Some random entrepreneur lessons learned over the past 2 years

Some random lessons learned over the past 2 years since I told my boss I would not work for him any longer and start up my own company. Random order, random subjects:

  • Don’t try to make things perfect. Ship the “good enough” and move to the next thing.
  • Don’t do everything yourself. Outsource, you only have 24 hours a day.
  • Ask for your money when you worked hard for it.
  • Don’t try to be the cheapest in the market, you attract toxic clients and you are worth more then being the cheapest.
  • Blog, produce content. Some of my blog articles I wrote years ago still bring in clients TODAY.
  • Build in recurring revenue. Small bits of recurring revenue, like annual licences, hosting, support, … You are building up an empire of money.
  • Patience. You can’t start your business now, and be a millionaire and employ 2000 people tomorrow.
  • Keep it simple. All things that you own, need your attention later on. The less you have, the less you have to manage and spend time on.
  • Decide and move on, don’t over-discuss topics.
  • Market first. Sell, then build.
  • You can not plan how things go. We started by making online event registration software, and ended up making niche web software for Renault car dealers (which is selling quite well these days) and some other niche products and software development services
  • Focus on the next small thing you have to do. Don’t focus on what might be needed to be done in 2 years from now.
  • Business plans are bullshit.
  • Time is your most valuable asset. Don’t sell your time for money. Invest your time in scalable things.
  • Lazer focus on very small niches. Don’t try to solve all things for everyone.
  • Put your signature (telephone, twitter account, website and blog) under every email you send out.
  • Pivot your business every week or few weeks. You learn something new every few days.
  • Don’t work too much. You have a family and your health to take care of. It’s not worth it to loose one of them.
  • Do some sport and have some hobbies.
  • Go out speak on conferences. I did it a few times, and every time (!) I had a new client within 24 hours after my talk. For some reason people see you as an guru when you are on stage and they want to sign a deal with you.
  • You don’t have to be the best in what you do, you have to show others that you are the best. That is called marketing. Technical people forget to market themselves.
  • A project is never finished. Live with it.
  • Hire great people. Be super strict on that, it’s super important for your company. You don’t have time to deal with a demotivated, lazy person.
  • Avoid as much as possible recurring costs. Keep control over your costs and watch cash flow closely.
  • Evaluate from time to time seriously what you are doing. Think deep. Is it what you really want? If no, then quit. If yes, you’ll be even more motivated.
  • Building something is not difficult. Selling it, is more difficult.
  • Don’t count on “luck” as a strategy.
  • Don’t hope for “getting viral”.
  • Use open source software, and contribute to it.
  • Say NO. If you don’t say NO to things, then clients will keep on negotiating for a lower price, people will keep on calling you for silly support, and that one person will keep on asking you to translate your software in his dialect.
  • You own the company, the company should not own you. There is ALWAYS something to do, but prioritize and organise.
  • Think big. Nothing ever great was achieved without thinking big.
  • Get enough sleep. Aim for 8 hours or more. I’m convinced that people that sleep a lot, are waaay more productive and creative.
  • Act, don’t think. Having an idea is great, but you won’t be paid for that.
  • Subscribe to this RSS feed.

Author: Pieter Eerlings

http://www.linkedin.com/in/pietere http://www.last.fm/user/pietereerlings

5 thoughts on “Some random entrepreneur lessons learned over the past 2 years”

  1. As I posted to your twitter, best post I’ve read this year. I was going to post one similar to this except obviously based on my experiences.

    Some I disagree with like “ship the good enough and move on” – works in some cases, not all. You should ship functional elements, not if it’s buggy etc.

    “You don’t have to be the best in what you do, you have to show others that you are the best. That is called marketing. Technical people forget to market themselves.” – love it!

    *subscribes*

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      About the “good enough”, of course it should not contain bugs etc, 100% agree. Main point is that some people strive for perfection. That’s an illusion, nothing is perfect. If you solve a real pain for people, they will pay you for the “good enough” solution. Done is better than perfect! :-)

  2. I wish there was a ‘reply’ button. That’s true, and people also focus on having a perfect design rather than providing functionality, easy to use software that solves problems. Rookie Mistake ;-)

  3. Great article, but on sentence “Market first. Sell, then build.”, what do you mean by build? In order to sell, you need to have something (product, service process) built…

    1. Thanks for your comment!

      Well, not really. You can (and should) measure demand before building something. What I see often, is people that stay in their basement, building wonderful software for months, without facing customers to see if they would buy it. Better to sell it first (go and speak to customers if they are any interested), and if you feel any interest, you know it’s worth building it…

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