Starting your career with your own business is an exciting, yet scary, adventure. It can be difficult to know where to start, who to turn to for advice, and how to manage your personal life on top of a rapidly growing business. Here’s the best I’ve gathered throughout my years as an entrepreneur:
Find your passion
Passion is a powerful thing. When dreaming up my last company, Fit Brains, I was driven by the desire to build a business that would have a strong social impact. Inspired by advancements in neuroscience and how brain training could help everyone from baby boomers and kids to people with concussions, I went all in and started a company that fused neuroscience and gamification. My team’s passion for helping people allowed us to navigate the peaks and valleys of establishing a successful product and company.
When I began to think about my next business venture, I realized my passions had shifted, and that I was fueled not only by affecting positive change, but also by my family. Family inspires me to work harder, be better, and push through any roadblocks that may come my way. It has become the foundation of my current company, Picniic. Find the thing that motivates you to get up and work every day, and make it the core of your business.
Create strong company culture
Hiring right is a tough job, especially when starting out on your own. When I started Fit Brains, I knew I needed great people around me, or else I would never succeed. And you have to find the right people from both a qualification and culture fit.
Early on, determine what values you want your employees to have, and how you want them to fit into your larger vision of company culture. It’s crucial to surround yourself with positive people who have the same drive and passion for your business as you do. I have found that meeting with as many people as possible is essential to understanding the range of candidates and finding the best people for each role. Don’t hire someone simply because they are a friend or look good on paper, and don’t be afraid to take your time in finding the right person, either.
Don’t do it alone
Another piece of advice for all budding entrepreneurs: Never be afraid to ask for help. Entrepreneurs typically want to do and finish things on their own. But if you’re going to manage your time effectively, you need to delegate tasks to people you trust. And doing so will show your confidence in them.
Know when it’s right to grow your company through acquisition
A few years after founding Fit Brains, it was acquired by Rosetta Stone. In the process, I learned a lot about working with a large, corporate business. When Rosetta Stone approached me, they had a larger vision of how Rosetta Stone’s products and Fit Brains could join forces, and I knew it was a positive move for Fit Brains. I was lucky—the timing was right. However, you never know if the acquisition will go through right up until the end—so many things can pop up and derail the whole deal. Proceed with caution, and always have a plan to put in place for how to move forward should the deal fall through.
As you navigate the process of building your own business, keep an open mind about opportunities that pop up along the way. I didn’t start Fit Brains knowing I would sell it to Rosetta Stone, or that I would eventually leave the company to pursue a new passion project. Entrepreneurship is rife with surprises and unexpected ups and downs. It’s all about being flexible, accepting help, and switching direction as you grow.