10 wise entrepreneurship lessons from being an entrepreneur

By Entrepreneurship Scan

My entrepreneurship lessons are based on my own experience as a business owner and scientist on this topic. For me, entrepreneurship is primarily a matter of doing. However, it requires an entrepreneurial mindset. As Cicero put it 106 years before Christ, “Character without knowledge has more often led to success than knowledge without character.” For sure, a man with undoubtedly a lot of knowledge and character.

Entrepreneurship is, therefore, about who you are, and your attitude partly determines the behavior you exhibit. By doing, you learn to fall and stand up, but also to stand out.

Due to damage and sometimes shame, I came to 10 wise (read hard-learned) entrepreneurial lessons in my 25+ years of experience from being a startup founder and an entrepreneur and studying the science behind entrepreneurship. It has become my “business bible” that describes my lessons learned in entrepreneurship. It may sound pedantic at times, but that is really not my intention. I hope it helps your entrepreneurial journey and gets the success you want!

Wise lesson #1: Give before you take

The first of the 10 entrepreneurship lessons is mainly about networking, but also about collaboration. I have visited many networking drinks and held collaborative discussions. So, I spoke to many people. The majority takes first before giving back. Those “takers” first want to know what they can get or take from you. They will only give you back something later if it proved helpful for them. But even then, some didn’t return anything. Whether it is later or never, it isn’t sustainable. Therefore, my lesson is – before you take – to simply ask:

What can I do for you?

When visiting a networking event, simple ask this question.

Again, the “takers” get shocked anyhow. They did not expect your kind gesture. If everyone does that, you will eventually get what you initially wanted.

Wise lesson #2: Do what you can’t let, but don’t let what you can do

Number 2 of my 10 entrepreneurship lessons is about passion, drive, and perseverance. As an entrepreneur, you are really thrown into the deep. You can no longer hide behind your position, or your colleague, or your excuses such as: “this is not my department.” You irrevocably encounter yourself in all your strengths and weaknesses. It can be confronting. Yes, It does.

Therefore, the entrepreneurial lesson I learned is, above all, to be yourself. There is no point in hiding. So, do whatever you really want to do. That one thing that you are passionate about and you can’t live without it for a day. Then it also becomes a lot more fun, even if you earn too little to live by.

Of course, there is always less fun work left to do in your business. For years, I have shoved them on before me, but that didn’t make it easier. Rather the opposite. So what is left for you to do today? Do it. Now!

Do what you can’t let, but don’t let what you can do.

Dr. Martijn Driessen

Wise lesson # 3: First good than fast and then lots

This third lesson of my 10 entrepreneurship lessons is about building a foundation. In short, about planning and organizing. A bitter necessity if you want to make it a real company. Because if you keep making mistakes, you’ll easily get burned out. Of course, mass is money, but without a sound basis – read: proven processes – mass becomes a mess.

Hence, this lesson is actually very simple. Make sure that what you do is right first. Please test it out in small steps and small quantities. If that all works well, you can start to think bigger and faster. But, again, test, test, test. Only after that, you can start focusing on the rest.

Do half of what you do, and do it twice as well.

René Savelberg – former CEO of McDonald’s Netherlands

Wise lesson #4: Think from the other person’s filter, starting with the customer’s

This is the biggest lesson in successful entrepreneurship I learned, however challenging to master. But I’m going to try to teach it to you. It is about market orientation, thinking from the customer, and how the thinking style of a salesperson works. It is primarily about the filter. I do not mean the coffee filter, but the filter every person has. So, your filter and that of your customer. You can view the filter as a pair of glasses that you wear.

Not literally, of course, but a virtual one that allows you to see the world around you every day. Those virtual glasses are the sum of your upbringing, your norms, and values, your character traits, your thinking styles, etc. Actually, everything you have experienced so far. The way you view the world in your unique way, the customer does in his unique way.

So, to sell something to your customer, you need to know their unique glasses. Only then will you actually know whether and how you can meet their needs. How do you do that? Very simple, actually. By asking questions, you find out about his or her glasses. An important detail is to ask open questions. They always start with how, what, who, where, and when.

Another tip: if you are really interested in your customer, it goes effortlessly.

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