Five things I wish I knew before starting up

Sylvia Pennington

How do you become a self-made millionaire before you hit 30? Find your passion and fail forward. The sooner you start, the faster you learn and the more you fail, the more you can grow.

Jack Delosa, CEO of entrepreneur training firm The Entourage is gearing up to release his second book, Unwritten, later this month. We caught up with him to talk shop about his journey towards high profile profitability and the experiences that have, at times, been a ruthless teacher.

Here are the five things Delosa wishes he’d known before starting up back in 2010.

It’s personal

There’s business life and there’s personal life, right? Not any more, if you hope to excel in the former, according to Delosa.

“The growth of your business is determined by your level of personal and professional growth,” he says. “In today’s business world your business really needs to be an honest reflection of who you are. You’re in the driver’s seat and you’re responsible from start to end.”

"In business there’s no roadmap or rule book so it’s all about finding people who’ve been there and done that…"

Keep learning

Think you know enough to make a good fist of running your own show? Maybe you do – but your willingness and ability to keep learning, formally and informally, are pivotal to success, whatever sphere you play in.

“In business there’s no roadmap or rule book so it’s all about finding people who’ve been there and done that and learning from their experience,” Delosa says. “Tapping into their expertise will accelerate your problem solving and growth.”

Customer is king

“The customer is always right” has been a marketing axiom for over a century. The business landscape may have changed since pioneering retailers taught their staff to make shopper satisfaction a high priority in the early 1900s, but the principle remains as valid as ever.

“The consumer is king,” Delosa says. “Great businesses are consumer-first businesses. As a startup founder or business owner you need to know how to build products and craft messages that speak to the hearts and minds of the people buying your products and services.”

"While respecting people’s opinions and listening to intelligent feedback, you need to have a high degree of self-belief…"

Yes, I’m different

Go out on your own, particularly at a young age, and you can expect to attract comment. Not all of it will be encouraging, so it’s vital to back yourself if you hope to stare down the naysayers and stay your course.

“You are veering from the safe, traditional career path most people follow, therefore what you’re doing may be deemed risky or even stupid,” Delosa says.

“While respecting people’s opinions and listening to intelligent feedback, you need to have a high degree of self belief and resolve to follow a path that’s meaningful to you.”

Don’t get comfortable

Want to feel comfortable? Buy an armchair but don’t try to run your own show.

“Entrepreneurs operate in an environment of perpetual uncertainty and nothing is ever perfect,” Delosa says.

“In the beginning you’ll have revenue challenges and then you’ll have profit challenges, then staff challenges, customer challenges… The challenges will never stop and the challenges are there to ensure we’re able to rise to the next level of our own growth but that means always living outside your comfort zone and you need to learn to enjoy that.”

Sylvia Pennington

Sylvia Pennington is a Brisbane-based freelance journalist who writes about small business, information technology and personal finance.

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