I am thrilled to be celebrating 20 years in business this year! When I first started my company, I had no idea the journey I would take. But in the blink of an eye, 20 years have passed, and I’m blessed to reflect back on all the experiences, both good and bad, successes, failures, and countless lessons.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a CEO, a manager of people, or just starting your professional career, hopefully something on this list will bring to light a new perspective or a reminder of what you already know. Some of my lessons are business-related, while others are life-related.
I’ve been blessed with a successful business, but it wasn’t smooth sailing all the time. I’ve had my share of rough waters – skinned my knees, been punched in the gut and kicked in the teeth. (All metaphors, of course!) But as I look back on the last 20 years, one of the biggest lessons I learned was to learn the lesson. Many situations or experiences were learning opportunities. Sometimes I learned quickly. Other times, not so much.
Not every lesson is the result of a bad experience or decision. Sometimes, life throws you unique situations or circumstances that are learning opportunities. The key to success is to take what you learn and move forward.
If you know me, you may have heard me share some of these lessons. And if you know me well, you may know the back story to some of them. And if you don’t know me at all, I hope you can take away some food for thought. Here they are, in no particular order.
- Sometimes when you’re stuck in the same spot, you need to take a step back, regroup, and move forward in a different direction.
- You can’t do everything yourself.
- Hire slow, fire fast.
- A Non-Compete/Confidentiality Agreement is your friend. Have one for every person that works in (or with) your organization.
- Always have a Plan B.
- Your health (physical and mental) is your most valuable asset. Treat it as such.
- No response IS a response.
- Sometimes snakes are disguised as friends.
- Trust your gut instinct. Always.
- There are two types of problems – those you can control and fix, and those you can’t. Learn the difference.
- A calculated risk is rarely a bad thing.
- Failure is part of the learning curve. Take the lesson and move on.
- Know when to say NO. You don’t owe anyone else a reason, explanation, or any justification. You can just say NO.
- Integrity trumps profitability.
- If you’re the leader, make sure you’re steering the ship and not rowing the boat.
- Ask for help. You most likely always have a network of people who will be happy to help you…if you just ask.
- Get it in writing.
- Have a good accountant, a great attorney, and phenomenal mentors.
- Don’t let an employee hold you hostage. Even if it makes your life harder, fire the non-performers.
- Follow your passion! I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I can’t wait to get to the office every single day!
As we all proceed through our professional careers, whether you’re a seasoned executive, a young up-and-comer, or somewhere in between, valuable lessons are all around. But sometimes they’re difficult to see, and they require time to “simmer” while you realize what you are supposed to learn. Remember to look around and listen to your colleagues, friends, family, mentors, business partners and customers – you can always find valuable lessons in the life experiences of others.