If I Had Known Then...

4 Minute Read

As an entrepreneur, you are used to flying by the seat of your pants, learning from your mistakes as you go along. But what if someone waved a magic wand and you were given the chance to learn in advance—avoiding all those hard life-lessons?

While we don’t have that power, we do have something nearly as miraculous: a deep well of knowledge from EntreLeadership Master Series alumni, who have made their own share of mistakes. We recently asked them this question: If you had to do it all over again, what would you change? Here’s their advice to you.

Keith Glines, principal, Consulting Strategies, Inc.
Fairhope, Alabama
I would be more diligent in the start-up phase and create better infrastructure. Passion can only take you so far, and then you have to be prepared to execute.

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Carey Foster, president, North Star Paving and Construction
Soldotna, Alaska
I wouldn't go into debt. It's bondage. It takes away all your freedom to make choices, and it also makes you have to work longer and harder with the stress of always having the debt hanging over your head.

Sean Devereaux, co-founder, Zero VFX and ZYNC
Boston, Massachusetts
I would lead with much less fear. My first year as a business owner was one of the hardest of my life, and I made it more difficult by acting (or not acting) out of fear. I’m very happy to have quickly gotten over it.

Alan Finch, president, Mayflower Metals
Prosser, Washington
Stay out of debt.

Zef Banda, president and CEO, Banda Group International
Chandler, Arizona
So many of us go into business because we're good at something, and we’re not actually business people. That was me. So I would get as much education and information as possible on how to run a business. And I definitely would have attended EntreLeadership Master Series in the earlier stages of developing my company.

Mike Langston, president, Pope’s Utility Building
Tampa, Florida
Because I have always had a the-buck-stops-here attitude in business, I allowed the business and my word to be one in the same. Therefore, I had a high level of contact with my customers, assuring them I was personally available for any of their needs or concerns. On the surface, it sounds like a great quality, and I believe that attitude was instrumental in growing the business to the place it is now. But that model has a ceiling. What happens when I’m not available, and how can we grow if there is only one of me? Along the same lines, I would build more margin in to my schedule for my family and personal health.

John Wells, CEO, Sub-technologies,
Lee’s Summit, Missouri
Have patience, think things through clearly, and, above all, don’t invest the whole farm in any one idea.

Mark Robert Halper, owner, Halper Fine Art
Los Angeles, California
Be the business you want to grow into and take the risks that will make it stronger from the ground up. Dressing for success doesn't necessarily mean $500 shoes; it can also mean that you build your business as if you are already successful and make those decisions that a successful business would make because they act out of confidence rather than fear.

Jon West, owner, Chillicothe Carpet
Chillicothe, Ohio
When times are tough, take the opportunity to evaluate your procedures and take an honest look at how you approach your market. Don't panic. Talk with others about it. Make sure it’s someone who can help you see things clearly and has an unbiased opinion. The way you do business can and will change. Take this time to see if you can better yourself and make you stand out from your competition.

No matter if you’ve owned a company for decades or are new to the world of entrepreneurship, there’s always room to learn. So find a mentor, pick up a business book, or do whatever it takes to continue developing your skills and your brain. If you aren’t learning, growing, and reaching new goals, your business won’t either.

To learn more about business, team building and leadership, download our newest EntreLeadership Podcast.

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