Serial entrepreneurs are often more successful in starting companies than first time founders. While ambition and passion can go a long way, business experience can be an invaluable asset for a growing startup.
There are certain skills and instincts that you can only pick up on the job that can dramatically improve your startup's chances of survival. In the hyper competitive landscape that we live in today, anything you can do as a founder to improve your odds is incredibly valuable.
One of the best ways to pick up on these key insights, before founding your first company, is to talk to serial entrepreneurs who have been in the industry for a while and have had the time to see both the ups and downs of business.
I sat down with Lori Taylor, a Forbes top 20 social media power influencer and the founder of TruDog, a family owned pet company. I had her share some of her favorite pieces of advice that would be helpful to anyone starting their first business, as well as what she knows now all these years later:
As of lately, it seems like everyone and their family members are diving into entrepreneurship and starting their own business. While it's great to see all these new businesses up and coming, we also see a ton more failures.
I asked Lori what she thought about becoming a successful entrepreneur, she told me straight, "Big red flags early on are things like founders getting excited over shinny pennies as they don't stay focused on their mission, passion, and purpose."
Focus is, of course, much easier said than done. As an entrepreneur it can always feel like there is so much to do and accomplish in any given day. To stay afloat, you must be able to sift through the mess of distractions and figure out what is best for you, your business, and your customers.
Invest in Your Team
Many first time founders want to micromanage and do all of the work for their company. While the hustle is always appreciated, this can be a huge mistake. Time spent like this is not scalable.
"The most successful entrepreneurs that I know, I mean the ones that keep doing it over and over," Lori says, "are the ones who are really excellent team builders. They know how to be the quarterback, how to be the team owner, and, perhaps more importantly, put a quarterback in place and put a team in place so that the culture would flourish."
The most successful entrepreneurs and leaders are able to delegate. Teams really appreciate managers and leaders who respect autonomy and trust them to get the job done. Micromanaging can cause a lot of stress, Lori says, "for your team because you're in and you're out, you're in and you're out all the time."
No one gets in any sort of flow that way.
The biggest differentiator between serial entrepreneurs and first time founders is one single characteristic: patience. Recurrent founders understand that good products take time and not to get too excited too early on.
Too many people quit in the middle because they get bored and impatient. The best founders are in it for the long run.
Lori admits, "it's super fun in the beginning - right? So fun. Everyone's excited, you've got your presentation, you've got your stats, you're going to investors, they want you to be right, this could be the one, this could be their big investment that goes there. And everyone's excited. And you get there, and you get that first big jump, and it starts happening. And then, you run out of inventory, things start to get hard."
When things get hard - that is when the fat is trimmed and startups have to show what they are really made of.
Lori is pretty honest about her career," I think there's a lot of entrepreneurs out there that struggle - I mean we've all been there."
And it's not like all of her ideas are wild successes.
"Of course I've failed, obviously, I'm 47. I've failed more than once. But looking back on my failure that really wasn't something I could work around or was a hindrance."
Failure is often an integral part of the learning process. The best leaders are perhaps also the "best fail-ers."
Lori's most helpful piece of advice: "So, fail quickly and fail forward." The key is to use your failures to push you forward in all aspects of your business. The best entrepreneurs not only understand that, but really embrace it as a methodology for learning.