Lessons Learned in my 12th Year of Entrepreneurship
I’ve been a full-time entrepreneur for 12 years.
That’s well over a decade, and to be honest, typing that out (and knowing it's true) feels surreal. At the same time, it feels like it’s been far longer than that! If you yourself are an entrepreneur…you probably know exactly what I mean.
Being an entrepreneur has been one of my life’s greatest joys, and the truth is…I know I’m just getting started. You know, I’m one of those “idea guys” who constantly thinks of new ways to use the gifts God has given me to add value to the world and/or make others’ lives easier. I’m not tooting my own horn here by any means…I’m just excited by the fact that there is so much opportunity out there – for all of us!
There’s an episode of the Craig Groschel leadership podcast (this is a solid listen, by the way. Add it to your docket this week!) where he interviews Rener Gracie. This guy is basically the 2023 king of jiu-jitsu…and his family has been sharing this sport with the world for a long time. Anyway, in the podcast, Craig comments on the contagious energy Rener has when he talks about jiu-jitsu. Rener Gracie’s response resonated with me – he said something along the lines of “if we’re doing what we’re meant to do, this type of energy just happens.” Those weren’t his exact words, of course, but it's what I took away from his comment – and I couldn’t agree more.
This “energy” is what I feel when it comes to entrepreneurship. I’m fired up because I firmly believe that we ALL have great ideas, and they’re all worth exploring.
Over the past twelve years, I’ve hit ups and downs. Highs and lows. I’ve had MAJOR wins and serious setbacks. I’ve explored ideas that were solid, and ideas that were a total bust. I’ve found success and I’ve found failure.
I’ve learned a lot throughout the years, and I know I’m still learning.
One of the greatest avenues through which I have gained valuable experience and learned worthy lessons is through other people’s stories. Hearing where they’ve struggled, overcome, and what teachable moments could help my story has been pivotal in my journey of entrepreneurship.
So that’s a bit of what I want to humbly share with you here – a bit of what I’ve learned over the past 12 years, and why those lessons matter. I believe as human beings, the greatest gift we can give ourselves is the willingness to be a lifelong learner. Do you agree?
I hope you’ll join me in leaning into life with an open heart, a listening ear, and the humility to accept that there is always room to grow.
The Top 3 Things I’ve Learned in 12 Years of Entrepreneurship:
LEARN FROM OTHERS. I’ve basically already shared about this lesson leading up to these 3 points, but truth be told, I can’t say it enough. In today’s day and age, we have so much access to incredibly valuable resources like podcasts and books from successful entrepreneurs. Dig into those! Seriously, put a time on your calendar every day to learn from someone else. While the “access” we have nowadays is great (and should be fully taken advantage of), there’s one thing a lot of us miss: real-life interaction when it comes to learning from others. I’m talking about calling up someone who’s gone before you (yes, on the actual telephone), or reaching out to someone you admire and asking to go to coffee. Do you have a mentor? Are you boldly and humbly seeking out opportunities to learn from others? If not, no worries – you can start right now.
STAY NIMBLE. Oh man. As entrepreneurs, we reeeeeally tend to want things to go our way, like, mostly all the time. Am I right? I’ve had to learn, time and time again, that the key to success is staying nimble. What do I mean by that? I mean that what worked when we first started our business(es) might not work after years 1, 5 or 10. The systems you put in place to get your idea off the ground might not be the same systems that take it to the next level. The skeleton team of rockstars you had during one season might not be the same people you need in the “boat” during the next. The office space, marketing strategy, schedule (you get the point by now)...it will probably ALL look different throughout the years, and it's crucial to stay nimble and allow things to ebb and flow. I know this is easier said than done, but when in doubt, resort to asking questions, staying curious, and being willing to try doing this in a different way when given the opportunity.
BE OPEN TO THE FUTURE. If you’re anything like me, you stay in a constant state of equal parts “head down, in the weeds” and “okay cool, so what’s next!?”. Actually, I’d say I lean a little more towards the “what’s next” mentality because again, I’m an idea guy! One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in entrepreneurship is to be open to the future, and it follows perfectly to the last lesson because staying nimble is simply a requirement if you want to be able to capitalize on future opportunities. In other words, the future might not look like you imagined it would. I’ve learned, firsthand, that the people we meet and things we hear almost all have a purpose – and if we live life and do business with a posture of openness, there’s no telling what could happen. Maybe it's a connection that can help your business skyrocket. Maybe its a new idea that you could find a lot of purpose in. The opportunities are endless…so while being an entrepreneur does demand a lot of “head down” work, let’s keep our eyes up as much as possible and a loose grip on what could lie ahead. At the end of the day, there’s a beautiful balance between commitment to where we are and openness to the future. I’m not sure about you, but that’s right where I want to be!
In closing, I want to reiterate that while these are all lessons I have certainly learned over the last 12 years, they’re also things I’m still learning. I’m a big fan of the show Friday Night Lights, where their motto is “Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose”. I’m taking this to heart as I embark on the next decade + of entrepreneurship (more on this topic soon). I truly believe the best is yet to come (and the same goes for you)!
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