5 Essential Lessons for Entrepreneurs

1. How to discover God’s mission. Every morning I used to get up, find a quiet place and ask God, sometimes plead with God, to help me, to speak to me. In these conversations, I would become so desperate I would cut deals with God.

“You make my next opportunity clear and get me back to financial stability and I’ll give you half of everything I make after clearing my living expenses.” I know it sounds ridiculous, but that’s where I was.

But God did give me an answer. He brought a former employee into my life who wanted to start a new business. This business, over time, led me to a model of angel investing which I have pursued for the last 23 years. My new mission was “to help experienced managers achieve their dream of starting and owning their own company.”

Seek God when facing a potential change in mission. He has a destiny for you. If you are experiencing discontent, God has an exciting plan for your life. You just have to have faith.

2. Startups are about more than founders. Startups grow, stagnate, or die based in large part on the next set of people who join the company to work, invest, and advise. Just like a good marriage makes for a good family, the early core group of the startup can make for a great company.

And just like a marriage blossoming into a family, building a company is hard. It will take you through better and worse, richer and poorer, sickness and health. But keep it together through all these ups and downs and, in the end, you will succeed.

3. Plan and execute for today’s revenue and not tomorrow’s exit. Entrepreneurs need a simple drive for revenue and profit. Fast! They need to start businesses which are focused on the business principle of profit, sooner rather than later.

If you string enough profitable days together, you’ll have a business worth owning.

If you chose a growth market, you may be able to sell the business for millions. But right now, today, sell something to create revenue and profit.

4. If you are the leader, don’t get too far ahead of those you lead. I have a friend who is a visionary non-profit leader. He is always needing to raise more money because he is constantly extending and broadening his vision. After a few years of this behavior, it began to bother me and, in fact, frustrate me.

I told him, “You can’t allow your vision to outpace your donor base. If you do, you will lose them.” I have learned from observation, great visionary leaders know exactly how far ahead of the group they can get without losing them. This is the art of leadership.

5. If you are the follower, don’t get too far behind. Followers have their own responsibility. When I am a follower, I must make sure I’m keeping pace with the leader. I must continue to pursue him. His vision captured me when I first heard it, and I must stay connected and understand his new, bigger vision. He made me go faster, and I helped him set the right pace.

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