Hard-learned Insights (Not Confessions) from a Serial Entrepreneur

That Which Gets Measured, Gets Done!

Growing a small business is like running a lab. There are certain inputs that will guarantee success and those that will thwart it. Continuous monitoring and measuring the effectiveness of your initiatives is also a must. We call this having processes and controls in place. This is one reason that start-ups working with venture capital firms and incubators have a distinct advantage over family-controlled operations.

Venture capitalist are able to tilt the odds of success in your favour by providing their expertise from years of accumulated “lessons-learned” in working with other start-ups. Additionally, by sharing overhead and back-office resources, much of the cost and time devoted to mundane work and fixed expenses are reduced. Either through purchasing power of the entire portfolio or simply amortized over each investment. This gives founders the chance to focus on building your product and business.

One of the most important things we’ve learned about running a business is the ability to “pivot”. This is switching gears and changing strategies QUICKLY when the market (your customers, business partners, job candidates, or even Google Analytics) is telling you that your current course of action is not working!

Running a small-business is the truest form of a meritocracy. However, it is not the ruthless cut-throat endeavor of Darwinism. It’s more of a strategic game of chess. Big companies like GM and IBM call this “War-gaming”. Many start-ups call it a “What-if” analysis. Regardless of the term “du jour”, starting and running a business should be managed as a scientific process. It is something that can be measured and replicated. All outcomes – positive, negative, and neutral – and the appropriate response and contingency should be planned for whenever possible.

Companies that are ethical, charge a premium above their cost of doing business and deliver superior quality (customer service and product) are more likely to prosper over the long run. Special consideration should be given to superior quality. To illustrate, besides providing products and services that are “built to last”, it may be further broken down into an ability to offer a high degree of product or service customization. In fact, customization is what keeps specialized, craft oriented companies in business despite an onslaught of low cost, mass market suppliers.

Below are some quotes and lessons-learned from the founder of Code Sport Labs:

A mixture of mental tenacity and euphoric optimism is required to be a successful business owner. The ability to be receptive to feedback and criticism, quickly learn from mistakes, and recover from set-backs is the secret sauce!
For the success of your business it is critical that you hire individuals that complement your skills and personality.
There is no where to hide. In a small business, employees who don’t pull their weight stick out like weeds within the first 4 hours on the job! Not to sound callous, but no effort on your part will change and under-performing employee. The best remedy is to let them go as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the tougher it will be to do the inevitable along with wasted mental energy!
If you’re a small business, every employee is in the Marketing department
If you’re a small business owner, your business is a magnification of your personality. Both good and bad
A mixture of mental tenacity and euphoric optimism is required to be a successful business owner. The ability to quickly learn from mistakes and recover from set-backs is the secret sauce!
Never lie to your customers, employees, or yourself