I spend most of my days on the computer, and when I’m not busy writing, I’m working on various entrepreneurial endeavors or interviewing and meeting with other business owners and entrepreneurs around my community and around the world for my podcast. I’ve realized in my time since leaving corporate America that solo entrepreneurs and small business owners often have a different perspective of the world than typical workers with a 9-5 day job. I scoured the web for great business owner insights that regular people don’t run into on a regular basis. Here are some favorite gems of wisdom that can help you succeed in your business, or your career.
Business lessons from entreprenuers
“That grades in school have only a minor correlation to success in entrepreneurship. Even in many cases, intelligence has only a minor correlation as well.” -Brian Sloan via Quora
I am a strong believer in education, and credit much of my online success to my two finances degrees, including an MBA. That said, I was not a 4.0 student. I was more in the 3.0-3.5 range. While that didn’t help me land a job at Goldman, in the world of entrepreneurship I do just fine. Thanks to a combination of the right skills and a solid work ethic, I have passed many of my peers in terms of income and business success. I even do better than many people smarter than me, as I focus on the right skills rather than just getting an A.
I recently read the story of Richard Rosner, arguably one of the most intelligent people in the world but someone who has had limited career success. Despite his record-setting IQ, his career didn’t lead to any groundbreaking business or discoveries. He has worked as a stripper, roller rink waiter, and other menial jobs, plus a few media appearances. Many people without the same mental abilities built huge business empires through hard work and determination.
“Entrepreneurs know how messy running a business is – but you don’t hear about it because most of us are pretending it’s all under control.” -Asim Qureshi via Quora
Business blunders make the news when they impact a wide number of people, as is evidenced by recent airline PR problems and customer data hacks. But most of the time, business problems stay private inside the business. In a startup, everyone works on all parts of the business. Few financial, digital, human resources, or other parts of the business are handled perfectly. Many businesses operate with varying degrees of organized chaos on a daily basis.
The sign of a strong CEO is someone who can navigate the muddy waters of business and put on a confident face even in the midst of adversity. Things rarely go exactly as planned, and business leaders must always be ready to react and pivot when things go awry.
“When you’re starting a company, you’re wearing many hats. An [sic] entrepreneur learns what needs to be done fast.” -Nathan Resnick via Quora
In my business, which is a small, solo-run enterprise, I am the CEO, accountant, salesman, marketer, inside legal counsel, and more. When I run into an issue, I can’t delegate it to another employee, I just have to figure it out. But even in startups with growing teams, founders and everyone else should be ready to learn new skills on the fly. Resnick shared that he learned everything from accounting to patents while starting a small business in college, and that is not an entirely unique story.
Going in with co-founders can help offset your weaknesses, but at the end of the day, business has to get done and move forward. That often means figuring things out as you go. What’s really cool, however, is that anyone can learn as they go, not just business owners.
“Overnight successes take 10 years.” -Eric Griffin via Quora
This is one I can certainly relate to! I gained a small bit of notice when my business broke the $10,000 per month mark consistently, but it took eight years of hard work to get there. The same is true of founders in a range of successful businesses. Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and leaders across many companies and industries started working in garages, dorm rooms, and other less than glamorous locations for years before their business hit the big time.
While the media loves to get rich quick stories, in reality, most business success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of blood, sweat, and tears to reach huge levels of success.
“Entrepreneurship isn’t a job — it’s a lifestyle.” -Shirsha Dutta via Quora
At the end of a long workday, those who work for an employer can hang up their coat (or laptop) and head home for the day. While employers expect more and more and work hours often bleed into home life and vacations, employees can usually leave work at the office. For entrepreneurs, all hours are business hours. It never stops. One day this week I started at 6:30 am and last night I worked until 8:00 pm. I took care of work communications on a recent vacation to Victoria, Canada, and I’m never away from my phone for fear of missing an important client email or call.
While it may invade my work-life balance, I wouldn’t give it up. I’m always working in many ways, as my mind rarely wanders far from my business and side hustle adventures. Most women entrepreneurs would share a similar lifestyle experience, where you never completely shut down from the job.
Entrepreneurs are a unique breed
Business lessons come in many shapes and forms. Entrepreneurs often learn lessons on the job, figuring things out as they go. Take these lessons to heart and they can help you in your business, or even in a day job. If you embody the entrepreneurial spirit, these business lessons likely resonate with you. If you struggle in your business, keep in mind that many have before you as well, and you are not alone. But if you can persevere, you and your business have good things ahead.