Volume 3, Issue 1 of RISBJ

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If I asked you to think back to your “startup” days, what would be the first thing that comes to mind? A ribbon cutting? The launch of your website? Your first satisfied customer? Your first hire?

For many of us, these are the things we would share with others when asked about our early business days. But chances are, you also remember the hardships of securing financing, the never ending paperwork, the employee training, the challenges of managing cash-flow, and the (very) long hours.

While some find it crazy to travel down the startup path a second, third or even fourth time, we might expect that our established wisdom would have us prepared for the journey. Wouldn’t that be nice? The fact is, every startup carries its own unique set of challenges. No matter how well prepared you think you are, you’re almost certainly not.

Laws and regulations change, as does technology and economic conditions. Securing funding can be just as difficult the second and third times as it was the first, and finding the right employees doesn’t seem to get much easier. So why do we put ourselves through what some might consider a painful process?

As entrepreneurs, we enjoy the challenge. We also enjoy learning – an education that can’t be taught in any traditional school, but comes straight from the school of hard knocks. We take what we learn from one venture, apply it to the next, and make the necessary adjustments. We do this only to find new challenges, which in time we figure out, master, and start all over again.

So as you look to start your first company, grow your existing company, or consider a new venture, keep in mind that learning from each experience and figuring out how to overcome obstacles is the ultimate form of business education. There is no amount of preparation that will prevent us from facing challenges in our business, but learning from our past will help lead us to success.

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