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10 Hard Won Insights Revealed for Free by Entrepreneurs


by Kenneth Rudich

By the very nature of the environment they’re immersed in, successful entrepreneurs frequently learn mission-critical lessons.  They have to — their livelihoods depend on it.

When the lessons are hard won – as in, it exacted a price or took some kind of a toll – then the value of an entrepreneur’s willingness to share among those who have yet to go through it is priceless.

But ask a hundred successful entrepreneurs for such advice and you’re apt to get as many different answers. 

At least, that’s what happened when asked, “What do you wish you knew before you started a business?”  One hundred responses rolled in, and elected to cram them all into a single blog post. 

Only thing is, sometimes less is more, and this is one circumstance that almost certainly fits that characterization.

Let’s be realistic: beginning entrepreneurs need to focus on the precious few matters that will determine whether they make it or break it in this early stage of endeavor. 

Simply handing them a laundry list of things to worry about is way overwhelming and none-too-productive.  Why dilute their attention with concerns that can be dealt with later, after they’ve established a foothold?  Wouldn’t it serve them better to offer just a few small tidbits of advice that can make a pivotal difference as they get started?

If you want to see all 100 hundred answers, you can go to the original article.

Meanwhile, we’ve boiled the list of 100 down to what we regard as the top ten based on their substance, insight and relevance for getting a newly minted entrepreneur out of the gate and onto the track.  Here they are in no particular order:

  1. I wish I would have known how unpredictable things can be at ALL times. I read a lot before starting my business and realized unexpected things happen, but never did I realize the frequency in which they do.  You really need to learn how to adapt every dayto things you may not have foreseen waking up that morning. – Scott Fineout
  2. I wish I knew about the value of keeping it simple.  Starting out young with plenty of energy and great ideas led me down many paths of distraction.  Instead, by focusing first on what sells, why and at what price and then staying true to that over time, I would have saved a lot of headaches, time and supported profitability a lot sooner.  The saying KISS is popular for a reason and particularly applicable when you’re an entrepreneur. -Deborah Osgood
  3. Financially, I learned that you should get incorporated and need to have a great accountant that specializes in small business taxes.  I also discovered that success is easier to achieve if you learn from people that know more than you instead of going it alone. – Eddy Salomon
  4. I really wished I developed more social skills early on to spend more time developing relationships.  Networking has been key to bringing in more business and if I had practice this social ability more, then business may have come sooner rather than later. – Ali Allage
  5. The biggest thing I’ve learned and wish I would have known before I had started our company is the difference between sales and marketing. Everyone says sales and marketing together like they’re the same thing.  They’re not. – Scott D. Mashuda
  6. Admittedly, we went into GiveForward knowing we’d have to be flexible and patient.  All of the good books tell you this, but no one really tells you how emotionally draining that wait can be. – Desiree Vargas
  7. Hands down without a doubt no questions asked – effective marketing.  It truly does not matter how great your product or service is; unless someone knows about it, you are still behind the start line. – Leanne Hoagland-Smith
  8. I wish I knew exactly how important it is to prioritize tasks and goals.   One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the last few months is to prioritize what is important, in order of its proportionate worth.  It is easy to do the little things that make you feel like you are accomplishing something, but it is the big important things that need your full attention – even if it is uncomfortable. – Evan Urbania
  9. I wish I had known that you don’t need to be right with your first iteration of your business plan.  Young businesses naturally deviate from their roadmap as the founders ideas about what will work get tested by reality.  Smart entrepreneurs listen to the feedback they get and adapt. – Matt Lally
  10. I wished I had learned about the need for business systems and process documentationand why they are important.  I have found they are a life saver to developing a work environment that thrives since everyone in the company knows what they are supposed to be doing and can easily reference the steps. – Adam Sayler


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