Although I am young, what you may not know about me is that I have been an entrepreneur for ten years. Looking back, I see that I’ve learned a lot, and, as you already know, I’ve tried to share some of my experiences on this blog.
But what I never talk about are the people who got me to where I am today. Without them, I would not have the entrepreneurial spirit that I have or be nearly as successful as I am today.
These people are the reason I am successful today:
Mom and Dad
You’re thinking I am mentioning my mom and dad because they brought me into this world, right? Partially, yes. Even though that’s the reason I am here physically, they actually did one thing when I was a kid that taught me a lot about business.
Whether I was in elementary school, junior high, or high school, I was never allowed to watch cartoons in the morning. We only had one TV in the house, which my parents constantly tuned to Bloomberg or CNBC.
It’s amazing how much information you can retain over the period of ten years, watching just those two channels. It worked surprisingly well for me. If my experience is any indication of what an ordinary child can retain from watching those channels, I suggest you have your kids tune in too!
In my childhood, my business acumen was molded by my Uncle GM. He still inspires me.
He has invested in real estate, gas stations, laminating companies, retirement homes and a ton of other businesses. I don’t know anyone else who has tried building up more brick and mortar businesses than he did.
I didn’t idolize my uncle because he was rich. I idolized him because he always found unique ways to make things work when his businesses weren’t producing.
The main thing I learned from him is that you have to think outside the box. As a kid, I received encouragement from him to look for creative solutions. He would challenged me with critical thinking questions like:
Four men want to cross a bridge. However, the bridge is weak and they can only cross it two at a time. There is an additional complication: It is nighttime and they cannot cross the bridge in the darkness. Fortunately, they have a single flashlight with them. Clearly, only two men at a time can cross the bridge so one of them will have to return with the flashlight to take the other across and so on. The first man can cross the bridge in 1 minute, the second one in 2 minutes, the third one in 5 minutes and the fourth one in 10 minutes. When two people travel together they can only go as fast as the slowest person. For example, if the person traveling at 1 minute travels with the person traveling at 10 minutes then they will get across in 10 minutes.
What is the shortest time that all of them can get across?
Answer: 17 minutes
One way to increase your odds of success is to learn from other entrepreneurs’ mistakes. Being around Andy has provided me with a blueprint for success.
Andy Liu has been my mentor for over six years, and I can definitely count on him for anything. From business advice to saving money on taxes to having him negotiate a good deal on my condo, he has guided me throughout my life.
The best part about Andy is that he is a straight shooter who just tells it how it is.
Because of him, I am where I am today. When my business partner and I couldn’t find any investors, he stepped up to the plate and offered me $500,000.00 without even fully grasping our business. He just believed in me, and I believe in him.
You probably didn’t know this, but I have a sister. And if you know my sister, the first thing you know is that she is a “stay at home mother.” Although she works from home, she serves as the backbone for each of my businesses.
She controls finances, manages companies, deals with tech support, and even works with accounts…along with lawyers.
If I didn’t have her, I would have to pay someone over $200,000 a year to fill her shoes. She puts in tireless hours and, most importantly, ensures money isn’t wasted.
She has always made sacrifices to ensure my well-being. She was pre-med in college yet switched gears to learn accounting so she could help me and my business partner grow our business.
Although my business partner is a techie these days, he actually taught me much of what I know about business. There was even a point in time when I was the techie and he was the businessman. Imagine that!
Over the years, our roles have flipped, and I am proud to say I received my MBA from the School of Hiten Shah.
We have been working together for ten years, and we can practically read each other’s minds. Hiten deals primarily with managing team members, dealing with investors, and creating awesome products that people want to pay for.
Because of that, I am able to focus on sales and marketing, which are the two things I enjoy doing.
I work so much that I don’t have time to keep up with everything in my life. I haven’t taken a vacation in ten years, and I actually work on Christmas, Thanksgiving, AND New Years.
When you work this many hours a week, you need someone to help organize your life so you can be more productive.
That’s why I hired a nanny. And no, I don’t have kids. Although I call her my nanny (she used to be a full-time nanny before she started working for me), she is technically more of a talented team member than a nanny. For example, she helps run a conference business that I co-own, and she has been able to lock in $50,000.00 worth of contracts in two days for one of my companies. That’s not too shabby!
She is a valuable asset, and for that I am grateful. If you are a busy entrepreneur, I highly recommend you hire a nanny. And don’t just hire any nanny. Hire a smart one like Aleisha who can help you do things like financial forecasting and valuating business deals.
When I first came to Seattle, the first person Andy introduced me to was Geoff Entress. He may not be the biggest name in the tech space, but he is the smartest investor I know.
He taught me everything I know about venture capital and hedge funds. He has even brought me in on a lot of his angel investments.
Through his connections, I have been able to do things like raise a small angel fund for investment opportunities.
Being an entrepreneur is like riding a roller-coaster. Some moments are fun and exciting, while others are scary. Even though you think you know what’s going to happen when you turn the corner, you really don’t.
The one person that has always helped me get into the right mindset so I think positively and maintain focus is AJ Kumar.
At first, I thought he was full of crap, but over the years I began realizing that having the right mindset can have a huge impact on your business. If you aren’t positive and pushing forward as fast as you can, how can you expect your team members to do the same?
I work so much that I don’t have much time to vacation or take part in an extended holiday. Yeah, I party a lot, but most of the time, I party with other business guys and hash out deals at nightclubs. So, even my partying is still about closing deals.
The three guys above - Mike, Jason and Ricky – have taught me how to have fun in life. And when you’re having fun in life, it relieves a lot of stress that you may endure from working those long hours.
If you are an entrepreneur, you have to play as hard as you work, or else you’ll just get burned out.
Although I saved this for last, you are actually the reason I am here today. I have been blogging and speaking at conferences for five years, and you have always supported me.
From signing up for services offered by my company to paying for meals when I didn’t have much cash, you have supported me. Although I am trying to repay you by helping everyone that emails me or asks me for help, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to repay the favor.
See, as much as you are learning from me on Quick Sprout, I am actually learning more from you. The comments and interactions always teach me something new.
So, thank you for supporting me and continually helping me accomplish both my business and personal goals.