Ivan Epstein, the chairman of the Sage Foundation shares with entrepreneurs the key lessons he has learnt over the years as an entrepreneur. If you are an entrepreneur looking for some guidance, then this will obviously be helpful.

1. Data doesn’t tell you everything

Most successful entrepreneurs trust their gut and instinct as much as they trust formal market research. Creating a new business is about defying the odds and finding opportunities. It’s about heart and courage as much as it is about intellect and analysis.

2. Disputes can arise with business partners

Partnering with other people to build your business may bring about some potential disputes. These you should be ready for. Be sure that your partners complement your strengths and weaknesses and that you are able to turn the challenges in the relationship into a net positive. All conflicts, if well managed, could create great opportunities as well as they could bring so much negativity if not properly handled.

3. The first employee is an important milestone

When your business is a start-up, you’ll find it very hard to attract the right people. Since your budget will be limited, so will your choices of potential employees be too. Great talent usually wants to work for well-known and successful brands.  Don’t make a bad appointment out of desperation – take your time to find the right fit. Remember that you’re not just hiring a techie or a sales rep – you’re laying down the foundation for your future culture.

4. Don’t be seduced by your own PR

Make sure you focus on your business fundamentals and not just your image. As your business takes off, you might get opportunities to attend gala events with established business people. You could also get some PR. That’s all great, but don’t let it go to your head..  And remember, the press can be unpredictable.

5. As your company grows, your control may diminish

The dream of many entrepreneurs is securing venture capital funding, being bought out by a bigger brand, or even listing their businesses on a stock exchange. It’s important to be willing to let your role evolve if you embrace such changes – you may need to be more transparent and flexible as well as delegate aspects of the business to others.

6. Learn how to cut your losses

Learn to act quickly if a division or product line in your business is failing. If it’s beyond redemption, dispose of it as cleanly and rapidly as you can. Don’t let a failing part of your business disrupt your strategic direction.


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