Learning from someone who has been there, done that, is always huge bonus when starting something new. Having professional insight to the ins and outs of starting up can help aspiring entrepreneurs avoid lethal mistakes, and maybe even get a leg up on the competition.
In this Q&A, Founder Institute mentor, Joe Abraham, shares valuable insights from his experience as a serial entrepreneur. His most prudent piece of advice: don't do it for the fame or fortune.
1. Why is it so important for experienced founders to mentor new founders?
a. It's a 2-way learning experience: As much as I thought I'd be teaching a startup founder a thing or two, they taught me a ton more. It is truly a mutually beneficial alliance. I share my insights and experience. They share their fresh ideas, passion and creativity.
b. It re-energizes the entrepreneur in you: Any seasoned entrepreneur would agree that at some point along the way, we need our engines re-fired up. Spending time with the next generation of rockstar entrepreneurs refreshes perspective and re-energizes commitment like nothing else. It's my personal recharging station.
c. It's a responsibility: Truth be told, someone bet on me (and you) at some point early in our entrepreneurial journey. They may have done it on a 5 minute phone call or over 5 months of hands-on mentorship. But they had a game changing impact on us. It's our responsibility to do our best to be that person to the next entrepreneur. Nobody can advise an entrepreneur the way another entrepreneur can. We just have to do it.
2. What are the one or two pieces of advice you tell new founders that you wish you knew when you got started?
First, if you're doing it for fame and fortune. Don't do it. Do it to change your little piece of the world. Find 5 other reasons to launch that have nothing to do with personal income or recognition.
Second, don't go it alone. Cofounder(s), advisors and a business coach are mission critical to success. As smart as you think you are, your mind will play tricks on you and get you to make some pretty dopey decisions along the way. Having the right team surrounding you will ensure you get it as close to right as possible.
Third, know your #entrepreneurial DNA. Discover if Builder, Opportunist, Specialist or Innovator DNA drive you - and what to do about it. Learn more here.
3. What is the hardest lesson you had to learn as an entrepreneur?
Humility. I came into entrepreneurship proud, arrogant and somewhat "uncoachable". It took a while, but I was humbled by people and circumstance. I find myself making better decisions today - and much of it comes down to not thinking I walk on water.
4. What is the best piece of entrepreneurial advice you ever received?
"Stay in the helicopter", said an uber-successful entrepreneur I got to build a company with. Anytime I'd want to get involved in the details, he'd remind me that the CEO's job is to set the vision/direction and let really smart people figure out how to make it a reality.