#1 Pivot fast: If you keep doing the same thing, you will just keep getting the same results. If a problem arises, find the root cause and make changes. There is no such thing as keeping things constant. At Penn Olson, we change a lot even up to now.
#2 Don’t be stupid, ask: There isn’t a point to guess when you can actually ask. We changed our focus to Asia because we asked what readers want. If your product has a problem, ask your consumers why it sucks. Chalkboard made a lot of critical changesjust by asking. I also often ask my team members if I have done/manage certain things in the right way. Thanks Rick.
#3 Network, network, network: Tech guy or not, you have no reason to hide in your dormitory or office. Start by stalking others on LinkedIn, send emails, and do some real meet ups. That’s how I get involved in the tech community and I’m still meeting and connecting. It is never a waste of time. The connections you make might come handy in the future.
#4 Be humble: A little air of arrogance is needed in an entrepreneur. But keep it in check to avoid offending others (no one likes an asshole). I learned through the hard way (yes, I used to be an asshole) and realized that things are so much better when you’re humble. My straightforwardness somehow presented me as an arrogant person and it took me sometime to change.
#5 Listen: Being humble comes with listening. Listen to feedback, especially the bad ones. If someone bothers to criticize, it shows that something is really wrong and he cares to tell you what went wrong.
#6 Don’t listen: When someone gives you feedback, ask yourself if he is an expert, a poser or a wet blanket. I’m not asking you to walk away from posers and wet blankets. Listen, be truthful to yourself and get the relevant content. You know your businessbest.
#7 Help others: No matter how busy we are, we do our part by helping founders to connect with investors and mentors in Asia. It is our vision to help build a connected Asian tech community. We also get non-tech-related emails that seek advice on jobs, the Asia market and contact recommendations. We usually help if we can.
#8 Speed, timing, openness: Build and ship fast. Forget about keeping things in stealth. Embrace the open concept.
#9 Work hard, play hard: You need to have a healthy mind to run a healthy business. Work isn’t everything. Exercise, drink some booze and dance wildly to keep your mind sharp. I have been cranky lately but some sleep and beer did the trick to get me back on track.
#10 Stay lean and focused: What’s your current performance indicator? It could be web visits, building a team, getting users or revenue. Have a list of goals (focus just one or two) and ask yourself if your resources are being put into good use to achieving them. Eliminate things that are slowing you down and focus on the important matter first. It’s easy for me to write and even easier for you to read. But staying focused can be tough when there are so many noises and expectations from different stakeholders (including your mom and dad). I had this problem in my previous start-up.
There you go, my 10 lessons learned and more to come. What’s yours, entrepreneur?