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By Howard Ecker

Every time you look up, there’s a new startup launching a business, a service or a product and setting up shop in a modern space or a co-working environment.

And a lot of them are talented, smart and bold. They have the world by the tail. But for every success story, there are many more that sputter and fail.

So two questions beg to be asked: What can they learn from an older generation of business people, and are they asking the right questions?

What I see fairly often is a question of mentorship. Who is your mentor? Have they been through it before, are they going through it now and a bit ahead of you, or are they just a friend who wants the best for you, or maybe even someone who is secretly jealous of you? Who’s whispering in your ear?

I’ve spoken with people who have left big spaces like 1871 because they’re bothered by the fact that everyone wants to talk and no one wants to listen. Or if they are listening, they’re merely waiting to talk. They’re not really hearing you, and they’re going to do what they’re going to do no matter what they’re advised, so why waste your time?

There’s so much ego driving decisions with young companies these days versus rational financial planning and well-thought out decisions. Ego is driving the ship, not good business judgment. And with that, unfortunately a lot of important stuff gets missed.

So with that in mind, here are a few things the younger generation of start-ups can learn from the older generation when launching a business:

1.) Hard work isn’t always the solution to the problem. You can work your ass off and still fail. Acknowledge there’s an element of luck involved. You can make some of your luck, but not all of it. And you need a lot of it to be truly successful. And you need to listen and adapt.

2.) You can always get more office space later. Don’t overspend on space you “may” need later. It’s just a hassle (and pressure) you don’t want when you’re starting out. Focus on building and growing your business, and worry about getting more space only when you need it. So much money and time is wasted on unused space, or spaces you can’t use regularly (like the new trend of outdoor terraces and patios, for instance).

3.) Other people have had the problems you’re having. Don’t think that your problems are unique to you. And as a result, seek out those with the best experience at solving the kind of problems you’re dealing with. It’s not rocket science. Every guy getting divorced feels like the only guy who’s ever gotten divorced. We should all remember that. It’s not a big deal. It’s not North Korea with its hand on the button or a doctor telling you you’ve got 90 days. It’s an issue, and you’ve got to deal with it. And the best way is to seek out the advice of someone who’s been down that road before you. Everyone’s dealing with a lot of the same issues, and that’s so important to remember.

Thoughts? Drop me a line anytime to discuss.

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