I recently read the article linked to below from the CEO of Foundr magazine, Nathan Chan, about the many lessons he learned in creating Foundr over the last 5 years.
From Novice to CEO of a Multi-Million Dollar Media Company: 37 Lessons from 5 Year of Building Foundr
I urge you to read the article as all of the lessons are good, but here are the Top 5 that I think are most important and why you should embrace them in your life and entrepreneurial journey.
#7: Your best ideas are the ones that keep coming back to you.
You’re not going to come up with a genius idea on the spot. It has to keep coming back to you, and you have to mull over it like a good glass of red wine and let it sit with you before you execute on it.
I wholeheartedly agree with this. It is the ideas that keep burning a hole in your mind and that you can't get rid of that end up being the best, no matter how crazy they sometimes sound.
#12: It takes 7-10 years to build anything of true worth and significance.
Any company that you truly admire took over a decade to build. I’m prepared to play the long game with Foundr.
As I've written about and spoken about many times, it comes down to the DCP formula. Discipline. Consistency. Persistence. If you have those day in and out for years, you will win. You will outlast. And you will flourish.
#14: Never rely on one single customer acquisition channel.
At Foundr, I’m always extremely cautious of dominating one channel, and always work to layer in more over time. For us, first it was Instagram, then it was email, then it was podcasts, then it was organic SEO and blog, now it’s PPC (pay-per-click advertising) and soon YouTube. The more channels we can use to generate a significant amount of traffic, the less risk we face.
The more comfortable you get and more reliant you get on one thing that works is great, until it doesn't work anymore. In today's world, that can change in an instant. Whole businesses can be decimated seemingly overnight (Remember, Kodak?). You must always be on the hunt for and willing trying to new channels to grow your reach and customer base.
#18: Your business lives and dies by cash flow.
It’s the oxygen of your startup, especially if you’re bootstrapping and not using someone else’s money to survive. You always need to make this a focus in order to build a sustainable business.
I confess that I have had trouble getting along with the CFOs/Accountants we have had in our businesses over the years because of exactly this. Cash is king and is what matters. No matter how good your business looks on paper or from an "accrual" accounting standpoint, you cannot stay in business without cash paying the bills. Therefore, much to the dismay and frustration of my CFOs and Accountants over the years, I have always focused on cash and challenged the health of our businesses (and thus by default challenged the analysis of the CFO and/or Accountant) when things look good on paper, but I can see cashflow challenges not being focused on. It has served me and the business well and kept us alive in the hard times. Cash is king.
#26: The smartest entrepreneurs reduce risk and maximize upside however they can.
One thing my mentor Mitch Harper taught me is to always reduce risk however you can. This is something I obsess over now when it comes to making critical business decisions. How can I stack the deck in our favor on both sides of the table?
Contrary to belief, the best entrepreneurs are not huge risk takers. They take calculated, asymmetrical risks. That means that for the little bit of risk they do take, the reward is exponentially higher. They also look at all the angles and look for how they can still succeed, even if the risk doesn't pan out or fails. You should always be looking at the whole picture and for how you can get massive upside for a small amount of risk.
BONUS! #37: To build a successful business, it has to be an obsession.
You have to want it so badly and you have to be prepared to do the work.