Recently I had the pleasure of listening to an interview on Mixergy with Hugh Culver, an extremely successful entrepreneur who started his first business at the age of 15 and sold it for $400k five years later. Needless to say, I was intrigued to hear the rest of his story. While listening to this great interview, I couldn’t help but note all the mistakes he made along the way.
As a business owner, you may feel like the world is on your shoulders. At the very least, there’s a problem for which you have yet to find the answer. I found Hugh’s hard-earned business lessons inspiring (and hopefully you will, too.) Let’s take a look at these five lessons.
Lesson #1: A Healthy Dose of Ego is a Good Thing
Early on in the interview, Hugh was asked his opinion getting an inflated ego and offered the best response I’ve ever heard, “I got into business to become a superstar.” This is a great way of looking at it. You and your business are the superstars of the industry. People look to you for the answers, solutions, support – you’re an authority. A hearty ego is the motivator behind becoming an expert in your brand.
Lesson #2: Sometimes You Have to Wing It
I don’t know about you, but I’m the type of person who hates to make mistakes. As a small business owner, it may be tempting to convince yourself that you can’t afford to make mistakes and you end up driving yourself batty trying to be perfect. When Hugh Culver got started in adventure tourism he admitted, “I didn’t know all the details.” This was shocking, especially since he has gone on to make millions from his business. Sometimes you just have to wing it and see what happens.
Lesson #3: Enough is Enough
As a small business owner, you want to do everything you can do make your clients happy. But at what cost? One point that Hugh made in his interview resonates with me, “I got out before I had to get out.” It’s important to know what your “deal breakers” are when working with clients. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out this post from CEM founder Amie Marse. Learn to pinpoint when enough is enough.
Lesson #4: Know Your Worth
Hugh Culver created a successful adventure tourism company offering travelers a unique visit to the South Pole. In the beginning of the interview, he mentions that the first customer he ever had refused to pay for the service unless he doubled the price. While his first customer may have been a saint in disguise, most of our clients don’t beat down our doors begging to pay twice as much. There was a valuable lesson to be learned here – price perception is key.
Lesson #5: It’s Okay to Take a Break
At the age of 20, Hugh sold his first business and took a year off traveling around the world and kayaking. As the result of his sabbatical, he co-created a successful adventure tourism business and lives a fulfilling life. It’s important for small business owners to slow down and take a break. It just might set the stage for your next million dollar idea.
Have you learned a business lesson the hard way? Share your story with us!
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