A question was posed to me some time ago that made me pause. What have I learned as a first-time entrepreneur? The real answer is everything and anything - about myself, my business and the kindness and resilience of others. I have learned more running Radiate then I ever thought possible.
I learned so many things as a first-time entrepreneur but here are a few things that really stuck out at me that I'd like to share:
1. Don't be worried that someone will steal your idea. The fact is you're very unlikely to be the first person on Earth with your brilliant idea. But you may be the only person who's capable of bringing that idea to life and to execute it well. Ideas are everywhere but being able to execute is a far greater skill that you need to succeed. Life is not the zero-sum game that we all think it is. There's plenty of success to go around. The other reason why you should tell everyone about your idea early on is that you want as many people as possible to kill it. You want to know early on if your idea is dumb and whether you can sustain the criticism. Be able to prove your idea to yourself and to others before launching hook line and sinker! (Registration required)
2. Culture is key. I didn't have as great an appreciation for corporate culture as I should have until I started Radiate. A strong corporate culture is critical in recruiting and retaining employees, a company culture can make or break a business. Nobody wants to work for a faceless organization - use your culture to differentiate yourself in the marketplace. Make it personal. Combine your culture with your company vision and make it the "true north." We recently had Casper's CEO Philip Krim join Radiate and he said one of the things he implemented early on was the "no a--holes" rule. He wanted only "good people" working at his company. And the more you grow, the more important it is to do an audit of your culture every year or so. To ask yourself--are you still staying true to it?
3. Hire slow and fire fast. I know some may disagree but as a first-time entrepreneur, I felt anxious to bring people early on with me just so I had company in the office. Don't. Don't just hire people to have a warm body in the room while you're doing 12+ hour days. You want to wait until you hire the right people with the right skills to help you grow. And if you find that you made a mistake, fire fast. Do not wait just because you feel bad. You'll be doing that person a disfavor by leaving them hanging on to a job they shouldn't be in.