Most entrepreneurs will one day create their last business card. They will stop starting and running companies. Before that day comes, here are 10 things every entrepreneur should experience:
1. Start a business. Many people think about it, but fewer actually do it. Quit the day job and jump head first into the deep end. Stop writing the business plan and thinking what could have been. Be willing to risk failure. There is nothing in this world that feels better than overcoming the fear of launching a new business venture. When that first customer buys, it makes it all worthwhile.
2. Sell a business. When someone else pays money for a company that an entrepreneur built, there is a huge sense of pride. Creating something of value for customers is one thing, but when a larger company wants to “buy” what they created, that feeling is in an entirely different league.
3. Take a company public. While this is not for every entrepreneur, the “road show” experience for investors and the first day of public trading is not to be missed. Ringing the bell on the stock exchange will be something that will be remembered forever.
4. Go out of business. While this is not as enjoyable as #1,#2 or #3, it is a valuable experience. Feeling the humility that comes with failure will test any entrepreneur’s resiliency. When any small business owner has been beaten down and comes back, that feeling is the sweetest one of all.
5. Fire an employee. Most entrepreneurs try to avoid doing this because it makes them feel sick. Unfortunately, getting rid of a person that every other employee knows is not pulling their weight will eventually be a big relief and a major boost for the entire organization.
6. Pay back a bank loan. It is easier to borrow money, than to pay it back. When any entrepreneur makes that final payment on a loan, they can look the banker in the eye and simply smile.
7. Work with a partner. This has its own set of challenges, but learning to work with a partner that has complementary skills can be very rewarding. In many cases, 1 + 1 can equal 3. The trick is to find the right partner.
8. Write a book. While most entrepreneurs will never get rich publishing a book, it can be very rewarding. It can solidify what has been accomplished and leave a lasting personal legacy.
9. Go on a vacation (and still make money). This is the test to see if the entrepreneur has built a real business or just created a job. If they can go on vacation and still make money, they have built a company that has real independent value.
10. Pay it forward. Mentor other entrepreneurs with you time or invest in them with your money so they can be successful. This is as sweet as personal success.