For a regular guy growing up in the suburbs with no silver spoon to be found anywhere, no trust fund waiting for me to turn to at the right age and no guarantees that life was going to work out, turned out pretty well when I turned a flea market business into a major enterprise.
My entrepreneurial ways can be traced to when I was 17 and decided to go into business with a friend, operating a table at a flea market. But when my friend dropped out of our partnership, I didn’t need to look far to find a new partner. My father was laid off work and decided to join me on the Philadelphia and New Jersey flea market circuit.
A year later we were opening up a hardware store. Through a series of smart moves – some of which took a few failures to learn – that one store eventually turned into a publicly traded company and morphed into a $1.8 billion business owned by the Home Depot.
My humble background is why I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for feisty entrepreneurs. Forty years ago I was there. I was a small business owner who had a great idea that I brought to life.
With that experience here are some tips for entrepreneurs striving to get their business moving in the right direction:
1. Take in all the experiences you can.
Without a solid foundation, anything in life is going to crumble – whether it’s a tree, a building or a small business. Green says that it’s important not to devalue simple jobs because no experience is bad experience. During his life he took on paper routes and worked as a door-to-door salesman, gleaning all the knowledge he could from those seemingly trivial jobs.
2. Learn how to pivot.
We all want to come out of the gates with a smashing idea that sets the world afire. That’s not always the case though. Just like a baby learning to walk, there will be stumbles along the way. Green says the key to one day finding success is to learn how to pivot and adjust when something isn’t working.
3. Find out what you don’t know.
Technology is rapidly changing and today’s trends quickly turn into yesterday’s news. Those who are willing to stay on the cutting edge of their industry and keep up with technological changes will be the ones still standing at the end of the day.
“No one will remember where you started,” says Green. “They’ll only remember where you finish. Your dreams may seem like a fantasy to most people now, but if you combine a great idea with a lot of persistent and consistent hard work, you can get anything you want out of life.”
William S. “Bill” Green, author of Amazon bestseller “All in: 101 Real Life Business Lessons for Emerging Entrepreneurs“, is a serial entrepreneur who has built multiple businesses during his 40-year career. He is best known for “bootstrapping a startup” before anyone even knew what the word startup meant. He propelled his first company, Wilmar Industries, from a flea market table to one of the largest industrial distribution companies in the U.S., now known as Interline Brands which is now owned by The Home Depot.