Three years ago, my wife and I willingly jumped into the entrepreneurial deep end. And at that moment, effectively put our family under a near 7-figure sum of debt that we won’t shake loose from for a decade. Were we scared at times…? No – we were terrified, stressed, and on-edge for nearly 2 years. But looking back from the other side, I wouldn’t change those nerve-wracking years for anything. They’re what allowed us to pursue and fulfill our professional dream of becoming business owners.
Since we took that leap, our family and our business have been on a rollercoaster ride complete with tremendous highs and some… teachable moments.
(and one of our proudest accomplishments) helped provide Christmas presents to 12 families in our community
(Photo courtesy of Josie Ross)
I list that sample of experiences to say simply – we are learning business ownership as we go
I’m no business owner guru sitting high atop the mountain who’s throwing down scraps of experiences to benefit you and your business.
I’m the guy that’s in the trenches with you, taking fire, and working to come up with creative solutions to improve our businesses together.
We’re constantly thinking up (and borrowing) new ideas to improve our Team’s cohesion, earn more 5-star reviews, foster an amazing customer experience, increase profitability, and simply improve our competitive positions.
And it’s from those experiences that my writings on business ownership come. Both the wins and the losses. Because it’s one thing to read about theory and hypothetical situations in those large publications we all know and love…
But it’s another thing to hear from someone who’s living these lessons, day in and out, and trying to take from each experience to improve moving forward. I can’t afford to make the same mistake twice – my family’s financial security depends on my ability to process new information, make difficult decisions, and adjust course moving forward.
One way I keep myself calibrated is through writing about my experiences
After taking the emotion out of a situation, analyzing it days or weeks later, and trying to extract every relevant detail (to come up with the most complete post), only then do I learn the graduate level lessons from my experiences as a business owner.
I’m not promising all roses and sugarplums here. But I am promising consistent updates with honest transparency.
And as I’ve said above, my entrepreneurial journey is ongoing.
With that in mind, here are the 5 resources I’ve gained the most knowledge from as a business owner
I have given this book as a gift to at least a dozen friends and relatives. In fact, this text is our de-facto on-boarding program for our business.
When you show up on Day 1 at our office, you’re handed your new scrubs, payroll forms, job description, and a copy of this book. After Week 1 is over, we schedule our first meeting to discuss Chapter 1 and begin learning from these lessons to improve as individuals and to help implement our culture within our new teammates.
There are so many great leadership teachings in this book and the way that each chapter is constructed – with a real-life battlefield story that leads to a principle, which is then defined and finally applied to the business setting – helps to amplify and reinforce each chapter’s principle. It also makes chapter discussions easy to facilitate.
But maybe the most valuable lesson I have learned after reading through this book nearly 10 times is that by putting the Team before self, not only does the Team win but by definition so do your individual ambitions and goals.
Kevin Kelly is the founding editor of Wired magazine and he’s been proclaimed to be “The most interesting man in the world” by Tim Ferriss (an interesting guy in his own right). Kelly has written poignantly about both technical and basic concepts and he’s widely regarded as a brilliant dude.
This post is arguably his most popular work…
Kelly claims that as a business, writer, or creator of any kind – achieving stardom and huge fame is not the path to success.
In today’s culture where our modern tech giants and business billionaires have formed companies in dorm rooms, garages, and home offices that went on to be valued in the billions of dollars (with a ‘B’) that we can get caught up in trying to scale our (insert talent/business here) to that astronomical level from Day 1.
Instead, Kelly advises winning over just 1,000 true fans that would drive across the country to see you.
People that would consume any product you create because it comes from YOU. Develop those fans and cater to them, and when you get your mindset in that space, success is easily achievable and can come in many forms.
How do you go about developing 1,000 true fans who would do anything to buy your product…?
Well, that depends – Here’s what we’re doing
In the book, Captain D. Michael Abrashoff details his unorthodox approach to driving a ship for the US Navy. That’s both in the literal and figurative sense.
Rather than the traditional ‘top-down’ management techniques that one may assume would come with military leadership, Captain Abrashoff went completely against the grain.
By empowering his people, even at the most junior level, Captain Abrashoff and his crew far exceeded expectations and set a new standard for Naval competence in the modern day.
Much like Jocko Willink and Leif Babin (Extreme Ownership), Abrashoff gave ownership in many forms to even the most junior crew on his ship. He celebrated achievements, instilled pride, and built from the most stable foundation by supporting his junior-level people first – then worked his way up.
This book is entertaining, compelling, convincing, and is just packed with actionable advice for professionals of all levels.
Whether you’re driving the ship or are the lowest on the seniority totem pole, this book will help you perform better… Which will then help your team perform better.
And when everyone is improving as a group toward the common goal, well, that’s when amazing things can happen.
Although I don’t typically struggle with self-confidence, I’ll readily admit to the following facts: I am not a licensed investment banker, insurance salesman, accountant, loan officer, doctor, lawyer, or personal trainer.
I would probably argue that I could do a portion of some of the jobs above, but if you had any sense about you that argument wouldn’t last too long. And while there are many things I’m pretty good at, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in more than a couple of fields.
Why, then, would I assume that I am the best person to handle those jobs for our business – all on my own? I can’t possibly know enough about the case law, current accounting practices, most worthwhile insurances, and hottest investment funds that would put our family in the best position possible to succeed.
Taking it a step further, I’m definitely not comfortable in settling for mediocre or negative positions either. So, to do the absolute best for our company, I realized early on that great and knowledgeable help was exactly what I needed.
Professionals in these fields will have their hands in some of the biggest decisions you make as a business owner, which is why having the right advice and influence is so critical.
So take your time, ask questions, and make an informed decision that advances your business’ future.
5- Jumping from the roof and learning to fly on the way down
You can read until you’re red in the eyes but there’s something to be said about actually getting down in the trenches and learning as you go.
Personally, I prepared as best I could without going overboard and took advice from those I trusted, but there came a point when it was time to jump.
Much like people say, “You’ll never be ‘ready’ to have kids – you just have to do it and figure out the details in time.”
“On the battlefield, you never have 100% of the information. You need to make the best decision based on the 80% complete picture, then adjust course as you learn more moving forward.”
I don’t advocate jumping into parenthood, a battle, or business ownership blindly, but once you’ve done the prep work, saved up your money, created a sound plan, and built a solid foundation – it’s time to get moving and start making history.
Let’s get to it!
Are you considering entrepreneurship or are you a business owner currently? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Also – this post is 1 of 4 that I’ve designated to describe my “Why MikedUp Blog is here”. I’d love it if you’d check out the other 3 and my “Start Here” page – which is a quick summary of the blog and what you can expect to find. Thank you in advance!
Here are those links:
Why I Write About Family and How YOU Benefit (In Progress)
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