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48 of 100 Make Mistakes on the Job…on Purpose

My grandfather, who will turn 96 soon, would say, "Make your mistakes while working for others."  He didn't want me doing bad for my employer. He wanted me to know what I was doing when/if I started my own business.

When you start a business, you have a lot stacked against you. Generating a consistent and hopefully growing amount of revenue needs to be a top priority. Learning what the business does for it's customer should not be where you struggle.

Most business owners I meet, and this can be lawyers, accountants and people in all sorts of professions, are experts in their field. In my case, I have been building websites and working Internet projects for over 15 years. Learning my Internet business was not a struggle I had to face when starting mine.

Starting a business assuming you're going to acquire the skills you need to deliver for your clients is a big risk. Depending upon a key employee who is NOT a co-owner is risky too. You lose that employee or that employee decides to break off and go up against you could be a death blow.

I learned my craft back in 1997 when I was hired to head up a website development team. These were the very early days of this field. While working, I self taught myself Microsoft web development. Hardly anyone was an expert then so you were "figuring it out" on the fly.

A few years later, I was hired by an consulting firm that needed the web development skills I had learned. We decided to take on Java and the firm agreed to pay for my training. A few years later, while working at a third firm, I got my Sun Java Programmer and Java Developer certifications. I did all this while billing some healthy numbers for my employer.

This kind of learning and developing of your expertise is not something I want to be taking on as I'm starting a business. You want to have "been there done that" when you are on your own. And that was my grandfather's point. Before he started working as an importer in Cuba back in the 40s and 50s, he worked for an employer in New York. He took the job specifically so he could learn for the business he wanted to start. The employer benefited because he had a good employee. He benefited by learning on someone else's dime what he needed for his own business.

Like I've said before, starting a business is tough. It's one of the toughest things I've done in my life. Stack the deck in your favor so you maximize your chances for success.