If there’s one topic that gets entrepreneurs going, it’s the difference between those talking-the-talk about entrepreneurship and those who are walking-the-walk.
Rightfully so. The people who have gone years without taking a night off -- let alone a vacation -- in the name of building a successful company, are not amused when “thought leaders” who have barely built anything themselves are giving advice.
They don’t mean it in a bad way; nor do they intend to discourage it--in fact, some of the most successful entrepreneurs make it a point to give back to the community and share what they’ve learned along the way. They just raise their eyebrows a bit, as if saying, “There’s a lot more you need to experience before you can truly call yourself an entrepreneur.”
I recently pulled aside someone consider a genuine expert on entrepreneurship, Andy Frisella. He’s the CEO of a suite of successful health and fitness companies, one of which is 1st Phorm International, a giant brand that has deep roots in the fitness community on social media. He’s also the host of a successful podcast, The MFCEO Project, in which he digs into the tough lessons entrepreneurs need to learn on their journey to building a successful company.
Go back almost two decades, and you’ll find the precursor of 1st Phorm: the brick-and-mortar Supplement Superstore, which Frisella built from the ground up and ran for a number of years.
Here are three lessons Frisella learned while going from one Supplement Superstore location to having a portfolio of companies that rakes in over $100M a year.
1. Get started.
The most common first problem most entrepreneurs face is analysis paralysis, more commonly known as “waiting for the perfect time.” Well, guess what: the perfect time never happens.
Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down. Sometimes you don’t know the answer. Entrepreneurs are professional problem solvers, and you find problems to solve by constantly doing new things.
This is a simple concept to grasp, but not an easy one to execute, especially for aspiring entrepreneurs. Many newbies fall into the trap of planning. They want to have it all figured out, so they can ensure the success of their project before they even start.
Frisella’s story, like that of just about every successful entrepreneur, challenges that mentality. You have to be moving in order to learn and improve.
2. Success is about the journey -- not how rich you get.
“When I was younger, obviously, I had the same idea of success as every other teenager or early 20-something,” said Frisella. “I wanted to be rich. I wanted to have a nice house, to drive a nice car, do all the cool stuff the ‘in crowd’ was doing. I think when you’re young, it’s natural to think that -- and there’s nothing wrong with thinking that.
“But I’m at a point now where I really don’t think that’s success. I think success has transformed for me, where it’s a lot more about fulfillment of potential than any sort of measurable material goal or destination I’m trying to reach.”
The truth is, success really is all about the journey. Potential moves on a sliding scale, and when you’re young, your potential is still somewhat blurred and limited, because you haven’t yet grasped what is possible. But as you start to gain experience, as you make mistakes and learn over time, your potential expands.
You now have a bigger gap to fill. And in the end, you’re never going to fulfill your entire potential because it’s something that’s always expanding.
3. Don’t avoid failure -- embrace it.
The last lesson Frisella brought up is that it’s important not to look at any event as a failure. Instead, view it as a learning experience.
Many other greats, from Bill Gates to Winston Churchill to Thomas Edison, have made similar statements, and hearing the platitude one more time can make a young entrepreneur’s eyes roll.
This lesson is a cliché for a reason, though. If you look at something as just a failure, you’re less likely to learn from it, and less likely to look for opportunities that arise from that door closing.