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9 Lessons Learned as an Entrepreneur

This blog currently appears on the Redondo Beach Patch:

This is my 10th year running my own company, and in the past decade I have certainly had plenty of opportunities to learn a lesson or two. I have failed plenty, and from failure comes enlightenment.

I have compiled nine of the most important lessons I’ve learned in hopes it will bring hope or comfort to other current and future entrepreneurs out there.

  1. It’s OK to increase fees. Most of us are guilty of charging too little when we first take on a client, and then we feel guilty asking our clients to pay more for our services even after years or working well together. Get over this now.
  2. You are an expert. If you make a living doing what you do, you’re an expert. Clients hire you to fill a critical role for their business based on your expertise. Embrace that role and do it better than anyone else.
  3. It’s okay to disagree with a client; in fact, sometimes it’s critical. As an expert (see No. 2 above) you often know best what will or will not work and your expertise and experience can help a client avoid mistakes. Don’t be a yes man or yes woman. Speak up when you disagree or have valuable input. Don’t stop there, give your input and then offer other solutions or ideas. Your client will thank you and respect you.
  4. It’s OK to fire a bad client. Your time and energy should be spent on your best clients. Any client is not a good client. This one I just learned thanks to The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz. I would rather have one great client than 10 bad ones. In the book, the author gives tips to fire them without them even realizing it.
  5. Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, proceed with caution.
  6. Get everything in writing. Contracts, approvals, edits, etc. should always be in writing, signed by all parties. This may get you paid or off the hook in the future. If a client insists on their lawyers reviewing your contracts, lucky you! You just got free legal counsel!
  7. Build your network. You are not an expert at everything, so surround yourself with like-minded professionals who can perform the duties you cannot. Consider trading services with your network for a mutually beneficial relationship.
  8. New business comes from the most unlikely sources. Now that you realize this, be sure to treat everyone as a potential client.
  9. It is not a hobby; it’s a business. Your business should be able to run with or without you. That is the only way it can grow.

Those are my top nine, what say you? What has entrepreneurship taught you? Please share your comments.