Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
Jesus is my hero. He was the leader of the most influential group in history, he was wildly respected by a wide range of people from Ghandi to Napoleon, and he fearlessly fought against the injustices of the time from the political and social elite. His background is fascinating as he was allegedly raised by a single mother, was homeless for a period of his life and was from a small relatively unknown town in the Middle East.
What’s the single best piece of business advice (unorthodox tips welcome!) that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Take time to reflect every day. The questions I’m constantly asking myself are: What am I thankful for today? Why am I doing what I’m doing? When you aren’t taking the time to reflect, it’s easy to lose perspective on trivial circumstances or get pigeonholed into doing things that aren’t meaningful. Spend time writing about contrarian views and questioning the common narratives of the day. This allows you to practice your critical thinking and creativity. These are the main things that are going to differentiate you from your competitors.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
The first business I started was mainly started on trust and without a clear mandate from all partners that this was something that everyone wanted to do. After we got going, one of our key partners dropped out and the rest of us were left out to dry. I think communication with your team and a clear vision and mission are key before you start any business because after you get going, it’s very hard to go back.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I try to keep as regimented of a morning as I can because I tend to just go off the rails when I don’t. This includes brief time for checking email, a short exercise, shower, breakfast, reading, prayer and journaling.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Make sure to keep your run rate extremely low if you want to start a company. Don’t live in a expensive apartment, don’t go out to eat every day and don’t have an expensive car lease. A lot of entrepreneurs start companies when they are getting paid a lot of money from other companies and they expect to be able to keep the same lifestyle. Starting a company is extremely challenging, and one of the biggest variables that you can move around early on is your pay. If you can’t do that, that severely limits your ability to invest in your company at a critical stage.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Make sure you have all of your employees (and yourself) learn good processes and best practices. I have all my employees learn how to use David Allen’s Getting Things Done and Zero Inbox. We’re also strict about using agile development on everything that we do; we’ll occasionally even consult teams on how to use agile processes as well. You can’t create great products without strong processes.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
My definition of success is taken from the apostle Paul who says, “…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” Contentment whether you have a lot or a little is my definition of success. If your “success” is tied to anything else, you’ll always fall short. As entrepreneurs, we are constantly failing and succeeding and it’s critical to your sanity to find contentment outside of those vicissitudes.