As much as possible, work to have and provide both.
  14. If you don’t do your job well (or at all), the rest of your team ends up paying the price.
  15. You have to have some sort of mental outlet to disconnect and relax.
  16. When you think you’re out of time or out of solutions, there are probably 2–3 more solutions you’ve not thought of and more time to execute.
  17. Doing your best to answer your customer’s questions before they ask them will go a long way in building brand loyalty.
  18. Sharing your story of why you do what you do will connect your customers emotionally to your brand and product.
  19. Creating self-imposed deadlines is one of the surest ways to stay on track and get ahead.
  20. Your personality is not an excuse to be lacking in organization. Organization is a skill, which means it can be learned and developed.
  21. Keep your word — people actually want to believe what you say.
  22. Nobody will complain that you’re the first person in the office.
  23. Have a higher standard for yourself than others do for you and you will exceed their expectations every time.
  24. Just cause you did it once, doesn’t mean you should do it again.
  25. If your customers feel like they’ve been served, they’ll have no problem paying what you charge.
  26. Your team and staff are committing to a lot by showing up to work every day, so letting them know you care about them and appreciate what they do makes a meaningful impact.
  27. Most people really do want to feel like they’re making a difference with the products they buy and the goods they consume.
  28. Just cause you’re doing business and trying to make a profit doesn’t mean you can’t be kind.
  29. The hustle is real — you can’t expect other people to cover your slack if you’ve not busted your a** to help yourself and the team first.
  30. My mind and body are hardwired to be entrepreneurial, explorative, innovative, and creative.