his year marks 10 years of being an entrepreneur for me. Its a big milestone. Ive spent a lot of time introspecting and asking myself “what would i have done differently if i could go back”
First id like to say that i don’t regret one minute of the past 10 years.That not to say it was all a bowl of cherries. But even though i could have done a lot of things better or more efficiently had i known what i know today, i don’t regret one moment. Not one bit. Its been an exhilarating journey and i cherish every moment of it – the pitfalls, screw ups and the pain points as much if not more than the happy moments. Those are the moments that define you, that toughen you up. And without those you have nothing to look back to and laugh !
But if i could go back, whilst keeping the journey intact i would potentially change my outlook on certain things. I would trust myself more , my inner instinct and listen less to others quoting text book stuff thats all good in theory but, as they say, in theory practice and theory are the same, but in practice they are not.
From advisors to more experienced staff you bring on board to help you, to investors. They have some great experience and knowledge and yes thats invaluable However there are some areas where as a founder you have the deepest insight – like the product, your users and the market. Its your vision not theirs. When it comes to those matters, trust your gut. Listen, take it all in, go away and mash it all up, think about it deeply without distraction, and then go and do what your gut tells you. And don’t look back.
Someone once told me: business is 90% text book stuff. But the other 10% is what makes all the difference. It took me a while to realize how profound this statement is.
People will often tell you things like: yes you MUST interview everyone in the company – even Goggle does it! Or, you need an open plan – ideally round – office. Facebook has a round office and Zuck sits right in the middle of it. Who are you to do otherwise ? Or you need a new brand name, the biggest exits in the last 3 years all had 4-letter names starting with a W or a V, so we must do the same! Or, we need a co-founder, statistically we have 50% chance of higher success according to some bozo who had nothing better to do but analyze the stats.
This is all nonsense. You can’t retrofit what’s worked for one business to what will fork for another. Sure some lessons are valuable and transferable and you can learn from them. But having a round office because Facebook does is as idiotic as saying if i tattoo my hands and shave my head i’ll play football like David Beckham. Its lunacy. Or if i just eat apples and don’t shower for weeks i’ll become Steve Jobs. How some seemingly intelligent people can come up with this crap always beats me.
There are no rules when it comes to these nuances. Do what works for you. I had an open plan office in the past (because startups “have to”) and i found my concentration was dwindling and i couldn’t get anything done. Now i have my own office, i close the door and i focus on the things that matter. The result is better. Screw those who say you should be sat out there with the team. The result is what matters
More and more entrepreneurs i meet ask me these silly questions, like some bozo XYZ told them that Marissa Meyer spends X time per in group chats with her team, or she makes her cell phone public so therefore so should I. If only you stopped looking round your shoulders at what others do ,look inside yourself and figure out what optimized your performance and that of your team and your customers. And go do it. Thats all that matters.
The rest is just waffle for people who don’t know what they are talking about to sound like they do.