Becoming a better entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs are insane, they take huge risks, put everything on the line – all for the sake of doing what they love – starting and building companies. To be an entrepreneur you have to be confident and know what it takes to make it happen – I love saying that! You can’t let anything stand in your way of getting things done…nothing.

And, these same traits that are necessary to be a great entrepreneur might also be holding you back from becoming even more than you thought you could be.

Let’s take a look at what might be holding you back and see what we can do to push you to be better.

You

You need to wake up each morning and look seriously in the mirror. The one who is going to hold you back is you. The first person you need to learn to lead is yourself. And, if you can’t lead yourself, how do you expect to cast vision and lead a team. You can’t. Look in the mirror every morning and get yourself in check.

A level entrepreneurs attract an A level team

If you think you are the shining star and you don’t need anyone else, then you suck. You deserve to have you ass beat and thrown out into the streets. Great entrepreneurs know that they need to surround themselves with the best and brightest team. The better the team the better the outcome.

Over the years I’ve built both A level teams and B and C level teams. Let’s just say the B and C level teams taught me a very valuable lesson: take the time to hire the best and don’t settle for anything less.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

A mentor use to tell me to always keep a high level of communication. He use to ream my ass everyday about communication to the point I finally learned. He beat it into me and I am so thankful he did.

If you want to piss people off, fail to communicate with them. This is no different at home with your wife or your kids. You need to communicate. Let your people know what’s going on, both good and bad – I’ve learned this lesson too.

Invest in creating a culture that communicates well and rewards for it too.

Built a family not just a team

Stop looking at your team as people who just make you money. Look at your team as if they were family. Care for them, love on them – not physically, and do what you can to always be there for them – that is what family does.

Always be understanding, put yourself in their shoes, and do what you can to help them pursue their goals and dreams. It’s not just a team that you should be building, you should be building a family.

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How about you? 

What can you do to be a better entrepreneur?

 

San Diego startup community is making it happen

Friday, I attended an event put on by Brant Cooper and the startup community in San Diego. Brant Cooper helps startups get started – they need it sometimes. He is also the author of the popular lean startup book “The Entrepreneurs Guide to Customer Development.” Give him a Google, he is writer, speaker, consultant, and all around cool guy.

David Cohen, the founder and CEO of TechStars was in the house talking about their accelerator program and what it takes to grow a localized startup/tech scene. The event was packed and very well received.

It was cool to see all the people sharing their ideas, their companies, and their efforts/hard work to continue building the startup community. I tell you what, this is a community you need to watch – something is taking shape and fast.

Heading into the event I had no expectation other than to hear David speak and to see what the startup scene was like in San Diego. I was blown away after just being there a few minutes. I wasn’t expecting it, honestly.

After the talk by David Cohen, Brant had organized FREE beer at a pub on campus at UCSD. Yes, free beer! That topped it off for me. Great event, great people, and free beer. I’m sold!

Talking with the different entrepreneurs, you got a sense that everyone is not out for themselves and what you can do for them, but what can they do to support the overall effort of building the community. You don’t see this very often, so it was enlightening. That is what it takes – people supporting people to grow and get things done.

Lets just say this, people are fired up and they’re putting in the work to make a killer startup community happen. Let’s support them.

Keep it up San Diego! And, thanks for the warm welcome and free beer! You rock!

 

Epically failing on purpose

Are you afraid to epically fail? Not me, I epic fail on purpose. We need more people willing to take risks and epic fail on purpose. Well, epic fails that don’t totally wipe us out, but that make us bolder and more confident in our abilities. Epic fails that teach us lessons about what works and what doesn’t.

Epic failure is something I enjoy very much. Why? Because, each time I fall down and scrape up my knees I learn something very valuable that I wouldn’t have learned before. I learn how far I can go, how high I can jump, and how much money it’s going to cost!

When I fail, it moves me away from what doesn’t work and closer to what does. I like the sound of that – moving closer to what works. We all want to know and understand the things that work, right? But, how can you learn the things that work until we’ve tried and epically failed at the things that don’t work.

Think experiments. We may try hundreds, if not thousands of experiments until we find a solution. The same is true with projects, ideas, startups, dating, and the million other things we try to figure out in life. But, we have to be willing to epically fail at these things.

Parents don’t always teach us this, schools screw it up, and so do your bosses. Don’t listen to these safe boring people, they are going nowhere. You need to epically fail at things, it’s part of the learning experience. You can do it, epic fail. Just don’t wipe yourself out!

 

Why realistic optimism?

Over the years I’ve been an overly optimistic person not always looking at the reality of the situation – it got me into trouble more than once. If you know me personally, you can probably appreciate the above statement. This has since changed (In the last year or so) and it’s treating me very well.

I was the fired up dude drinking the Kool aid not willing to face and embrace that which was real. Why? I don’t know why, really. Maybe  the thought of failure scared the shit out of me. So, instead of focusing on that, I would just focus on being optimistic and hoping and wishing for the best.

I was also raised that way. My mom is probably one of the most optimistic people you will ever meet. And, she was the one making the Kool aid!!! Haha.

Looking back, I use to say things like this, “Everything is going to be fine, we just need to keep going!”. Not taking the time to analyze the problem or challenge and build “several” plans that could be executed. This was so stupid of me to say these kind of things. Idiotic. If I would have only been more realistic with a dash of optimism. Not to drown on that though. There is a fix.

I haven’t given up on optimism, I’ve just decided to lean on the side of realistic optimism where today I say things like, “We are up against some serious challenges and here is how we propose to overcome them. We are not sure any of this will work, these are just the plans we’ve come up with thus far to address them. And, I do believe that together, as a team, as passionate warriors, (You need to be a warrior if you want to be in business today) we will meet these obstacles and challenges and find a way over them. I don’t doubt it for a second.”

This is what it looks like to express realistic optimism. Feels just as good, and, it is realistic!

Have fun and keep it real friends!

 

7 Random Thursday Thoughts

I’ve traveled a lot over the last few weeks and it has given me plenty of time to be by myself and do some deep thinking. As part of this deep thinking, I put together 7 random thoughts that I wanted to share with you. Let me know what you think.

1. Don’t go and start a friggin’ company unless you are going to be absolutely addicted to it. Are you willing to work on it day and night? What about when your friends call you and want you to go out and grab a few drinks? Are you willing to turn them down to work all night to meet a deadline or get an order out? If you’re not willing to do these things, then don’t go and start a company. Keep your job. Seriously.

2. If you want to build a company fast, go alone ( keep in mind companies that are built fast and alone don’t last long…I’ve been there). If you want to build a company that can go far, go together. This means you build a team that can carry the company to places that you only dreamed of.

3. Hire people who are just as fired-up about your idea and your company as you are. If they’re not just as fired-up as you are, then keep searching for the right team members….they are out there.

4. Be intentional about putting together a group of friends who are there for you no matter what. When times are good, they are there for you. When times are bad, they are there for you. No matter the circumstances these friends are there for you. They will drop anything to come along side you.

5. Sell, sell, sell, or watch your company go to hell. If you can’t get sales coming in, you will watch your company be cast into a fiery place of torment.

6. Get out their and G&G (Grip and Grin). Attend events, go to conferences, setup lunch meetings, do whatever you need to do to meet people and share your company story with them. Don’t expect people to come knocking on your door – people have no clue who the heck you are.

7. Don’t be lazy, do your own PR. You are the best one to tell your story. Why would you hire a company to follow-up with the people you read and see in the publications? Those people publish their emails. Next time your reading or watching something, capture the person’s name and their email address. Once you have that info, follow-up, introduce yourself, and tell them your story. It is their job to find great stories. And if your story sucks, it would be a waste of time either which way.

 

Two thumbs up to a happy and prosperous year!

I just wanted to give you two thumbs up to a happy and prosperous year! I don’t know what it is. Maybe the fresh Southern California air (yeah right), maybe my ultimate fitness class, Trader Joe’s, or something else, but I’m fired up this year and you should be too!

Things are really coming together. Projects are gaining good traction, people are positive and making things happen, and I’m loving every second of it! Good stuff!

If you’re not fired up, here is a kick in the ass. Get going.

This year you’ll set new milestones, climb over obstacles that you thought were impossible, take care of your customers, invest in your team and get them more involved, and finally, you will wake up everyday ready to hustle.

If you don’t do these things, you failed yourself.

 

VISION OVER CUSTOMERS

Are you placing a higher value on listening to your customers over creating a vision of how business and products can be done differently? If this is you, as Mark Cuban would say, “You need to have your ass kicked.”

Customers aren’t always the smartest person in the room, so stop building your organization around them. I’m not saying you shouldn’t conduct focus groups and customer insights (these are super important), I’m just saying you shouldn’t build your entire organization around them.

Talking with lots of companies and entrepreneurs, I’ve learned that one of the biggest mistakes you can make is asking your customers what features or services they want to see – this isn’t always the case, just the majority of the time.

Instead of asking your customers what they want, come up with a vision of how business can be done differently, how the game can be changed. Customers don’t always see the value or need until they are slapped in the face with it. And when they try it, they love it and tell their friends!

It’s not the job of your customers to know what they want or need. That is your job. It is your job to study, predict, and create the future. Be a futurist, a visionary, a Steve Jobs.

When you think of customers, you think of people who work a full time job, run their kids around, go to school, along with several other things all wrapped into their day. They don’t have the time to do your job too.

It is your job as the entrepreneur to invent the future and stay ahead of the curve. Look high and low, around corners, inside the box (I will blog about this later), whatever it takes.

Now, go make your customers happy, take care of their needs, and listen to them. Just don’t build your entire company around them.