99 Lessons Learned as an Internet Entrepreneur

Lesson 1 – you don’t know everything, so keep learning. I started my Internet career when I was 17 in 1998. My father and I started Submitawebsite.com. A lot of you SEO old timers would recognize the name. Over the last 14-years I’ve been a part of some amazing organizations. Some I started – some…

Lesson 1 – you don’t know everything, so keep learning. I started my Internet career when I was 17 in 1998. My father and I started Submitawebsite.com. A lot of you SEO old timers would recognize the name. Over the last 14-years I’ve been a part of some amazing organizations. Some I started – some I didn’t, but there are some commonalities I have picked up on through these experiences. Perhaps you can find some value from the lessons I’ve learned. Often, these lessons were learned the hard way.

Let’s Get It Started

  1. Be a Protege, Get a Mentor.
  2. Be a Mentor, Get a Protege.
  3. Learn Through Osmosis.
  4. Be a Self Starter.
  5. Training,  Management Books, eBooks, Seminars.. Kinda Suck.
  6. You Don’t Always Have to Go to College.
  7. Be a Jack of All Trades, But Also a Master of One.
  8. Shut Up and Listen.
  9. Know These: You’re, Your, To, Two, Too, A Lot, There, Their, They’re.
  10. Ask Questions Even if It Annoys Others.
  11. Excel, Word, and PPT are Not Optional – Own Them, Especially Excel.
  12. Don’t Be a Slouch.
  13. Trust Your Gut, and Act on It.
  14. If You Fail Let It Be Your Fault – Don’t Let Someone Else Fail For You.
  15. Material Matters Most to the Materialistic.
  16. Don’t Be Greedy.
  17. Don’t Take Money from One Profitable Venture to Fund Another – Just Fund the One.
  18. If You Think Someone Is Taking Advantage of You – They Probably Are.
  19. Partner with Friends with Caution.
  20. Cash is King.
  21. Con-Men are Real and They are Everywhere; Be Very Careful.
  22. No One Cares About Your Money More Than You.
  23. Equity is Important (But Only When It Has Tangible or Properly Perceived Value).
  24. Have an Edge, But Don’t Be Cocky.
  25. Don’t Be Shy or Afraid to Share Your Opinion.
  26. Know your Product or Service Better Than Anyone.
  27. Work Smart and Hard, Smart First.
  28. Meet Your New Spouse – Your Business.
  29. Don’t Lose Sight of Who You Are – You Only Live Once.
  30. Go All In On One Business.
  31. If You Copy Other’s Works, You Must Iterate, and Then Iterate Again.
  32. Get Strong Legal and Finance Support and Don’t be Ignorant.
  33. If Doing an M&A Deal Vet Many Opportunities and Take 80% Cash or No Deal.
  34. Don’t Raise Money Unless You Need To.
  35. Usually If Something Seems Too Good to Be True It Is – Don’t Be Foolish.
  36. Don’t Start It If You Aren’t Gonna Finish It.
  37. I like Big Fish Small Pond Mentality.
  38. The 80/20 Rule is Legit – Practice It.
  39. Perception is Reality (Thanks Jeff Herzog).
  40. Be Your Own Worst Critic, But Do That At Home – At Work, Dominate.
  41. If You’re a Showman You Better Be Good – Or Stop It – It’s Tacky.
  42. Sometimes You Can and Should Judge a Book By It’s Cover.
  43. First Impressions Last a Lifetime.
  44. How Is It That The Early Bird Catches the Worm, But The Second Mouse Gets The Cheese? Screw That – Be The Early Bird.
  45. Successful People Aren’t Followers.
  46. ADD Is The Worst and Best Business Tool.
  47. Any Excuse is A Good One If You Need One (So Don’t Make Excuses – and Thanks for The Tip Step-Dad).
  48. For The SEO’s – Don’t Get Banned in Google if At All Possible :)
  49. If You Make A Mistake, Fess Up, and Do Better. And Don’t Dwell on Past Mistakes.
  50. Use LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter for Business. Facebook for Personal.
  51. Don’t Not Get Better (Double Negative Intentional).
  52. Don’t Try and Be Too Smart – No One Likes a Smarty Pants.
  53. Let Others Shine Too.
  54. Don’t Be A Tool, Or “That Guy.”
  55. Look in The Mirror. That Who You Want To Be? If Not, Change.
  56. Work Out and Stretch – Drink Lots of Water.
  57. Bragging Rights are For Chumps – Stay Humble.
  58. People Do Business With People They Like.
  59. People Appreciate a Polished Salesman – Strong Follow-Up is a Sign of Strength.
  60. Write Thank You Notes, Especially After a Face to Face Meeting.
  61. Ask for the Deal. If You Don’t Win, Ask Why You Didn’t Win the Deal.
  62. Take Your Own Advice.
  63. Sell a Solution. Fix a Problem.
  64. Take Your Clients Out For Dinner and Drinks.
  65. Know Your Audience.
  66. Baseline Report And Customize Reporting to Your Audience.
  67. Spend Time Upfront Aligning the Goals.
  68. Package Your Closed Deal Off to Client Services with a Pretty Little Bow and a Cherry on Top.
  69. Speak Your Prospects’ Language, All The Time.
  70. Use Relevant Examples.
  71. Create a Pitch to Blow Off Their Socks; But Only Pitch It To Those That Influence.
  72. Understand Corporate Titles/Structure.
  73. Start at The Top, But Don’t Circumvent.
  74. Favors Are Usually Welcome, But Not Always.
  75. Make it Personal, i.e. Bring a Basket of Apples to the Apple Pitch (Bad Example).
  76. Once a Prospect Buys From You It’s Their Tail on the Line – Don’t Make Them a Fool.
  77. Don’t Be Afraid To Walk Away From a Deal You Can’t or Shouldn’t Handle.
  78. Know Who Your Ideal Prospects Are and Don’t Get Side Tracked.
  79. Small Clients are Often Tougher Than Big Clients.
  80. Sell 1-Month Ahead of Your Capabilities – You’ll be Ready When it Closes.
  81. Empower Employee Accountability – Remove the Barriers, and Set Expectations.
  82. People Want To Be Challenged.
  83. Talk to Everyone in Your Organization Regularly If At All Possible.
  84. Have An All-Hands Meeting Once a Quarter, Once a Month is Even Better.
  85. Instill Confidence in Your Employees.
  86. Stay in the Ditches; Keep Your Hands Dirty.
  87. The Company Has to Run Without You.
  88. Culture Must be Maintained and Evolved.
  89. Snip Out the Cancer (And Do It Now) – Cancer = People Still Employed That Don’t Like You or Your Company.
  90. Share the Vision all The Time – It Maintains Perspective and Fosters Autonomy.
  91. Hire the Absolute Best People You Can And Do Not Compromise.
  92. Surround Yourself With People Smarter Than You In Their Respective Roles.
  93. If You’re Having a Bad Day, Suck It Up – No One Likes a Whiney Leader.
  94. Be a Leader – That’s Not The Same As Be a Manager.
  95. Put a Nest Egg Aside!
  96. If You Make A Chunk of Cash Take a Break and Get Perspective.
  97. Read the Book “In Praise of Slowness.”
  98. Spell-Check and Then Read the Email Again Before Hitting Send.
  99. Read “99 Lessons Learned as an Internet Entrepreneur” From Top to Bottom.

Thanks for reading my list. Have you learned something you can contribute to this list – add to comments?

  • http://twitter.com/iamneek Nik

    Great post, Joe. I agree with #46 – it’s kind of a double edged sword.
    On one hand, that’s where some of the best ideas come from – but when
    focusing on a specific task at hand, it can be detrimental!

  • Arnie Kuenn

    Very comprehensive list Joe. Can’t pick my favorite, heck I can’t pick my top five. I will add one though: Don’t overreact to situations. Too often companies (or groups within a company) let one or two complaints totally change what they do. Instead, take the time to determine how often this situation occurs. If it is less than 1% of the time, fix those specific complaints but don’t change your processes or beat yourself up over it. It sorta of fits with another lesson I have learned, you can’t make EVERYONE happy ALL of the time. (LOL on #48)

    • http://www.iacquire.com/ Joe Griffin

      Awesome Arnie – thanks for the feedback, and great additions. I completely agree. Agencies all too often react to the 1%-5% problems, and that’s a totally bad thing to do. To add to that, your best clients should get all your attention – not your worst clients – again, that’s unfortunately not the reality.

  • Anonymous

    Really nice list Joe, Thanks for a nice Friday read

  • http://twitter.com/uzilala Amy Ouzoonian

    I especially liked # 10. Also, I find that it’s also important to speak up. It’s often times that people want to pretend that the Emperor’s new clothes are so grand and no one is brave enough to point out that there is a problem in the plan. That’s why I say, be respectful when addressing an issue as you see it, but don’t be afraid to speak up and say something if the numbers don’t add up or if there is a bug in the system. In the end, you are helping the company to more closer towards improvement.

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