Five Lessons I Learned as a Passionate Entrepreneur with Mediocre Business Skills

Over the years, I have learned what it takes to run a successful business -- here are five lessons that every startup can benefit from:

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Are you passionate about the service or product you provide, but lack fundamental business knowledge?

At 24-years old I started my business with two co-founders. I was a great consultant — but a mediocre business owner. Like many other entrepreneurs who start their own businesses to do what they love, I was completely focused on executing the work and I had a lot to learn about running the business.

Over the past few years, I’ve run into more than a few surprises while running the business with partners. I have also learned a number of lessons about what it takes to run a successful new business.

Here are five startup lessons that every startup can benefit from:

1. Cash flow is, and always will be, king.

When you are used to having your paycheck deposited directly into your bank account every two weeks as an employee, dealing with the cash flow of your own business can be a bit of a shock.

If you work with clients, invoices will be paid late (it’s not a matter of if, but when), and even highly profitable businesses can become strapped for cash at times—especially early on. Every entrepreneur should have a personal emergency fund in place to keep a cool head before business cash reserves build up.

2. You need a long-term vision to thrive.

When we started our business, we had no clear vision beyond the next year or so, which led to fear and stupid, short-term decisions. You cannot predict exactly where your business will be in the long-term, but at least make sure you discuss the vision with your co-founders so that you’re all working toward a common goal.

3. Fear and lack of focus are your worst enemies. 

It took us nearly two years to realize that fear was driving our business decisions. For example, we would take on design projects that would distracting from our larger focus, simply because we were afraid that if we turned them down, the next big opportunity might not come along. Once we finally got over fear and started turning away the design work to focus on our bigger vision, our business really started to take off.

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