Since it was founded a little longer than a year ago, my company, CoachUp.com, has gone from one to 20 employees. We started with nothing, but today have more than 7,000 coaches. Our revenue is growing more than 30 percent month over month. Today, we are the nation's leading private coaching company.
I've had a lot of great advice along the way. We've been in three incubators already: the Cambridge Innovation Center's Critical Mass program (where we were hatched), the Mass Challenge Accelerator program (where out of over 1,200 applicants, and 120 finalists, we won the No. 1 "Most Likely to Succeed" prize), and the prestigious Boston TechStars program. I have 15 angel investors and three VC firms. I have a five-person board and two formal advisors. Last but not least, I have really bright employees with great ideas of their own, who oftentimes have more "on-the-ground" knowledge about our community than I do.
I am very fortunate to have access to a lot of great advice. But I'm finding that if you are successful early on, your main challenge quickly shifts from getting access to amazing people who can help (my pain point in the first few months) to suddenly having information overload. That is, having so many ideas thrown at you, so little time, so many decisions, and so many people depending on you that it becomes difficult to pick out what's most important and focus on getting it done.
Which is why the best advice I ever received all has to do with managing a busy schedule and making quick, tough decisions:
1. Try to get three important things done every day.
Write them down on a sticky note in the morning and carry them with you. Get them done. After that, it's simple: Be happy, feel like you made progress, don't forget to eat, laugh at least once, and get exercise every day.
2. Focus, focus, focus--but only on things that really matter.
Talk about them all the time. Get them done. Don't worry about the noise of little things; just make quick decisions on them and don't lose sleep over them. Focus on the big ones.
3. Help the people who help you, thank them all the time, and stay humble.
Realize that you are lucky to be where you are, and recognize that at any second, everything you have worked so hard for could be taken from you. Don't be afraid of that fact--just remember that there are so many incredibly talented people who never had an opportunity to do what you are doing, and keep them in mind whenever you are tired or whenever you find yourself complaining about little things.
By the way, all three of these things I learned not from VCs or serial entrepreneurs I know and work with. Rather, I learned them from my most important mentors of all: My parents.
Jordan Fliegel is founder and CEO of CoachUp.com, the nation's leading private coaching company. He also founded Bridge Boys, a seed-stage technology investment firm in Boston.