After the third attempt and failure at starting a business I said, “That’s it. I’m never doing this again! This is clearly for other people.”

I hated it.

But I tried again.


All I knew about business was this: if you do work for someone, you get paid, and then you pay bills.

That’s the entire knowledge I had about running a business. It was very incomplete. But it worked.

In what follows, I am mostly focused on my first business.

How come? Because like most people who start their first business, I had almost zero knowledge of what an entrepreneur was.

I had to figure it out while it happened, I had to survive, and then I had to cash out.

After that first time, you know a lot more. So it gets easier.

I also assume: you need to be profitable.

99% of businesses don’t live off of “VC welfare” (i.e. they don’t have investors who will subsidize their many failures) .

So I had to start a business that was profitable right away.

Which meant I had to provide a service that people paid for. In my case: a business that made websites for the many companies that did not have one in the mid-90s.

entrepreneur mindset

 (one of our first websites we (Reset, inc.) created:


Have a big vision (“every company will need a website”) but know every subtlety in the business (I could program a database, design a graphic, knew how to optimize the website. Knew how to market it, etc).

Keep up with all the small in the industry, but make sure the BIG still holds.


The biggest day for me was when I realized I didn’t have to do everything. I could hire someone to do some of the work.

Then I was able to work 90 hours a week but get 300 hours a week worth of work done.

Thanks Chet for being the first person I hired!


You have to get the job. So you have to promise the world.

Yes, we can get it done in less than two weeks. Yes, we will be on call all the time. Yes, we will solve your personal problems and show up at your charities. Yes, we will put our best designer on the project and our best programmer.

And then we always did more than we promised.

We always had extra features that they didn’t ask for but we knew they would need. We would provide those for free.

Eventually, when you are an agency, all (most) client relationships go bad over time.

But when you overdeliver you instantly crush all competition for a long time. They can’t even think about competition.

Trust me, they will think about your enemies later. It’s not a marriage and even many marriages disintegrate into first boredom and then contempt

But first, overpromise and then over-deliver.


The first 18 months after I started the business, I kept my full-time job.

I HAD to make sure I would pay my bills or I would die. I couldn’t risk that.

So I diversified in many ways to reduce personal risk. When you reduce personal risk, you can focus on what’s important.

What is important? Doing something that you love that will make you more money than your bills.

If this sounds brutish, so what. It’s true.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email