A little while ago I read an Inc. article about CEO regrets … what they might have done differently. This is a great way to learn from other people’s experiences, which was the point of this article.
I’m not sure I have any major regrets about how things have worked out for me and for Eagle since we started the company in 1996, but I do like to share my experiences with other entrepreneurs. Other than standard advice you can get from any business book, here are some lessons I can share that I think helped us to get where we are today:
1. Put a stake in the ground with your core values! Decide what culture you want and develop your company with that in mind from day one.
2. Partners are a good thing and so make sure to treat them well. It is a long term relationship, just like a marriage! So, just like a marriage, work at those relationships … treat your partners the way you would want to be treated. I have absolutely no regrets about sharing this journey (and the ownership of Eagle) with my partners, even though I could have owned the company 100% from the outset. Ownership is a lonely road … it is easier with partners!
3. Take time to plan… strategic planning, away from the day to day insanity of running a company. This is critical if you want to be able to view the big picture and not be clouded by the latest daily issues. We established a routine of having these sessions quarterly, and have done that for 17 years now.
4. Network with your peers. I have belonged to a number of “President’s Clubs” and they bring incredible value … in being able to get different perspectives on your challenges, in the support that these people can offer, and in long term friendships that grow from that kind of sharing.
5. Keep your feet on the ground. No matter how much success you have, or how big you get, you are always living close to disaster. There are many cases of BIG companies getting into trouble, and often it is because their management teams lose sight of reality. We can never stop learning, we don’t know it all, we need to be open to change … that means not getting too enamored with our own success!
The last thing I will say is that you only live once, so make the most of your time here … whatever that means to you! YOLO!