Photo of Lemonade sign by Rod Long on Unsplash

12 Things I Learned About Starting a Business (by Starting a Business)


The first thing I learned by starting a business is that it’s best just to do something. If you have an idea for a business, and you love the idea, and you believe it to be a good idea, then just run with it. If it doesn’t turn out great, or even if it fails, learn from your mistakes, and do it better next time. If you sit around just thinking about how to do something perfectly, you’ll never do anything. So rather than sitting around thinking about how to write the perfect article about this, I’m just going to jump in and start writing!

Here then is a list, starting with the second thing that I learned by starting a business.

  1. If you don’t love what you’re doing, don’t do it! Even if it’s something that can make a lot of money. Failure isn’t the worst thing; the worst thing is succeeding at the wrong thing.

  2. Be sure that what you’re doing is a business and not just a hobby. If your thing is disruptive performance art, then, by all means, go ahead and play bagpipes while riding a camel through a subway station . . . but don’t think it’s a business.

  3. No matter how much you love what you’re doing, it’s not going to succeed as a business unless it’s something that people want to buy.

  4. Starting a business is SUPER difficult and requires a FULL commitment. You can’t do it in your “spare time.” You will have no spare time! If you’re already married, it’s going to be even harder. If you have kids, you can pretty much forget about it.

  5. If you’ve got what it takes, starting a business can be the most rewarding thing you’ve ever done in your life. Yes, it’s difficult, but it’s also wonderful.

  6. You can’t do it alone. So, for example, if you need to do marketing, hire a marketing person. If you need to do PR, hire a PR person. If you need to create a website, hire a web designer.

  7. If you can’t afford to hire people, then you’ll have to share equity. If your dream is worth believing in, then there will be people who will be willing to share your dream.

  8. You’ll be amazed by how good other people are at what they do. You need to surround yourself with smart, passionate people, who know and love the thing that they do as much as you know and love the thing that you do. If your thing is programming, or baking, or fixing cars, then do that. Don’t waste your time trying to do marketing. You’re a not a marketing person. Someone else is a marketing person, not a programmer/baker/mechanic.

  9. Ask yourself what you’re good at. No, not just good. Ask yourself what you’re freaking amazing at! Those are the things you should spend your time doing.

  10. Never hire friends. Never work for friends.

  11. Business plans are worth less than the paper they’re printed on. But if you want to write one to help organize your thoughts, go ahead and do so. Just remember to throw it away when you’re done writing it.

Each one of these points was learned by painful trial and error. I could probably expand on each of these points. Maybe I should even write a book. Except I’m not a writer. See #9 above.

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