An Entrepreneur’s Advice to His Younger SelfWilliam Gadea 03.07.2017
You often see the question posed: “what advice would you give to the younger version of yourself?” What follows, is usually some sage life advice from someone who has made the mistakes: being absent from their kids’ lives, or failing to take the risks they wanted to take. But you don’t often hear that question posed to entrepreneurs, in regard to their business life. Here’s my attempt to speak to the younger version of myself:
You’ve got the right idea. You love what you do, and you want to serve others with what you do: clients, employees, and the viewers of your videos too. That’s great!
And your idea of the best way to do it is usually pretty sound. You try to understand people’s business needs and solve them with a quality solution. You seek the best talent. You try to run an efficient shop. You measure the returns on your business investments, and try to optimize those returns. You’ll get better at all these things as you go along, but you’ve got the right approach.
There are two values that you are underrating. Let’s call them the two F’s: focus and flexibility.
There is a value to being able to concentrate on what you and the shop does best. You could save some money by doing the books yourself, rather than have a book-keeping firm do it, but then you will have to worry about learning accounting, or training somebody else to do accounting, or making sure they do it right. What’s more, when you’re looking to hire someone new, you might have to include bookkeeping skills as a hiring pre-condition– when really you should be looking for the skills that they will mostly need in their job. Simply put, it is worth paying a little bit more to make sure a task is a) done right, and b) won’t tax your bandwidth.
But focus isn’t just about outsourcing work. It’s about really giving yourself the space to concentrate on your most important tasks (both physically, and in terms of time) and providing that same opportunity to members of your team. Everywhere at once is not a good place to be.
The other value you underrate is flexibility. And the main reason you underrate it is because you overrate your ability to foresee the future. Believe me, business will be, at different times, both much better and much worse than you expect it will be. You will not foresee how quickly technology changes, tastes change, and your organization transforms. Be wary of yearly- and multi-yearly commitments. That might mean a co-working situation rather than a long-term lease, a freelancer rather than a permanent employee, a month-by-month SaaS contract rather than a yearly or one-time investment. Stay nimble and don’t get bogged down.
I know you’re grateful for the opportunity to lead a team and forge a company. Don’t lose that feeling. This is the most important project of your life.
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