The First Year in Business – Four Learnings

“I am going make fresh, organic foods for children. It will be great fun. It will be fun. The company actually started in 2007 to produce organic meals for children living in Salem, Oregon. My first year was a reflection of four lessons I learned.

Lesson 1 I did not realize that the task I set out was nearly impossible. This made my grand visions achievable. However, I haven’t been able do it by myself. It is essential to surround yourself by exceptional, experienced people. Not just your close friends, but trusted others with different skill sets than you. These people will “tell” you what it is. It’s not easy to find such people. An investor informed me very early that he was not investing my product or company. Instead, he was investing into me. It is important to sell yourself as an entrepreneur before you can sell the actual Brandon Long Marketing Consultant concept. Acceptance is normal in the early stages. You need to be able sell yourself by being a part of any event or picking up the phone. Talented people will find you eventually if your passion is genuine and you are interesting.

Lesson 2 is that entrepreneurs are driven to succeed. This is the drive behind a new company and the reason an idea becomes a passion. The entrepreneur must know when to shift from being the passionate driving force to becoming a reserved strategic planner or leader. I find this crucial because someone must look at the bigger picture. When a company is growing and begins to gain momentum it needs someone “steering” the ship.

Lesson 3 Cash is King. Cash is your king. It is a common saying, but it is very true. As entrepreneurs, we need to come up with creative and new ways of conserving our working capital.

Lesson 4 is that time management is something people often discuss and write about. However, if you are the President of a Company, especially a New Company, you have to make sure that you only spend your time, effort, resources and time on activities that will be immediately useful, necessary, or profitable. My personality tends toward being polite and people-pleasing. I enjoy talking to anyone who shares my passions for organic foods, healthy eating habits for children, and sustainable methods to save the environment. This can be a great way to have a stimulating conversation but is not the best use for your resources.

My four main lessons were people, leadership, cashflow, and resource management when I started a company. But I believe that the real challenge lies with constant improvement and being open-minded to learning new lessons. As business leaders, the job of managing a company’s operations is never finished. This is what makes being an entrepreneur so interesting and rewarding.

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