I love building new businesses. That part of the process is the most beautiful. It’s full of uncertainty and chaos and can also be the toughest part to navigate. This is when I’m in my element, when I excel and test and make mistakes and learn.
The first business you ever start will be the one in which you make the most profound mistakes. These lessons will guide you for the rest of your entrepreneurial journey.
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This is coming straight from my personal experience. After making loads of mistakes in my first business, a digital marketing agency, I took these lessons and started Finder.com, which is now worth about $300 million and has offices in the US, the UK, Australia, Poland and Canada.
The Top Five Biggest Lessons Learnt The Second Time Around
Here are the top five biggest lessons I’ve learnt the second time around.
1. If you loved your first business, you will marry your second
Starting a business is a sacrifice on so many levels. But you’ll never understand the compromise, the sacrifice and the dedication you put into a business until you start your own.
Our first business was incredibly challenging. It was hard. It was gruelling. There was an incredible sense of accomplishment when we sold it and it brought an even greater level of confidence when we started Finder. We’d mastered our craft and were able to enjoy the experience much more the second time around.
This is why you can find a deeper connection to your second business compared to your first. For me, our first business was like a first love. It’s the one you fall hard for, the one you never forget. But the second is the one you marry.
2. Your crew is everything
If you want to create a successful business, you need an incredibly talented crew. It’s the hardest part but it’s also the most crucial part to set your business up for success.
You need to find people who are hungry. People who are self-motivated and show initiative to work things out and get stuff done.
Here are my top three tips for finding the best crew:
Don't hire average people or you will end up with an average company.
Ask more questions.
You can't motivate people. You can only hire motivated people.
3. Create a simple business
If you can't explain your business to someone in less than 60 seconds, it's too complex. Simplify it. Do less. Focus your energy on specialising and earn more.
My business is so simple. We compare products like credit cards, and we built an app (launching soon in the US and the UK) that helps you keep track of your money and alerts you when you can save on your bills and the products you use.
As we grow, there are more moving parts, but we reaffirm our north star, which is to help people improve their lives and empower them to make better decisions every day.
4. Say "no"
The second time around, I've learnt to say “no” to things I don't want instead of grinning and bearing it. It comes with confidence and experience. Play it slow when you are unsure and wait for a better option.
Here’s how to say no without actually saying it:
Price: Make your price high and say that you would agree to do it if you were paid that obscene amount of money.
Refer: Pass the work onto someone else. You would be amazed at how referring things can come back to you in spades.
Say nothing: Don't feel the need to respond to someone who is trying to open a dialogue with you if you know they are going to ask you to do something you don't want to do.
5. Be persistent
In my previous business, my Joker card was that I was persistent. I just stuck it out and kept picking up the phone. The second time around, I'm the same, and I know it's what makes me win.
Making mistakes is key to learning and growing. The best way to succeed is to go live and break things. Figure out how things work and you’ll quickly realise what not to do. By doing this, you will master your craft and become so exceptional that your competitors won’t be able to compete. As I always say to my crew: if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough.
Fred Schebesta is a founder of leading personal finance comparison website Finder.com.