I started my own business more than 15 years ago, and I wish I could have given myself 3 crucial pieces of advice
- Ramit Sethi is an entrepreneur and CEO of I Will Teach You To Be Rich and GrowthLab,
- After 15 years building his businesses, he's narrowed down three pieces of entrepreneurship advice to share with people who ask.
- He wishes he had focused on getting paying clients sooner, on moving up the value chain, and being smarter about choosing his heroes.
I often get people in their 20s and 30s that ask how I would start entrepreneurship if I were to start from scratch again.
Looking back to my 15-plus years of starting and building businesses, I want to share with you three primary things that I would focus on.
The first thing I would do is focus on getting paying clientsAll these young entrepreneurs get sucked into what I call "vanity metrics" - the number of followers or subscribers they have or how many likes they've gotten on a single picture of them doing a hand stand on a mountaintop during a sunset. But in the end, the best Instagram account with hundreds of thousands of followers or the coolest copy in the world matters far less than paying customers when you're trying to grow a business.
Because those things - Instagram followers and likes - don't necessarily mean you are providing value to your market.
The ultimate sign that you are providing value is when someone pulls out their credit card and pays you.
After all, you have to be really good at what you do for people to want to pay you and stick with you.
The second thing I would focus on is to move up the value chain
What I mean by that is, I see a lot of entrepreneurs stunt their growth because they sell products for $19 or charge $30 per hour. While that's amazing in the beginning, eventually you want to keep moving up the value chain to flex your skills and set yourself apart. For example, I started out with an ebook that cost $4.95, which was a BIG DEAL to me at the time.Gradually I moved myself up the value chain 100X with my Earn 1K course. I knew people were getting great results from my course five years after starting my site I Will Teach You To Be Rich. And I was able to do this by:
- Demanding more from students of my courses; and the more I demanded of them, the more they achieved.
- Focusing on the QUALITY of my material. Some of the things that used to keep me up at night - like the visual look of my course - didn't matter as much as I thought.
Of course, moving up the value chain is a slow, gradual, and imperfect process. It took me a lot of baby steps and mistakes.
The third suggestion I would give to beginning entrepreneurs is to choose your heroes carefully
There are internet marketers out there that seemingly brag about how much money they could extract, what type of weird "trip wire" tactic they did, or how they analyzed these shrouded "hacks" in the backend to make 19 cents more out of every transaction. I remember attending a conference where people introduced themselves by saying:
Ick. I felt like I needed to take a shower afterward.
People bragging about how much money they make and how little they work are just not the type of people I want to surround myself with.
The heroes I celebrate are those who have built businesses that last, offer amazing value, and have good ethics - someone like Howard Schultz from Starbucks.I would encourage you to think carefully about the type of people around you:
- Are they pushing you to be better?
- Are they pushing you to serve your customers?
- Do they have good ethics?
Be cognizant of the people you surround yourself with, because those values will rub off on you.
Ramit Sethi is the author of the New York Times bestseller, "I Will Teach You To Be Rich," and writes for more than 1 million readers on his websites, iwillteachyoutoberich.com and GrowthLab.com. His work on personal finance and entrepreneurship have been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Insider.