On the 1st of February 2013 I started a business with Ruan Oosthuizen who has become one of my best friends. I had no idea how to run a business or what the business would eventually mature into, but a year and 1 month later I can say that I’ve learnt a few things. This is by no means a boasting session but rather my thoughts on the knowledge I’ve gained over the period of a year. Heaven knows, I still have a lot more to learn.
1. Care about tomorrow but don’t worry about it
I’ve always been a bit of a worrier, the reason why I didn’t start a business earlier. As I’ve grown up a little bit (still have a lot of growing up to do) I’ve learnt that worrying renders nothing but sleepless nights, and sleepless nights produce poor performance tomorrow. I’ve learnt to care about tomorrow, after all tomorrow is important, but there’s no use in worrying. Most of what you worry about never happens anyway.
2. Not everyone is going to like you
I’ve always cared a heck of a lot about what people think about me. I’m a people pleaser and hate knowing that I’ve let people down. The fact of the matter is you can’t please everyone. Not everyone is going to like you in this life. Life’s far too short to allow the fear of how people may or may not perceive you to hinder your journey. It’s obviously helpful to behave in a way that’s likeable, because hey if most people don’t like you, then there’s a problem. Be OK with not being liked by everyone. Don’t be malicious, but chase your dream knowing that for whatever reasons, you’re not going to be everyone’s favourite person. Chasing your dream sometimes means making unpopular decisions.
3. You are good enough
According to my academic performance at school I was average. I think I was always 1 or 2 percent above or below the grade average. In fact I scored a whopping 54% for Higher Grade maths in my final matric exam. Average! However here I am today writing a blog post about having started a business that’s doing rather well for only having been around for a year. I have learned that when you find your niche, you discover that you’re not just an average Joe. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’ll never amount to more than your academic achievements at school. You’re as good as the ‘hero’ in your office that everyone raves about.
4. Follow your gut
I’ve learnt that if it doesn’t sit well then there’s nothing you can do to make it do so. Listen to your gut, it’s one of the few things we have in this life that’s often accurate. Heaven knows that we’re often faced with tough decisions, your gut knows more than you think.
5. Work smart not hard
I think I’ve only pulled 2 or 3 15+ hour days in the past year. I’ve learned that working too many hours only burns you out and makes you less productive. You need sleep. Rather work smart, you’ll be better off for it. Spend time with family and friends, you need it. We live in a world where “I’m busy” qualifies you and earns you respect. I’d rather say “I’m healthy and successful”. It means cutting down on the things that slow you down and doing the things that make you more productive.
Give more than you get. That’s the rule in every area of life.
7. Your attitude matters more than your skill
I’ve learnt that knowing stuff is good, but having a great attitude matters more. There’s nothing worse than trying to work with someone who’s as grumpy as hell. It’s tiring. I know this is cheesy but be the person you want to work with. Your attitude matters and sets the atmosphere in your business.
8. Take a step back
I tend to react emotionally sometimes – when you’re in the bottle, you can’t see the label. If you feel that a client or fellow employee or even family member has said something in a way that irritates you then rather take a step back. Don’t respond immediately. Go and have a coffee, then respond. There’s a difference between reacting and responding.
9. Give people the benefit of the doubt
I’ve often made assumptions that turned out to be incorrect. People aren’t as bad as you think they are. Yes, every now and again you come across some people who you’d rather not have around. First empower people to be their best, then re-evaluate.
10. Partner with people
I honestly don’t think we were made to go at it alone. We all have only so much we’re good at, we all need partners who possess the strengths we lack. The same holds true whether it’s a marriage partner, running partner, gym partner or business partner. I count myself blessed to have a partner like Ruan Oosthuizen. I’m quite aware of the fact that it’s unique to have a business partner that you can trust with your life and who is ultimately one of your best friends. Even if you’ve been previously burnt, open yourself up to trust others. Remember, people aren’t all bad.