Let me give you a bit of context. For the last seven years I’ve known that entrepreneurship was the path for me. I craved the work, I craved the crazy hours, I felt excited by the fact that my business would inevitably become my life.
It was all perfect. So that’s exactly what I started working towards.
Seven years ago I had my first experience in the world of online business building. Since then I’ve started and failed multiple projects, earned money, and learned a lot of lessons.
In this article I want to share some of those lessons with you.
To begin with, for most of those seven years I wasn’t actually an entrepreneur. I was a wantrepreneur, a poser, a fraud.
I had a million and one ideas, I started a lot of cool things, but I never sold anything...that is to say...I never had anything to sell.
So there’s your first lesson:
You gotta freaking sell something!
Cool apps and ideas aren’t worth jack if you aren’t making money. Starting a business is incredibly simple when you really look at it.
Here’s the how it works:
Find something people want and then sell it to them.
Right now we are in this weird place where “entrepreneurs” are prioritizing growth and cool projects over everything else. Listen...it’s great that your app has 30,000 users, but if it’s not generating cash, and you have no idea how to generate cash, it’s not a business.
It took me a really long time to learn this incredibly simple thing:
Over the last seven years I’ve started so many cool things.
I built a web app that allowed users to find cool music based on a particular mood.
A partner and I created an event matching platform to help college students find cool events to go to.
I started podcasts and created videos and blah blah blah.
The entire time I called myself an entrepreneur and the “CEO” because I was “working on something cool”.
That’s just not how it works and that brings me to my next lesson:
Stop worrying about your title
Listen...if your “company” doesn’t have employees and revenue it doesn’t matter if you are the “CEO”.
Instead of going to every single networking event and introducing yourself as the CEO of the next “uber of…” app why not focus on creating your product, talking to potential customers, and getting a sale?
This is a super important point...please get this.
Your title is useless.
It means nothing.
Find the things that do matter and focus your efforts there instead.
Entrepreneurs organize resources towards producing a particular product and selling that product to a marketplace.
They don’t sit in a bedroom debating whether or not their title should be CEO or Chief Happiness Ninja or whatever other cute thing you can come up with.
They don’t sit and watch motivational videos all day long.
They don’t come up with a “brilliant idea” in a vacuum.
They have an idea, research the market, talk to customers, and then build a product.
That’s the third lesson:
Talk to your customers
Seriously do you know the #1 reason why most products fail? It’s because the creators don’t actually solve a problem that matters.
This is called product market fit.
That’s a fancy tech phrase from startup land but here’s what it means
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Finding product market fit literally just means creating a product for a specific market that solves a problem they need solved. That’s it.
How do you do that? One way is to spend hours developing a product and then desperately try to get it in front of people.
The better option is to choose a market and research it, get on the phone and talk to people, join groups and be a part of it, THEN create a product that addresses a problem these people face.
Afraid to talk to your potential customers?
Sorry but that’s the name of the game. You don’t need to be a people person or extroverted. You just need to understand what your customers want so that you can make it for them.
“But what if they don’t understand the idea?”
If you come up with a brilliant idea and are afraid to talk to people because they might not get it then you aren’t an entrepreneur.
You are an artist. There’s nothing wrong with that, but stop kidding yourself.
If your audience doesn’t get it its because you either did a bad job explaining it or it’s not something they care about. Either way it’s your fault, not theirs.
Here’s your final lesson:
Stop blaming the market
Seriously, stop blaming the market for your failures. Stop blaming your customers for not “getting it”. Stop blaming investors for not “understanding the vision”.
Most importantly if your company fails stop blaming everyone else.
It’s YOUR fault. It always is.
Either you didn’t do a good enough job explaining it and getting it in front of the right people, or you created something that doesn’t actually add any value.
Either way...it’s your fault.
Own that and learn from it and take that knowledge to your next thing.
Listen, I’m not trying to present myself as some expert entrepreneur. These are all the mistakes I’ve personally made. My hope is that in writing it here it will help others avoid making them as well.
I’m young. My journey is just beginning. I will be making a million and a half more mistakes from here until the day I die.
These are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned so far and in this article I pass them to you with one request.
Apply them in your existing businesses. Use them for your next business. Send them to a friend who needs to see them. One way or another take the value that this article brings and apply it in a way that can save you the time it took me to learn them.
And when you make your own mistakes and learn your own lessons, share them so that I can learn from you and avoid your mistakes as well.
Hey! Are you on Snapchat? I’m shooting some cool videos over there showcasing my journey as an entrepreneur in NYC. Would love to connect with you there. Add me @greggclunis or just scan the code below.