50 Lessons I’ve Learned as an Entrepreneur

Appsolute Genius founder Brian Cauble on running a small business

Editor's note: Appsolute Genius founder and CEO Brian Cauble recently began posting a daily list on Facebook of five lessons he's learned since launching his Alabama-based mobile-app development studio in 2009. Although the list was intended for friends, family and colleagues, Cauble agreed to let Adweek publish the full list of 50 lessons that have shaped his personal and professional life.

1. Your significant other's support is hugely important. They can hold you up or pull you down.

2. Building a powerful business network is 100 percent essential. Much of your business will come from being known.

3. This job is really, really hard, and you just won't know the answers some days.

4. Being passionate about at least a few things is very important, but you don't have to be passionate about every aspect of running a business.

5. You aren't good at everything, no matter how smart you are.

6. People will help you … if you ask.

7. Partnerships can seem like a good idea, but they take a long time to really pan out, and differences between companies can still cause them to fail.

8. Caring about your business partner and your employees can really help your company.

9. Sales is so important. If you don't figure out your sales, you will fail.

10. Picking a growing, flourishing market is just as important as your product and talent. If your market is good, it improves your margin for error quite a bit.

11. Being an entrepreneur can make you feel bipolar. You will have good days, bad days, good afternoons, bad mornings and vice versa.

12. Building a strong team is critical. A strong team isn't just smart people; it's a group of people who complement each other's strengths and weaknesses.

13. Admitting and understanding your strengths and weaknesses is a must. Take every personality and strengths assessment you can find.

14. You have to learn to balance work, family and taking care of yourself. You will probably let one of them slip a bit, and it will suffer.

15. The best characteristic I've seen for success is pure determination.

16. The second best characteristic I've seen that predicts success is determination to learn and ask questions.

17. You will feel really stupid some days.

18. Each stage of a company's growth will bring different challenges.

19. You will truly understand what "busy" means. And then you will find that there is another level of busy that you didn't think was possible.

20. The purpose of your business, your passion and your support system will carry you through the bad times.

21. The best way to build a strong network is to really get to know a lot of people and help them however you can.

22. You will be burned by at least one person you help. Don't let your temptation to stop helping people take over.

23. You will feel very lonely at certain times because it will feel like no one really gets what you are going through.

24. Your salary will go way down before it goes up. The financial payoff of being an entrepreneur doesn't come for a long time for most (even really smart) people.

25. It is a tough balance to know when to change your strategy or be determined.

26. Generally understanding every area of your business is very important, but you don't have to have your hands on everything.

27. The word payroll takes on a new meaning.

28. Hiring is VERY hard. You will try your best but you will still make mistakes.

29. Firing is also VERY hard, but it is necessary. Once you know in your gut you've made a bad hire, just end it. It will be tempting to keep the person on, but don't do it.

30. Understanding what kinds of customers you can best help (industry, size of company, personality type, etc.) will really help you grow your company. If you haven't learned about niches and segmenting, learn about them now.

31. You will feel like a proud parent certain days, and you won't believe what you've accomplished.

32. Everything takes soooo much longer than you think it will.

33. Starting and running a company will be terrifying at times. That is OK!

34. The amount of mistakes you make will be humbling. However, just don't make catastrophic mistakes that cause you to go out of business.

35. Learn to manage your cash flow. If you don't know what a rolling cash flow forecast is, you'd better learn what it is.

36. Fire really bad customers. You will be worried about losing the revenue, but they aren't worth it. Finish the job you started if you can, but discontinue the relationship as soon as you can.

37. Get a good CRM and use it. Seeing the deals you get and don't get will tell you a lot about your business.

38. Offering a product and offering a service are very different. It will be tempting to do both, but it is difficult, and you should be wary.

39. Be focused on doing one thing great. Every opportunity you look at will dilute your focus.

40. Your business can do different things like not having standard hours or having work-at-home employees. You don't have to do it the same as everyone else.

41. You will truly hate at least one thing about running a business. (For me, that's doing taxes.) Find someone else to do most of this for you.

42. Having a business partner feels a lot like being married. You will spend a ton of time with this person. It better be someone you genuinely care about and trust. But you don't have to like each other all the time.

43. It really helps if you and your business partner are good at different things.

44. You will not be able to be there for all of your family and friends as much as you like, and they will have a hard time understanding.

45. Selling your products and services becomes easier as you show a track record of being successful.

46. Good employees make your life easier. Bad employees make your life harder. There is no middle ground.

47. You will think about your business a lot. You will probably even dream about it.

48. Paying yourself a smaller (but regular paycheck) is better. You can always give yourself bonuses and raises when you have a surplus of money.

49. Having a master plan is important, but the details will change often.

50. It is all so worth it. Even if your business fails, you will be better for it.

—Brian Cauble is co-founder and CEO of Birmingham, Ala.-based mobile app studio Appsolute Genius. Since launching in 2009, his seven-person firm has developed more than 100 apps.

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