Steven talks about some of the top things he's learned in the past year as an entrepreneur, husband, team leader and simply as a person.
8 THINGS I'VE LEARNED ABOUT BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR
Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.Benjamin Franklin
I have learned a lot this past year as we've worked on growing Lawn Buddy. I feel like it has been a healthy mix of learning from mistakes I've made and learning from advice from others. I believe you can learn from anyone, you just have to remember to stop talking and listen.
Here are some of the biggest lessons I learned this past year:
- God, family, business.
Throughout my life, and especially in this past year, I have found that if I keep these priorities in order, I can truly be successful in anything. When I am rooted in my faith, I can be a better husband. When I have my faith, and am a better husband, I can be a better entrepreneur. So my message is to keep your priorities straight and know in which order they fall.
- The strategic use of entrepreneurial buzz words.
When I first started immersing myself in the startup community, there were several words and sayings that thoroughly confused me. As I started spending more of my time in this community, I realized everyone was using these same words. Really, they're pretty silly — more like the words you use a lot when you're trying to make yourself seem way cooler than you are: Y.O.L.O., rad, lit, etc. So here is a short list of buzz words I've catalogued in 2016-2017.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions.
When we finished the New Venture Competition, I didn't know what steps I needed to take next. Luckily, I had a teacher who pointed me in the right direction. I was so nervous waiting after class just to ask a simple question. But I did, and I realized that growing a business is all about seeking out advice and help from those who have done it. So always ask questions, and never hesitate or feel afraid to ask for help.
- Be willing to change.
Learning how to pivot is a huge part of growing a company. If we would have stayed with our original vision for the company, we would look nothing like we do today. Just because I think the business should operate a certain way does not mean that's how it should be. Your customer will dictate what you should be doing, not you. If we stuck with what I wanted, and not what our customers wanted, we wouldn't even have a business.
- Be open to the hard questions.
I hear it all the time when an entrepreneur is presenting or being asked questions. The person asking will say, "Can I ask you a pointed question?" It's really easy to get defensive and try to protect what you're creating, but my stance is that we should welcome these pointed questions. I would much rather have people ask me the tough questions now than tell me it's great and two years down the road we have this huge problem. I want everyone around me to feel comfortable enough to call me out or ask why we're doing something a certain way.
- Push forward.
You can't put your business in a box. Challenge yourself and your team to see if you can reach seemingly unobtainable milestones or tasks. And always remember, you fail 100 percent of the times you don't try.
- Seek out mentors.
I have found that when I humble myself enough to realize I don't have all the right answers, it is much easier to seek out the help of those who have been there and done it. I have an amazing group of mentors who act like my guardrails. They won't necessarily give me the answers to my problems, but they point me in the right direction to keep us moving forward.
- It's OK to fail.
I'm not saying that you should go out and start something you know will fail, but you should understand you will likely fail in some form along the way. I am also not saying that you should have an exit strategy (see above if you find yourself thinking this way and "push forward”). You can't live a lie thinking that you will be the next Bill Gates. You have to live your life thinking you will be the next you. I live my life to be the next Steven Werner. That’s for Lawn Buddy or simply being the best person and the best husband I can be. I'm also not saying you should live your life in fear, but you need to realize that no matter what happens today, the sun will come up tomorrow and that no one can take away your birthday.