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Top 20 Lessons from a First Time Entrepreneur

How to start your first businessIf you're one of the many young, ambitious businesspeople out there currently sitting in your corporate cubicle and dreaming of starting your first business, there are two ways to gain the wisdom you need to be a successful entrepreneur. We all know the hard way -- jump in, make mistakes, fail, and learn from experience -- and at least some time at the school of hard knocks is almost certainly in your future as a newbie entrepreneur.

But if you want to avoid learning at least a few lessons this way, your other option is to take tips from those that have gone before you -- for example, Derek Andersen, founder of Vaporware Labs. On his blog recently, he rounded up 50 lessons he learned in her first year of self-employment. Here are a few of the best:

  • Getting employee #2 is ten times harder than #3 and #4.
  • Don't write anything in an email you don't want published on a blog.
  • Taking funding is a gift and a curse.
  • Find people older and smarter than you and listen to them as much as possible.
  • Some of the best work is done after the fifth insane day.
  • Silicon Valley is still the place to be for start-ups/ Working in the shadows of Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook (Silicon Valley) is inspiring.
  • Being the last company to leave your office complex at night feels really good.
  • It always takes longer and costs more than you plan.
  • Partnering with friends makes problems more complicated.
  • Work on home run opportunities because it's likely they're only doubles or triples.
  • Save your best ideas for your own products.
  • Money can be a horrible motivator.
  • Make decisions when they need to be made. Not too early or too late.
  • Ideas are the easy part, doing the work is the hard part.
  • Don't buy any office furniture; companies give it away all the time.
  • Don't believe everything other Founders tell you.
  • Getting paid is sometimes harder than getting the job.
  • Your wife/girlfriend [or, ahem, your husband/boyfriend] can make or break your start-up.
  • No one will understand your great ideas until they see it work.
  • Don't make critical decisions on little sleep.
For the remaining tips, check out Andersen's blog post.

(Image of unsuccessful lemonade stand by ninafrazier, CC 2.0)

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