Top 10 tips for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs

July 18, 2007

Becoming your own boss may be an exciting path, and a goal worth striving for, but if you are risking a secure job, you better take some advice from those who’ve done it before. Make no mistake – it will not be an overnight process or an instant path to success.

To help you, we have tapped into our extensive network of people – self-employed practitioners and business founders – and asked them what they think are the key lessons they have learnt along the way.

  1. Have a solid plan and be prepared to not stick to it: rarely do things go as anticipated in a start-up, but if you develop the right attitude, this can work to your advantage. You will encounter unanticipated problems as you go along but also opportunities. Look out for them and stay nimble – that is your one biggest advantage to your larger competitors.

  2. Hire only when you have to and always aim to hire people who are better than you. If you hire an A-class employee, they will to hire another A-class employee in the future, whilst B-class employees will hire people who are inferior to them in their effort to cover their own incapabilities and make themselves shine.
  3. Focus on what you do best and outsource the rest. Do not distract yourself with non-core tasks or projects. Sites like will help you find flexible labour as and when you need it, enabling you to delegate projects without having to hire extra people.  
  4. Hire people who want to get their hands dirty: the type of person who fits in a startup atmosphere is very different to your classic business executive. They need to be hungry and prepared to do the legwork. Make sure you downplay the picture when you interview: you do not want people who are looking for an easy ride or piggy back on your success.
  5. Articulate a simple and concise message. However complex your product or service is, it must be understandable by unsophisticated people. If you can reach the masses, you will always have a stronger chance of success. As Albert Einstein said “it must be as simple as possible, but no simpler”.
  6. Professionalism above all else; take emotion out of the equation, keep your personal life out of it, and remain objective and fair at all times. There is a fine line between showing empathy and sympathy. A good boss must be empathetic but objective and sometimes cold of emotion. 
  7. On Day 1, write the following acronym, stick it on the wall in front of you and leave it there: CIMITYM (Cashflow Is More Important Than Your Mother).
  8. Learn to be wrong fast: did you ever wonder why some of the most successful businessmen are uneducated? Because education teaches you how to be right all throughout. In business, what’s more important is to learn to be wrong and to spot it fast, so you can adapt, change and move on. The agile do better in business.
  9. Focus on scalability: many businesses grow to be profitable but few have the intrinsic scalability to become leading organization. One of the first things you need to do to achieve that is minimize the dependence of the business on you! Systematize the business and implement standardized processes so that it doesn’t need you. In the words of Warren Buffet, “make sure a fool can run the business, because one day a fool will”!
  10. Implement a philosophy of continuous improvement: the Japanese have engrained this so much in their corporate cultures that they have a special word for it: ‘kaizen’. Some of the most advanced and successful organizations like Toyota were largely built on that premise. Make sure you talk to your customers, get feedback, learn from it, and implement leanings where applicable. Do not sit back waiting for big step improvements: the small-small will bring you more results in the end and faster than you think.



One Response to “Top 10 tips for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs”

  1. Excellent advice, every step of the way….add one more aspect, track, monitor and control your compny with a key indicator system, the heart beats of your business and you can know whats happening from wherever you may be…even from your desk!
    Don Todrin,

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