20 Entrepreneurs Share Lessons Learned Their First Year in Business

Don't miss these inspirational tips with the potential to transform your business in its first year of operation.

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Surviving your first year in business — as an entrepreneur — is a true accomplishment. Entrepreneurship can be likened to a high-speed roller coaster — full of highs and lows. But learning and anticipating common business challenges every entrepreneur faces can set your company up for small business success.

So, we asked twenty-one entrepreneurs to share the number one lesson they learned their first year in business. Don’t miss these inspirational tips with the potential to transform your business in its first year of operation.


1. Understand your brand.

“[You] can’t brand [your business] as the Taj Mahal of your industry if you aren’t interested in doing what it takes to become respected and earn customers’ trust.  You can have an incredible [public relations] campaign, but if service falls flat, the impact can be huge. [There is tremendous] value in having a likable, trustworthy, and growing brand.”

– Vanessa Wade, Owner of Connect the Dots PR: @PROCKSTAR

2. Have personal funding.

“One thing I’ve seen from other young startups is the feeling that they need to give away a lot of equity in the beginning. I worry that this dilutes the business too much early on. Having other funding, whether that comes from personal savings or from friends and family, allows businesses to get things started on much fairer terms.”

– Andrew Grauer, CEO and Co-Founder of Course Hero: @atgrauer

3. Face marketplace realities.

“It doesn’t matter how much experience you have or how good [your team is], you can work with the best strategies, best ideas and you can be very talented, but you always have to face the reality of the marketplace. The faster you start to talk to your customers, consider their needs and related conditions in which you try to do business, the earlier you can gain a success.”

– Ondrej Homola, CEO of Corinth

4. Don’t make emotional business decisions.

“Don’t make business decisions when you’re in an emotional state, even if it’s a positive emotion. It doesn’t matter if you’re happy, sad, angry, or excited; if you’re riding the highs and lows of emotion, you’re not thinking clearly. Wait until you’ve calmed down. If it still seems like a good idea then, go for it.”

– Anthony Lolli, CEO of Rapid Realty: @Anthony_Lolli

5. Embrace failure.

“Failing isn’t bad unless you allow it to be permanent. The difference between a true entrepreneur and a wannabe is the realization that failing comes in all shapes and sizes, that it’s part of the game, and that you have to take your punches and keep on moving.”

– Steve Duffy, President of List Here: @listhere

6. Press can be powerful.

“We started off doing some simple press releases, which got us our first write-up in a publication called InternetWeek magazine. Before the ink was even dry on the InternetWeek article, we were invited to appear as guests on CNBC’s Power Lunch segment. Since then, the media firestorm has never stopped, and without even trying, we’ve appeared on, or have been featured in CNN, Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, Fox Business, and many more media outlets.”

– Ian Aronovich, CEO of GovernmentAuctions.org: @govtauctions

7. Invest time in social media and SEO.

“Ever since we started our business, we’ve had an aggressive social media strategy, producing over 12,000 Facebook fans to date along with a ton of engagement on both Facebook and Twitter. And [sic] without doing any SEO or any dedicated effort to make our pages rank well on the search engines, we started appearing in lots of searches for a lot of keywords related to our industry. Of course, it helps to have something people like enough to share across various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+.”

– Michael Pesochinsky, Vice President and Co-Founder of GovernmentBargains.com: @govbargains

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