9 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Own Business


1. Determination is the biggest predictor of long-term success

Many inspirational founders shared their stories, including the CEOs of Pinterest and AirBnB. Nobody had an easy road. The AirBnB founders — with a company now valued at $10 billion — had a famous story of hot gluing 1,000 cereal boxes to pay expenses in the early days. You can succeed, but often it is a matter of how badly you want to.

2. You will grow what you measure

Take a sticky note, and write one goal on it. Be specific. Now place it on your bathroom mirror, so that each morning you’re reminded of your No. 1 growth priority. If you’re building a company, this should be a week-over-week metric such as users or revenue.

3. Do not mistake activity for growth

Startup founders often don’t know what truly constitutes growth. Adding features to your product is not growth. Neither is getting a fancy office or going to a lot of events. Adding customers and building product counts as growth — that’s about it.

4. The key to growth is progress

If you’re not moving forward, here is a way to get tasks done through a life hack called workstation popcorn. You start with a list of three tasks, each with sub tasks. You go to three coffee shops and only move to the next one when you’re done a task. Make progress each day and you win.

5. The winner between the alligator and the bear is determined by the terrain

Not everyone is good at everything. Negotiate on your territory and play up your strengths.

6. Make decisions quickly

This can be hard for first time founders, but remember that time is a cost. There are 24 hours in a day. Understand the magnitude of decisions you are required to make and prioritize accordingly. Train yourself to become decisive, so you can move forward with execution.

7. Do not focus too much on competition

If I decided to become a basketball player tomorrow, do you think it would affect LeBron James’ career? Ignore the noise, because what others are doing is out of your control. Be aware of the players in the space you are in, but focus on getting to the top of your game.

8. There is no substitute for hard work

When we first started market-testing my first project, I spent weeks walking in and out of schools asking to speak with every principal and teacher, parent – whatever it took. It was tough, but also gave me the most eye-opening insights. The good news is that the tougher it is for you, the more difficult it is for others to replicate.

9. Opportunity is everywhere

Do NOT play victim (I’m too young, inexperienced, don’t have this or that) – just get building.