Think like an entrepreneur and nothing can stop you

Because I started a company in college – before ever having a “corporate” job – I didn’t know the rules.  I had to overcome any obstacle thrown my way and didn’t know you could say, “Well, that’s out of my control so I can’t do anything about that.” Or, “If my boss would tell people to listen to me, then I could be more effective.” Everything was in my control and if I didn’t figure out a way to make it happen, it wouldn’t happen.

There are many, many things I wish I had known about the industry and business in general before I started my agency back in 1998. For instance, I remembered in 2002 when we “invented” wireframes. We literally had never heard of wireframes and realized how much better it would be to develop websites by first drawing out what the site would look like on paper. We were very proud of ourselves for such an incredible differentiator, until a few weeks later when we hired someone that had been doing wireframes for years and informed us that EVERY digital shop had been doing wireframes for years. So there’s something to be said for working at a business before starting your own.

But the idea that I control my own destiny is something I will be forever grateful to have learned by being an entrepreneur first. I think businesses train people to think that they can’t really control their success within that business. That they must rely on others to do things for them and if those people don’t, well then its not their fault they weren’t successful.

Same applies to life. There’s almost nothing that is outside of your control. And at the very least, you can control how you react to things, what you learned and how you’re going to attack it next time. But boo-hoo’ing about all the challenges in front of you does nobody any good.

And here’s the kicker, people hate hearing that. Hate it. In fact, its the thing I say the most that pisses people off. But I’m going to keep saying it because the more people realize they can actually accomplish their goals without needing to rely on other people, the more satisfied they will be and the more things will be accomplished.

Challenge: Give me some examples of things at work that you think you can’t control, and I bet I can find a way that you could control it. I’d love to be proven wrong on this.


  1. edward blake mendez on April 26, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    thank you jeff. having one of those boo-hooey moments with marriage problems, having to sell our home to generate cash, independent business revenue anemia, and sometimes outright starvation with a first wife and an amazing toddler (except for my parents’ generosity which has worn thin on my end). going back through the years leading up to my personal challenges today does in fact make me cry and feel somewhat paralyzed when wrapped up in the moment of pain.

    want to leave the house of pain…on the bright side, we found out that we have: a) a couple of profound personal differences, b) a golden opportunity to sell in a crude oil bubble, c) revenue can change tomorrow, and d) genuine family support. the home sale will free me to pursue my independent professional path in a personally compatible geography, such as austin, denver, or seattle?

    any advice?

    blake mendez

  2. Jeff Hilimire on April 29, 2013 at 7:27 am

    Wow, thanks for sharing! But it sounds like you’ve done the most important part: finding the bright side. I find that there are all these great things happening in the midst of the toughest times.

    Maybe this process helps you and your wife find a better way to communicate and because of that, you’re celebrating your 50th anniversary down the road. Or maybe because work is tough and its hard to keep yourself busy, you get that precious, never-gonna-get-it-back time with your toddler and you look back and realize how lucky you were. Or maybe you’re forced to move to a new city (all of those you mention are amazing places to live) and you end up with a fresh start and a new lease on life.

    My personal belief is that by thinking in that way, thinking of the great things that are happening during strife or the things that will be amazing after you get through it, will help those things to come true. The power of positive thinking, or whatever you want to call it, has a huge impact on the way things work out IMHO.

    It’s all perspective bud. Hang in there and good luck!

  3. edward blake mendez on April 29, 2013 at 8:39 am

    thank you jeff for your perspective!

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