What every entrepreneur should know before they start their first business.

This article was originally posted at the website markmanson.net on March 11 2013 by Mark Mason. I am not sure if this article was removed by accident or on purpose and that’s why I am republishing it on my personal blog. I’ve removed any strong language for obvious reasons.

  1. Sell everything. Save money. Don’t misuse the first money you get from your business and blow it up. Use money wisely!
  2. Monetize your free time. Take some of the time you use for socialising and use it to build your business.
  3. Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs. Surround yourself with the type of people you want to become. Make sure your friends are not those who want to sit and do nothing about their lives. Find other people who are in a similar position as you and push and motivate one another.
  4. Quit your day job as soon as is reasonable.
  5. Be shameless. Be pitching your new product to people who didn’t even know it existed. You have to be shameless about this stuff.
  6. Business ideas don’t matter, what matters is execution. A lot of people are proud of themselves for coming up with a cool idea. But the most successful businesses in history were rarely new ideas. Google wasn’t a new idea. Facebook wasn’t a new idea. Microsoft wasn’t a new idea. All of these companies merely executed better than anyone else.
  7. Less reading, more doing. Read about marketing when your new project needs a new marketing strategy. Suddenly, that same reading becomes a lot more interesting. Many people use reading up on what they want to do as a way to avoid actually doing what they want to do. Reading is useless without execution.
  8. Test, test, test. You don’t know anything until you’ve tested it. It does not matter who said it but try it out.
  9. Be eccentric. You can’t stand out unless you’re different. Capitalize on your quirkiness.
  10. Obsess about your brand. The reality of the current economy is that pretty much any information, product or service a person wants, they already have dozens of choices of who to purchase them from. Scarcity doesn’t exist anymore. Differentiation purely through price or quality is an almost impossible strategy for entering or dominating a new market. What dominates now is brand. Your brand defines the relationship you have with your prospect and customer.
  11. Don’t deliver a product, deliver an experience. Steve Jobs said that he wanted Apple products to provide an experience, not just a function. Apple is possibly the strongest brand on the planet right now. This is what I mean when I say obsess about your brand: obsess about the experience you’re giving your customers, not just the information or product you’re giving them.
  12. Believe in what you’re doing. Otherwise, even if you do become successful, you’re just stuck in another grind. But this time, it’s of your own making.
  13. Your business will evolve. Let it. No one gets it right the first time, or the second or the twenty-third. Information is always imperfect. Markets are always changing. What worked last year may not work this year. You don’t stay on top of things unless you’re evolving with them. Don’t marry yourself to your idea or original business plan.
  14. It doesn’t matter what Tim Ferriss thinks. If you’re only working four hours a week, your business is going to be antiquated within a decade and chances are you’re getting bored with your life anyway.
  15. A blog is not a business plan – It’s just not. Don’t start a blog to make money. Start a blog because you love to write. Start a blog to share something you love. But don’t start a blog to make money. No blogger who is making mega-bucks off their content started that way or planned it that way. It just happened. And it took years. Not months, years.
  16. You’re going to need either a lot of time or capital. Or both. There is no such thing as overnight success.
  17. Business is not about making money. It’s about value and values. If you continue to monetize what you personally value, you’ll never tire of working (in fact, you’ll look forward to it). If you optimize the value your business generates, the money will happen as a side-effect. There’s a subtle difference between value and money. Sometimes you must eat a chunk of money to create greater long-term value. If you’re just in it for the bottom line, you’ll never be willing to do this.
  18. Capitalize on luck. You’re going to have good luck and bad luck. We all do. No sense complaining about it or taking credit for it. Instead, hunker down and be sure to capitalise on both
  19. Slow to hire, fast to fire. Especially when outsourcing. Almost every internet entrepreneur has horror stories about outsourcing. Short version: you usually get what you pay for.
  20. Embrace existential stress. When you have a job, your stress is about external approval — deadlines, meetings, presentations — and it usually comes from your boss. It’s annoying and it comes in short, strong bursts. When you work for yourself, you give up having to constantly fight for this external approval. What you trade it in for is this low-level constant gnawing sense that everything is going to collapse and disappear one day. But in a corporate job you don’t have to worry about showing up to work one day and the building not being there anymore. An entrepreneur thinks about this on a weekly basis.
  21. If you’re not pissing some people off, you’re doing it wrong. Dan Kennedy said, “If you haven’t pissed someone off by noon, then you probably aren’t making any money.” “You cannot be an attractive and life-changing presence to some people without being a joke or an embarrassment to others. You simply can’t. You have to be controversial to succeed.”
  22. Did I mention you should be testing? Seriously, half of the stuff that grows your business is impossible to implement if you’re not regularly testing your ideas out in the marketplace. Hell, don’t even START your business until you’ve tested the idea out in the marketplace.
  23. 80/20: Never forget. It really is staggering how much it applies to.
  24. Get 1000 True Fans. The idea is that in the internet age, you only need to convince 1,000 people to give you $100 per year to make a six figure income. When viewed in those terms, it’s far less intimidating. Corollary to this is the 100 True Customers idea, if you’re in the consulting/services world.
  25. As in the corporate world, networking is everything. Yes, it’s still a great way to get new clients and/or job offers. But in the entrepreneur world, it’s even more useful to see what’s working for other people’s businesses and what you may be able to steal and use in yours.
  26. Know thyself. Know when you work best, Do what’s best for you.
  27. The 1000 Day Rule. The 1000 day rule states that you should expect to be WORSE off than you were at your day job for the first 1000 days of your new business.
  28. If it feels like work, you’re doing it wrong. You can either make money to do what you love, or you can do what you love to make money. You choose.
  29. Don’t get rich quick. All of the shortcuts for short-term gains either gut your long-term brand and loyalty, or they just put you back in a position of being chained to something you don’t care about or believe in.
  30. STOP TALKING ABOUT IT AND TEST IT! – I don’t know the answer! And neither do you! So test it and find out!
  31. If you’re not scared to death of abject failure, you’re doing it wrong. In fact, the more something terrifies you the more you will work
  32. Treat your customers like family. They’re the only reason you’re here in the first place. Treat them with respect. Reply to their emails promptly. Answer their questions.
  33. This will be a part of your permanent identity, choose wisely. The idea of, “I’ll do this for a few years, make a bunch of money for a few years, and then go do what I REALLY love!” is a myth. It never works out.