I’ve been an entrepreneur for over 20 years at this point, having started my first company (Spunlogic) as a 21-year old. When Raj and I started Spun, we were babies! (proof)
I tell people that the first five years of building Spunlogic, I was not only figuring out how to run a company, but also how to be an adult! I knew nothing about leadership, business, sales, marketing, <insert just about any word here>, etc, and I often look back at that time wondering… how the heck did we do it?!
Luckily, we had a never-quit mentality and we made our way through. I’d never trade the experiences we had during that time, but I do look back with experience and think, if I only knew these things we would have such an easier time of it!
Things I know now (at 42) that I wish I knew when I was 20
The importance of time
Today, I focus an enormous amount of energy making sure that I’m spending my time on the right things. I wish I had known the importance of time management for a leader when I was younger. Part of the issue was, back then, I had very few things taking me away from working on my business. I could work 12+ hour days, including weekends, because I was young and loved what I was doing. I did not have a family yet and put building my company over pretty much everything else. But even with almost limitless time during the week, if I had been more focused I would have been far more successful, far sooner.
### Pro tip for younger me: Build your Operating System and live by it
Only do the things only you can do
Speaking of time management, one key I’ve learned is to try hard to only do the things that only I can do. At Dragon Army, there are a few things that I can do better than everyone else. To be clear, there aren’t many things like this, as we’ve worked hard to bring in an incredible, talented team. But there are a few things that my experience has allowed me to become really good at, and its imperative that I work hard to spend my time on those things.
One big benefit of this is that it allows my team members to grow, because I’m constantly delegating things to them that I’m not great at. This allows them to build new skills and develop as leaders.
### Pro tip for younger me: Figure out what you’re great at, and try to only do that and learn to delegate
Build people and teams, not companies
This is a BIG one that I did not appreciate until I started Dragon Army. It’s one thing to build a ‘company’, and an entirely different thing to build a cohesive, high-powered team. A team that fights against the 5 dysfunctions, that is built on trust and a higher Purpose, can accomplish incredible things.
At Spunlogic and Engauge (my first two companies) we did not have a defined Purpose. Nor did we have Values that we lived toward. We focused too much on business results and too little on team development and unity. We did hire great people, and tried to be fun, but that is only one step to building a highly functioning team.
At Dragon Army, its the complete opposite. We work harder on the people side of the business than we do on the operational side of the business, and in doing this I’ve experienced faster growth than ever before. Our people truly come first and we live that every day, not just when its convenient.
~ photo by @jhnyc