We ventured out to the local business of Ann Arbor, and asked the real-life founders of companies what their advice would be for aspiring entrepreneurs. We learned everything from the highly practical to the highly inspirational. Here’s what four different entrepreneurs had to offer:
On making mistakes
“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way, because mistakes are probably what makes you a better business owner. You never know whether or not you’re going to be successful unless you take that leap of faith and have confidence in yourself. Don’t let the financial side of it steer you away from it, because ultimately it will get easier. It’s a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth the amount of time and effort that goes into it. So stick with it, and make sure that whatever you do, don’t give up too early.”
-Bob Helber, Founder of Continental Capital Realty, Inc. in Ann Arbor.
It’s inevitable that you’ll make mistakes while starting your business–anyone who doesn’t, seriously deserves an award. Ask anyone who has started a business and they’ll tell you that yes, you’ll mess up occasionally. And you’ll learn from it. And the show will go on.
On knowing what you’re doing
You might think that in order to successfully start a business, you need to have an undergrad or graduate degree in business or economics or something “relevant” to business. While this certainly might help, it’s far from necessary. Take Rene Greff, co-founder of Arbor Brewing Co., for instance:
“I was a philosophy major, [my husband] was a political science major, so we had no business experience, we knew nothing about setting up or running a business, and we kind of just did everything by the seat of our pants.”
Arbor Brewing Co. has been a successful brewery in Ann Arbor for almost 20 years now, so not only is there still hope for success, but there’s hope for a lot of success.
On knowing your strengths (and weaknesses)
It’s okay that you don’t know everything. Running a business requires a lot of different skills, and at times it might feel overwhelming. If you’re willing to take the time to learn how to handle accounting, marketing, and legal paperwork on top of everything else, that’s awesome. But if you have the resources to, there is nothing wrong with delegating. Julie Lepper, founder of Julie S. Lepper Accounting & Tax Service, LLC, talks about working with a team:
“You need to know what you’re good at and what you’re not good at, and find the people around you who are good at the things you’re not good at. Be willing to understand that you don’t know everything. If you’re the big-picture person, you need someone who understands detail. And so having a team of people around you is a huge part of it. Understand what part you’re best at, and what part you like and get joy out of, because if you’re doing the pieces you don’t get joy out of, it won’t work for you. “
And Raul Perdomo, founder of Michigan Draft Solutions and current owner of Apples & Oranges, echoes the same sentiment:
“There are certain things that as the owner of a business, I know is not my forte, and it’s worthwhile for me to allow somebody who can do that to help me.”
Starting a company may be daunting, but if it’s something you’re truly passionate about, there are a million ways to make it work. Don’t let the little things keep you from dreaming big!