Tomorrow’s the day the website for Seven Learning goes live, so it seemed a good time to get back to blogging.
Seven Learning does leadership development for high potentials, but not in the typical way. We base our programs on classic works by and for leaders: works by great thinkers such as Shakespeare, Churchill, Plato, and Jane Austen. Check out the site to learn more: http://www.seven-learning.com
So, what have I learned over the past year about starting a business? Three big things:
1. Patience, patience, patience. John Humphrey, founder of The Forum Corporation and visionary in the learning industry (and a wonderful coach and mentor), gave me some advice about 6 months ago that really made me see things a new way. He said that most entrepreneurs think they have to move fast: raise a lot of money quickly, build products, be first to market. What they don’t realize is that the average new business takes 7 years(!) to become cash-flow positive. That means you need to think of the process as a marathon, not a sprint: Husband your resources. Spend money slowly. Spend energy slowly. Take your time.
2. Always have several irons in the fire. Or maybe a better metaphor: several horses in the race. At any given time, one or more of your horses will be slowing or stumbling, and when that happens, you’ll want to be able to hop onto one of the others and keep moving forward. For example, I have a book I’m writing, products in development, a website to create (and now, manage), and a potential client/partner relationship underway. I’ve also taken on side projects that weren’t directly related to Seven Learning but that help keep my skills sharp. Each of these pursuits has slowed or even reversed at one point or another; it’s just the way it goes. When that happens, it’s good to be able to say, “OK, let’s get off that horse for the moment and get onto this one over here.”
3. See point 1. ……… patience.
What’s your number 1 piece of advice about starting a business?