Lisa and I absolutely love to mentor. We have had many phone calls and meetings with young, and not so young, aspiring entrepreneurs thinking about starting a company and how to go about it. We’ve also met with many of our peers in the cosmetics industry and have asked for as much help as we’ve given. We look forward to our in-person meetings again soon!
This time last year, I was on my way to my alma mater, University of Iowa, where I was invited to share my experience as an entrepreneur with a group of students in their entrepreneurship program. About half of the students had already started their companies while attending school. I wrote some things down that Lisa and I have learned in our 20 tenure that I shared with the class.
If you’re thinking about starting a company, hopefully some of the things we’ve learned will help you!
- First and foremost, go with your gut! There’s a reason you started your company. Keep reminding yourself why and stay true to yourself and your company’s mantra. There are so many distractions out there and so much advice, albeit with good intention, that can make decisions confusing. What does your gut tell you to do?
- Learn to walk away sometimes. Forcing a square peg into a round hole has never been successful for us. If it’s meant to be, it will come back around at the right time.
- Relationships give you a leg up on your competitors. Get out there and physically meet people and form friendships. We can get lazy and rely on email way too much. Make the effort for as many in- person meetings as you can.
- Don’t let a lawyer overcomplicate a contract. Make it legal, but lawyers can spend too much time overthinking all the worst- case scenarios and can drag out contract negotiations to the point that it starts to damage the relationship. We have found that three revisions seems to be a good amount, if needed.
- Never rest on your laurels. There’s always someone out there willing to jump in when you’re not looking. Keep learning and growing. The world is changing by the nano-second.
- Don’t forget about your back end support. Constantly strengthen those areas of your business. You can have a fantastic product, idea or service but if you fail in any of your support areas such as distribution, finance, marketing or customer service, your business will not be sustainable. Speaking of finance, do it yourself or keep that one close.
- On a personal note, take breaks and step back once in a while. It helps you gain perspective. Have many other interests and hobbies other than your business. Being an entrepreneur is very time consuming, but you’ll bring much more to the table if you are well rounded.