A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. — Lao Tzu

Top 30 Life Lessons From My Entrepreneurship Journey!

Abhishek Shah
Dec 1, 2020 · 11 min read

The Internet is filled with different quotes and phrases that define an “entrepreneur”, but there are really few who truly understand the meaning of it. Ask the general crowd who is an entrepreneur and without losing a beat you will get the answer Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, or even probably Narayan Murthy.

But for me, being an entrepreneur does not resonate with building up the next Google or Apple. I define it as anything and everything in life that deals with overcoming challenges in different inventive ways. Someone who is a writer, a painter, or conducts workshops is an entrepreneur. The kid next door who is trying to make crafty things from waste is an entrepreneur. If you ask why then it is because every one of them and many others combat their challenges to succeed.

I have learned a lot from being an entrepreneur myself. Several attempts that have failed and the select few which have succeeded, have given me several insights into the job. So here I have a compilation of some lessons which I believe can help some of you out there to get things started or move them ahead. This is my “gyaan (knowledge)” to you, to help you deal with being an entrepreneur which I have learned the hard way over the years.

Forget about Fun: No matter what others might say, believe me, being an entrepreneur is not only tough but will also take away the fun factor from your life. There will be times when you will be filled with extreme hate over the decisions you make, and so I advise you to keep a distance from sharp and falling objects, for your own safety.

Also Read: Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup

If you are bad at sales then don’t start a business: Building a product has become as easy as pouring yourself some milk to drink because you can outsource almost everything!

The true challenge is to find a suitable market and make sales happen. If you are not sure about sales, then take some effort to learn about it and then start with your venture. Because what kind of an entrepreneur would you be if you cannot sell?

Also Read: New Sales. Simplified.: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development

Get customers before you have a product: In this world, where the competition is so violent, you must build the demand first. If you have an idea, see how many people are falling for that idea. Without customers, it is going to be very tough to convince venture capitalists to invest in your business.

Also Read: Never Lose a Customer Again: Turn Any Sale into Lifelong Loyalty in 100 Days

A fraction of people will buy your product: You conducted a survey and 1000 people said they would buy your product then, in reality, but the number as 30 on paper as only those many will truly buy your product. Accept the fact and take corrective actions to increase this number.

Also Read: Customer Centricity: Focus on the Right Customers for Strategic Advantage (Wharton Executive Essentials)

Failure is Okay: Everyone fails, or you can say most of us fail, so don’t treat yourself any different. Start over by learning from your mistakes, and hopefully before your financial resources dry out.

Also Read: Gift of Failure

Don’t hire: Of course, you will need people to work for your business but have you really thought if you need all of them?

Also Read: Hire Smart from the Start: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Finding, Catching, and Keeping the Best Talent for Your Company

Earn profits: Before you try to raise money, become profitable. It sounds difficult and it is because money is costly.

Also Read: Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine

Sell only products, even if you call it service: Even if you are offering a service, claim that you are selling a product because products are valued higher in comparison to services.

Also Read: Service as a product: A Complete Guide

Validate your idea first: Make sure your idea is worth building a business out of it. Don’t just talk to your friends, make a business plan and start with your business. Do some quality research on your idea. If it is tough to execute, you probably won’t raise money. If it is too easy then it is probably better to sell it.

Also Read: The Mom Test: How to talk to customers & learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you

Can’t get co-founders, your idea probably sucks: If you cannot find people who will work with you on the idea, then probably your idea sucks or even worse you suck at selling your idea to others.

Also Read: Business Partnership Essentials: A Step-by-Step Action Plan for Succeeding in Business With a Partner

Raising funds: Before you go about seeking funds, make sure you have proof-of-concept, that is, the people are willing and are buying your product. Sell a few hundred before you approach angel investors or venture capitalists.

Also Read: Masters of Corporate Venture Capital: Collective Wisdom from 50 VCs Best Practices for Corporate Venturing How to Access Startup Innovation & How to Get Funded

Securing funds not equal to proof-of-concept: If you received money despite the fact that you do not have proof-of-concept, then it is dumb money. I call it dumb because once you get that, most will turn lazy and never validate the idea. Don’t become lazy and inactive just because you were lucky enough to get funding early in the stage.

Also Read: How to Be a Capitalist Without Any Capital: The Four Rules You Must Break To Get Rich

Network: Communicate with your employees, customers, suppliers, vendors, and investors on a regular Each one is connected to you in their own ways and so reaching out to them helps to build the trust.

Also Read: Knock Out Networking for Financial Advisors and Other Sales Producers: More Prospects, More Referrals, More Business

Competition: Well, you would like if your product did not have competition in the market, but the truth is that competition is good. It keeps you on the progress path and makes you strive towards the best continuously.

Also Read: Startup — Breakthrough Startups: Marketing Plan: Crush The Competition With Your Innovative Startup

Make customers happy: Even if it means selling them your competitor’s product. It is important to think about your customers first and do everything for them. The more you interact with them, more likely are they to buy your product. Have meals with them, know them, and make them happy because only a happy customer will stay with you longer.

Also Read: Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers!: Six Powerful Steps to Grow Your Business with Exceptional Customer Experience

Stay healthy: If you believe, that to be a successful entrepreneur you need to sacrifice your sleep then that’s some serious crap. Working 20 hours a day will not only drain you out but will also make things worse. If you remain healthy, you will deliver a healthy product. Have a sound sleep of at least 6–8 hours, which a normal human body needs. Exercise regularly, which does not mean you need to hit the gym and do push-ups daily. Walking around and eating healthy food is all you need.

Also Read: Shine: An Entrepreneur’s Journey for Building a Highly Successful Business and a Healthy Life

Get your Marketing Right: Don’t just mention what amount you will be spending on your marketing in your business plan but also have a proper plan as to what mediums and channels you will use to acquire your customer. Because without customers, your business will just be a building.

Also Read: Startup Evolution Curve From Idea to Profitable and Scalable Business: Startup Marketing Manual

Customers buy when they want to buy: That’s harsh reality. You and your team might be working for weeks and months towards your product’s release only to find out that no one wants to buy it even when they told us they liked the product. Why? Because people buy when they want to buy and not when we want to sell.

Also Read: How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market

Be Emotionally Stable: Don’t have personal problems, if you have them, solve them quickly because the more you juggle with your personal and professional life issues, things will start to slip off your hands.

Also Read: Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Have happy employees: Have you seen the movie Intern starring Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro, where her company has an in-house masseuse for the employees? Well, that is the stuff I am talking about. Buy your employees gifts, tickets, take them out and do everything that would make them say, “I love my job”.

Also Read: Be Our Guest (Revised and Updated Edition): Perfecting the Art of Customer Service (A Disney Institute Book)

Keep employees on a leash: Yeah, you made them happy but make sure they are going bonkers within your boundary walls. You need to say “no” to them sometimes, so make sure they do their tricks within the boundaries.

Also Read: Best. Team. Ever.

Don’t be a greedy monster: Yes, I know you want to make money but don’t get too greedy when pricing your product. If your product is reasonable, customers will buy. That does not mean it eats into your costs. You can increase the price on upgrades and future products because once you become the next Apple, people will not settle down for oppo.

Also Read: In Pursuit of Wealth: The Moral Case for Finance

Brand it: Building your brand is a must and so it doesn’t matter if your initial pricing is cheap. Be authentic and honest and the word will spread like fire.

Also Read: Badass Your Brand: The Impatient Entrepreneur’s Guide to Turning Expertise into Profit

Reduce risks: Not just for you and your business but for everyone you interact with because everyone fears losing. And if you can help with getting rid of the fear then you are reducing risks for them.

Also Read: Risk Game: Self Portrait of an Entrepreneur

Develop some good content: People won’t buy your product unless they know about it, and to get the word out you need some good content for the readers. Blogs play a big role in acquiring customers.

Also Read: Apple to Apples: Content Is King, But It Isn’t Everything

All that matters is trust: It is not about your product features or what they like, but the bottom line always is trust. Do they trust you enough that they will buy your product or invest in it? That’s the question you must answer.

Also Read: Trust: America’s Best Chance

If an employee is unhappy: Take him/her aside or out of the building. Talk to them and listen to their problems. If they cry, then there is something wrong with your company so listen to them and fix it.

Also Read: Career Rehab: Rebuild Your Personal Brand and Rethink the Way You Work

Read: Lots have been changing in the world and almost everything affects the business. Read daily to keep up with what’s going on and how you need to adapt to it.

Also Read: Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too

Throw Parties with your own money: It might seem over the top, but that’s what companies do so invite your customers, investors and employees for the party which is not from the company money but your own.

Don’t go to other Parties: Work while others are Though once in a while is okay, avoid parties and meetups with other entrepreneurs unless it is going to bring you any business.

Although these are the rules that I have learnt from my experience, that does not mean these are universal rules. Your experience might be very different to mine and even some of the rules might change for me in the near future. Being an entrepreneur is not easy and sometimes can be very messy. So simple advice is to follow your heart and earn the riches that you have dreamt of without anyone telling you what to do.

As always, let me know your thoughts on the topic. I’d love to hear your ideas and views in the comments below.

Also, if you would like to read more captivating stuff on the topics of entrepreneurship, marketing, social media, leadership, technology, innovation and venture capital via my regular posts then please click ‘Follow’ and feel free to connect via SlideShare, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

P.S. here are my other Articles on Linkedin & Articles on Medium.

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Abhishek Shah

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Nomad | Early Stage Investor | Wannabe Anthropologist | Technology Evangelist | Curious, Inquisitive & Experimental Entrepreneur

The Helm

Business leadership advice, from real business leaders. The Helm is a carefully curated collection of insightful content from the business frontlines.