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Lessons I Have Learnt Since Starting A Business

31 March 2021 by Andrew Lynch
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​Andrew Lynch, CEO of Mason Alexander, decided over the course of a few weeks that he would share with his LinkedIn followers some of the lessons he has learnt over the past 8 years of running a company.

As Andrew says, it’s not a guide on how to be successful! It’s just sharing some experiences he has had since starting Mason Alexander 8 years ago. 

Lessons I have Learnt in Business –

1. Networking

Most people, especially when starting out in a new job, network all wrong. 'Help me'; 'do this for me'; 'introduce me' etc etc... but it's not about you!

Focus on becoming really good at what you do and then use that to help people and add value wherever you go; then over time, you will see your network, a powerful one, start to grow.

2. Losing and Making Mistakes

On any business journey, you are going to make a tonne of mistakes and you are going to suffer a lot of losses. There are many setbacks to overcome and you have to keep picking yourself back up again. If you can change your mindset to look at where you went wrong and why you lost, then you can quickly learn from them and move forward. I love this video clip from Sir Alex Ferguson on reacting to defeat.

3.Instant Gratification

We live in a world where people want instant gratification – likes on social media, movies on demand, the ease of buying online…. When starting a business or starting in a new job, you have to be prepared to be patient. Having a short term play to “make a quick buck”, will not lead to longer lasting success. I’ve seen it happen to people so many times. Being an entrepreneur means having to be prepared for delayed gratification. You have to think longer term. There is a great study done on it from Stanford University called the ‘Marshmallow Effect’.

4.Integrity

I have always believed that the only way to operate in business is to do so with integrity. Surround yourself with people who are full of integrity. Your character and reputation is all that you own. If someone doesn’t have it, run a mile.

I love this quote from Warren Buffett “We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity. And if they don't have the latter, the first two will kill you, because if you're going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb”. 

5.  Outside Interests

Have interests outside of work, something I have struggled with down the years. It’s really good for your headspace; you will be more creative and more energetic because of it. I started playing the guitar in 2020 and I actually think it’s helped me a lot over the last year, as funny as that may sound. I’m quite sure there is no direct scientific correlation between playing the guitar and being better at business; the point however is about having hobbies that take your mind off work!

6.Stories

I believe too many companies try and sell by stats or through testimonials. As humans, I think we have grown sceptical of the streams of data rolled out at us or the testimonials that can be so easily obtained, they end up having little to no impact. For me, I have always taken the approach to tell stories. Making things real, about them and about you. Build a partnership and a relationship, not a transaction.

7.Be Yourself

When you look at entrepreneurs it can seem very glamorous; however, starting a company is easy, building one is very hard. The commitment is never ending, always a new challenge, a new problem and so many personal and professional highs and lows that follow you around 24/7. You need lots of luck along the way. You have to keep persevering and keep moving forward. And the only way to do it is by being yourself. Trying to imitate others or being too concerned what other people think, is a recipe for being unhappy. Be yourself, embrace the challengers, learn from them and just give it a right good go!

8.Avoid Industry Whispers

Avoid outside noise and industry whispers, it’s wasted energy that could be spent better on your business. Don’t care for what competitors say about you either, far too many people worry about things they have no control over. You have the real facts in front of you. As long as you are doing your best and being the best person you can be, that’s all that matters.

9.Listening

Listening is probably the most important skill you can develop. I admit to sometimes being a really bad listener, mainly because I have so many ideas running around in my head all the time! However, it’s something I have really tried hard to work on. Being present in meetings or when talking to someone. If you are actually listening to what they say versus thinking about what you are going to say next, you gain so much more from every interaction.

10.  Final Bit of Advice

Starting a business isn’t for everyone. It’s really hard. It’s a long old road and you will face setback after setback. A couple of things that have helped me over the years: 

  • Approach everything with energy and excitement, with a belief that you are creating something special

  • Stick to your principles and be really focused on the long game. Battles will be won and lost, but if you stick to your values, especially in a time of crisis or uncertainty, it will get you through.

Lastly, the pursuit of success or happiness (or whatever it is we are striving for in business) is a never ending goal. Don’t get too distracted by it that you forget to surround yourself with good friends. No matter what's going on in your professional life, if you have a good tribe, you’ll never go wrong.

Thank you!
Andrew Lynch