Gini Dietrich

Experience: The One Business Regret I Have

By: Gini Dietrich | October 10, 2013 | 

Experience: The One Business Regret I HaveBy Gini Dietrich

Kate Finley and I were having a conversation the other day about owning a business. She asked me if I have any regrets.

I thought for a minute and then told her my biggest regret is not getting more experience before going out on my own…not understanding the business side of the PR business before I ventured out.

Of course, if we know what we’re about to get into when we start businesses, most of us wouldn’t do it. In this case, ignorance is bliss.

I had only eight years of experience when I started Arment Dietrich. I thought I was pretty hot stuff. The two agencies I worked for didn’t lead me to believe anything differently.

But I really had no idea what I was doing. I was very good at my tactical job, but I didn’t yet understand strategy and I certainly had no idea about the business side of things.

The most I’d ever done is budget and forecast for clients. I’d never done it for a business…not even for a profit center.

I’d led teams, but I wasn’t in charge of their destiny.

I did invoicing, but I wasn’t the final say in what time we wrote off and what time we billed. In fact, when I joined my second agency, writing off time was so ingrained in my character from the previous agency, I’m pretty sure I nearly sent the CEO to an early grave when I liberally didn’t charge clients for time worked on their businesses.

Some of those things I would have learned with more experience in an established company that had the resources to allow me to grow. But there are other things you can’t learn until you have some years under your belt. I wish I’d known that when I was the ripe old age of 30.

Regrets of Lack of Experience

If you’re thinking about starting your own business before you have nearly 20 years of experience, following are some things to consider.

  • People. It’s highly likely you’ll manage people before you have even five years of experience. That’s not the issue. What you want to gain experience in is not just managing people and providing their annual reviews, but in becoming a coach and a mentor. I think about people management like I do a football coach. Your job is to not only hire the right people, but to make sure you’re using their strengths in the right positions. Being able to do this only comes with experience. If you can get it on the job, do it.
  • Finances. Many of you, particularly on the agency side, have to forecast and budget for your clients and turn those into your profit center leaders. Find ways to get yourself ingrained in the finances of the agency or the corporation for which you work. Sometimes it’s buddying up to the CFO and asking lots of questions. Other times it’s telling the partner you’d love the opportunity to watch them work, particularly during annual budgeting time (which is right now!).
  • Business development. If you’re on the agency side, many of you will have already participated in new business meetings. On the corporate side, you probably sit in sales meetings. This is a great first step. But, until you bring in a piece of business all on your own, you don’t understand how to sell. If you own a business, you have to know how to sell or you don’t survive. Network, speak at conferences, go to industry events, find ways to meet new people. And don’t be shy about learning about their organizations so you can find a fit. It’s not always fun, but it’s a necessary evil.
  • Resources. When I worked for the ad agency in Chicago, we built a PR department of 20 people and $6 million in billings in two years. It was easy to do because we had the resources we needed to get it done. When you start your own business, you have no money, no software, no expense accounts, no corporate credit cards, no creative department to make your materials gorgeous. You have just you and a small team (or sometimes not even the team) and you have to figure out how to compete with the organizations that have the resources you do not.
  • Cash flow. You will hear over and over again that cash is king. I cannot stress this enough. If you don’t have cash in your business to cover at least three months’ worth of expenses (including payroll), you are doomed. Ideally you’d have six months’ worth. Make that a goal.
  • Strategic relationships. When you run a business, your job becomes more about the strategic relationships and the people you hire than anything else. You no longer do what you set out to do (in my case, communications). You have to find the right accountant, the right attorney, the right banker, the right insurance broker. Those relationships must be nurtured, carefully cultivated, and grown each year. It takes a long time to find the right partners. Take the time to do it right.
  • Benefits. When I started my business, I thought I had to offer the same benefits I had at the large agencies. WRONG! Offering that level of benefits to employees was great for them, but terrible for the business. Learn what you have to have, what is nice to have, and what you can grow in to. There is almost nothing worse than taking away benefits you’ve already offered to stay in business.

My only regret is not getting eight more years of experience before starting my own business. If I had waited to start until now, the things I could have learned on the job would be insurmountable in our success.

Sure, we’ve done it, but I’ve learned on the job, which has sometimes been painful for me, for my team, and for our clients.

There is nothing that replaces experience. Not a degree. Not reading books. Not an advisory board. Nothing.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

  • This is why venture Capitalists often install professional managers to work with the founders who often have none of the experience needed running a business. and the time consumption learning is huge.
    Great tips Gini!

    • Howie Goldfarb It’s really smart to hire a professional manager when you start a business, particularly if you have a great idea that can’t wait for you to get more experience.

  • I’ve often said that I’m the accidental entrepreneur. Starting my business just sort of happened, and I’m still figuring out all those icky things like finance, contracting, and (gulp) cash flow. Like you, I often wish that I had more experience on the operations side before hanging out a shingle, but this process has been rewarding.  
    Business development is one of my favorite things to do, honestly, and the fact that I’ve done higher level sales gives me a bit of an edge.  At least in my own head.

    • jasonkonopinski Oh there are lots of things that happen in your own head that aren’t reality.

  • Great tips Gini and very timely for me personally. I am just starting out and wonder if it is better to focus on contracts or collaborations first to gain that valuable experience. Thanks for the post.

    • LSSocialEngage I could write a whole post on that! In fact…maybe I will.

      • ginidietrich YES please!! (*she says impatiently :)* Thank you 🙂

        • LSSocialEngage ginidietrich I second that “please.”

        • Word Ninja LSSocialEngage ginidietrich I third the “please” and the other “nugget” I would add about managing people is that a LOT hinges on who you hire in the first place. There are some deficits that just can’t be “developed out” of people and it harms everyone to try to keep a chronic non performer on life support. In my opinion.

  • MichaelBowers

    I love this. I just wrote a post recommending people evaluate their skill sets and make sure they have the right experience before launching out on their own.

    • MichaelBowers Cash flow is kind of important. Just a bit.

  • Gert- you are really not sucking lately… keep it up

    • Todd Lyden LOL! I think I’ll take that as a compliment.

      • ginidietrich Todd Lyden PS another book please and NOT the spin sucks book- the world according to gert (a guide to business by an experienced business person) – go

  • The greatest business leaders in the history of the world ALL LEARNED FROM EXPERIENCE – – JUST LIKE YOU.
    Until you do it yourself, you don’t know squat, spit, nada.
    It takes extraordinary determination, commitment, drive, and sheer will to build successful businesses…  Without this, you would never survive the hairball near-death situations encountered along the journey.
    This is a human “what-you’re-made-out-of thing” – not so much a how much you know thing…
    To be extraordinarily successful in businesses, you have to be tempered by fire to withstand the heat brought on by accepting responsibility to lead.
    Most human beings cannot endure the uncertainty and risks associated with building the future for the rest of humanity.
    Nor do they have the confidence and belief it takes to actually pull it off.
    I would never do business with people who have not navigated the rough and treacherous waters called business and successfully conquered her at least a few times.
    Building businesses takes real courage – and I believe is among the most rewarding things a human-being can do with their life – because through it, you can improve lives, and contribute to making a better future for those you serve.
    I can’t think of a better reason to be in business, can you?
    Cheers to you, Gini!

    • Mark_Harai When you put it this way – “Most human beings cannot endure the uncertainty and risks associated with building the future for the rest of humanity” – you scare me!

      • ginidietrich Mark_Harai Most people are so scared by that, they never even imagine, think or attempt such things… But here’s the thing, I just see humans all connected in some way, and no matter how small or big of an impact your business is having, your in many ways touching the whole.  Innovative business are contributing to shaping the future… Your words and vision are impacting hundreds, thousands of people, many who run very powerful companies on the planet… Your skill-set in business is communicating and influencing people (humanity).  I think it’s safe to say that if most people were on the roller coster you’ve been on in business the last several years, it would scare the hell out them! 😮

      • ginidietrich Mark_Harai The regrets you pointed out here (experience) provides the necessary ingredients that ultimately form the concrete in every business foundation.
        It’s a foundation that can be applied to run ANY business profitably.
        If you waited 8 more years to get started, you be just as ignorant as when you started the first time.
        It’s unavoidable, and necessary experiential learning and training.

  • Great points. When we started SYDCON, we did it with Dave working full-time as a web developer at another firm. That firm actually got us started. They do a lot in the community and would lend him out to non-for profits, etc. Well we started building a big client base as a result. We were getting to the point that the income from SYDCON was exceeding the income at his very well paying (great benefits) full-time job. So, we had to decide if we could take the plunge.  Mind you, at that time I was a stay at home mom & we had to kids under 5, mortgage, etc. Well, we decided to do it and banked every penny from the “side-work” and when we had 6+ months  worth of money for expenses we took the leap.  
    5 years later, we are going strong.  But, there are lots of things you mention above that we had no experience with, just like you.  I think many of those things on your list are thing entrepreneurs hate to do and just naturally avoid them until they cant anymore.

    • sydcon_mktg Most entrepreneurs don’t get that kind of experience unless they ask for it or they work for a large corporation. That’s the one thing I regret…not asking for that kind of work to get the experience.

      • ginidietrich sydcon_mktg Agreed! And Dave didnt ask for it either, and regrets it as well.

  • LisaCannon

    Fantastic piece Gini—and relevant to all types of biz.  Especially love the bit about being a good coach and mentor (can you please make that topic for your next book?). 
    Entrepreneurial startups of any type are rarely linear in their development path.  Did Zuckerberg, Brin, or any of those tech gurus have well-rounded experience? Nope. They learned to fly while doing it—as have you! #socent

    • LisaCannon BITE YOUR TONGUE! I am not going to write another book!
      The entrepreneurs you name, however, did bring in professional managers to help them. I wish I had known to do that while I was learning on the job.

      • LisaCannon

        ginidietrich LisaCannon I never suggest, without offering to help. I am a kick a$% interviewer and writer. . .

        • LisaCannon You’re going to talk me into this.

  • Good points indeed and thanks for mentioning the ‘insurance’ person too…….:).
    The challenge is, I don’t see a lot of patience in the incoming work force these days; they expect to have it all right now. Way too many businesses fail because they couldn’t get past their shortcomings in some of those areas you mention. 
    When I started out I had a great mentor for 2 1/2 years and thought I knew it all; I was approached by @LanierUpshaw about that time and came to work for them. Unfortunately, it was every man for himself at LUI and I lost that mentor relationship; I found out quickly how much I didn’t know………it wasn’t devastating, but feel it set me back a few years. Fortunately I was a survivor as I have seen way more people not succeed in this business than make it. 
    Good core business knowledge, especially finance & management are key.

    • bdorman264 The insurance person is totally necessary!

  • Kirk Hazlett

    This is a terrific and oh-so-pertinent commentary, Gini. Thank you for sharing!

  • littlegiantprod

    Unforgettable points especially the people section.  Personal and/or professional development is a forgotten aspect but worth it in the end.  About the read up on the links you mentioned in your post.  Great post and happy you stuck it out ‘cuz you’re my #1 go-to PR site.

    • littlegiantprod I’ve had a rough day and you just made me feel so much better. Thank you!

  • What excellent advice Gini! Agree with everything. I’ll add these:
    1. Cash, cash, cash. Ok, you said it, but you really can’t say it enough.
    2. Understand these concepts: risk/reward, barriers to entry, and competitive advantage. View most ideas through these lenses, and it can help filter out really good ideas from ones that just seem good at the time.
    3. (And you will never find this in a management book.) If you are in retail or something with heavy supplies or inventory, buy the cheapest pickup truck you can before you open your business. My car has been absolutely trashed from moving boxes, furniture, signage, etc. 🙂

    • Adam | Customer Experience YES on #3!

    • Adam | Customer Experience I wonder if cash is important?
      You know, your third one relates to non-retail businesses, too. When we launched Spin Sucks Pro, I thought it had to be perfect. In retrospect, I wish we had launched it on WordPress, tested out a few things, tested pricing, and then made a beautiful site.

  • AlinaKelly

    This is a very accurate assessment of the business challenges of breaking out on your own. Cannot agree more. Three points resonate most for me:
    (1) Not having the big professional team you’re used to when you work corporately. The price of “gorgeous” proposals increases dramatically when you have to pay out of pocket for the creative, and working alone before you have even a small team in place can be pretty lonely.
    (2) Selling + choosing the clients that are the right fit for what you do. The media bistro clip you included is spot on. You have to be able to sell and taking on the wrong kind of work can be devastating in many ways. But it’s hard to turn down work when you really need a cash infusion. Which leads to…
    (3) Cash is king. This is truly the bottom line. When you’re out of cash, things can grind to a halt pretty quickly. Cash is king. REPEAT.
    You may feel some regret for the difficulties you’ve had along the way, but the fact is, you’re succeeding and that’s what counts. And as you say, experience matters. Now you’ve got it.

    • AlinaKelly LOVE the first one. You’re right…it should be in my list. Like we discussed last week, it’s a lot easier to go after bigger clients when you have the resources to throw at meetings and proposals and RFP development. It’s why so many large agencies win that business. The rest of us are doing what we can as nimbly as we can.

  • This: “If we know what we’re about to get into when we start businesses, most of us wouldn’t do it.” So it’s a good think you started when you did! My best life and career experiences have come from the “blissful ignorance” of having no idea how high the hurdles are. (See acting, public speaking, book writing …)
    And under the first bullet, People Management — hell, there’s not a lot of good people management or mentoring going on in the firms anyway. Time is scarce and training is limited — in most professional services firms, not just PR.

    • RobBiesenbach I was really lucky. I learned a ton at FH and they spent a ton of time training me. Very, very lucky.

  • JasKeller1

    When I was first looking for a job, there was the conundrum about experience… agencies wanted to hire entry-level people with experience and I wanted to be hired, but didn’t have the experience… to a graduating college kid, it seemed an impenetrable wall. But the truth was, I just needed to be persistent and piece together my skills through internships and volunteering. 
    While starting a business is far beyond the plight of a college grad, it seems the experience conundrum holds true… it seems impenetrable, but in honesty, it is about piecing those skills together and being persistent right? 
    This vantage point leads me to believe that starting your own business takes planning, experience, and capital… but I wouldn’t say there is some magical mark that you surpass that permits you to succeed. Rather, it seems you need to be willing to take it on the chin when needed, and adapt in a realistic way as things are thrown at you. 
    Perhaps I’m an optimist, but I think that if you have the confidence in your offering and can make a logical argument for your profitability (and then have the capital to get started), eight more years of whatever you are doing still won’t fully train you for the transition, nothing will.

    • JasKeller1 You’re right…nothing prepares you for the trials and tribulations of owning a business, hiring people, making payroll, providing benefits, and understanding the strategic relationships. But there is A LOT more expertise and perspective between eight years and 16 years of experience.

      • JasKeller1

        ginidietrich Oh of course! But with that reasoning, couldn’t you put off owning a business infinitely? Because it seems “not enough experience” can always be an excuse… 
        I guess what I am really wondering is if you now think there is an optimum time before going on your own? 
        Do you think that eight more years of experience would have really helped you prepare for the unknown at an exponential rate? Especially with so much you sort of have to learn on the fly anyways. 
        (Disclosure – my parents started their own business recently and the transition was tough for them, even though they are in their mid-fifties. From that it is just my take (albeit inexperienced take) that the switch from employee to owner is tough no matter how much experience you obtain)

        • JasKeller1 I really do think if I had waited until now, I would have launched – and scaled – much more quickly. I’m a different leader today than I was eight years ago. I understand the finances at a very deep level. I’ve spent time cultivating strategic relationships. I wish I had done that for someone else, learned what I had to learn, and then gone out on my own. As it stands, I have about a $3MM MBA.

  • I have a lot more to say about this fantastic post, but was just reading the HBR article linked and absolutely LOVE this quote:
    ‘Conventional managers rate the person and develop the performance; great managers rate the performance and develop the person’
    That’s all from me for now…I’ll be back!

    • LauraPetrolino It sounds like you’re having a pretty fantastic day. We’ll have to chat!

      • ginidietrich Most definitely yes (on both counts)! 🙂 Expect an email from me when I get home!

  • People skills go an awful long way too. Cash is critical but learning how to find people to do what you can’t or don’t have time to do is huge.
    Can’t count the number of times I have seen businesses implode because of people problems. Some seem to think if they simply offer competitive compensation people will stay, but there is so much more to it.

    • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes We were almost one of those businesses! I had to switch my thinking. Instead of hiring people I like, I treat the hiring process like the NBA draft. I want the very best person in the position, not the person I like the most.

  • ginidietrich

    LisaCannonVT SpinSucks Thanks, Lisa!

  • Agree that things would have looked “different” for you now if you had started with eight more years under your belt, but would they necessarily be “better”? Would Arment or Spin Sucks be what it is? Starting a business is like becoming a parent in lots of ways; yes, you can prepare, you can read, you can babysit other people’s kids, but you have to actually raise kids to be a parent and learn as you go the things you never could have any other way. More important, if, as business people who weren’t as experienced as we could have been before launching, would we be the kind of people we are today without the mistakes and struggles we endured? To RobBiesenbach’s point, maybe not knowing everything helps us step out in ignorance or in faith or both.

    • susancellura

      Word Ninja RobBiesenbach @ginidietrich This makes me think along the lines of having a child. Some people wait and wonder what will be the “perfect time”. but in reality, you can not be fully prepared. All new parents think they are going to fail, but then instinct and love kicks in and you become amazed on a daily basis of how much you growing and creating with your child. “Cash is king” applies here is well.  😉

      • EricPudalov

        susancellura Word Ninja RobBiesenbach Such a fascinating metaphor.  I might never have applied parenthood to running a business, but they have so much in common!

        • susancellura

          EricPudalov Word Ninja RobBiesenbach  Thank you!

    • Word Ninja I am a MUCH better business owner now than I was eight years ago…or even two years ago. I have the advantage of perspective and experience now. Those are two things you can’t learn. You have to earn them. And they are making me better for my team, for our clients, and for the business.

  • ginidietrich

    judy_culp Thanks, Judy!

  • SpinSucks

    susancellura Thanks Susan!

    • susancellura

      SpinSucks My pleasure! 🙂

  • What a great post! I’ve just completed my second year on my own, and it’s still a battle. I came to it with a different perspective: I started my own firm with virtually no agency experience, and desperately needed it. After 20 years of trying for and never landing that agency job, I gave up trying to work for someone else and started my own firm, and now one of my seminars I give is “The Involuntary Entrepreneur,” describing the issues I rant into when launching Quicksilver Edge: Incorporation, licensing, etc.
    When first out of college, I worked in nonprofits because I was self-supporting and couldn’t afford to hold out till that agency job came along. Then, potential employers refused to believe that someone with more than eight years of experience was serious about wanting to be an account executive. Then I progressed to “you’re too overqualified” (read: too old) for this position. When I hit the “you’re too old to understand social media” and “how well do you get along with young people” stage, I quit trying and went out on my own, doing PR for clients the way I wish I our agencies had serviced our account when I was on the corporate side.
    My challenges have been that I don’t have the inside knowledge of the nuts & bolts of agency life, and it’s not something that is taught. It’s assumed that  you know about billing, and tracking hours, and burn reports and all those other things that go into agency life. Me? I’m figuring it out as I go along, but it sucks up more time than I’d like. Gini’s right that cash is king – there’s nothing quite like scraping together enough cash to meet the bills and still pay for a BusinessWire announcement because the client insists they must have it.

    • DebraCaplick In 2011, I had to scrape together money to make payroll literally the night before it was due. THAT was stressful.

  • jennwhinnem

    Loved this Gini. Honest and useful as all heck.

    • jennwhinnem I love the phrase “useful as all heck.”

  • EricPudalov

    LOVE this post, Gini!!  I find that the longer I’m with this organization, the more I’m able to learn about how a business functions and what it needs to survive.  I’m finding out that the people management and strategic relationships are *hugely* important, and those are some of the things that are enabling us to grow.  I really appreciate your advice.

    • EricPudalov Keep learning those things! They’re going to serve you well.

  • Love this ginidietrich and I am sure so many will find it really useful! My regrets would have to be not really having a clear vision for where I wanted to take my business, I found myself, often just grabbing cooling clients and being a bit too reactive when I look back.  Nearly 7 years on, I wish I’d stayed with a company, saved more money, made a clear plan of where I wanted my biz to go and benefitted from maternity leave etc … but then hindsight is always 20/20 🙂 Oh, and I wish I’d taken more office supplies, I’m down to my last post it notes and 2 pens!!! (Yes, 7 years on! LOL!)

  • Hi 🙂 Great post … I think it’s your most detailed on this topic yet. What can I say? You’re so right. I think this is also SUPER great advice for startups of all industries. They have the added layer of incorporating and nurturing investors.
    The hard part is that it seem there is no middle ground. You have to take the plunge eventually and then … that’s it. Make it work. My question to you is this: Given the opportunity to do it over, would you have put your business on hold a year or two in and instead gone back to get more experience?

    • KateFinley The thing that sucks about our industry is NO ONE will invest in a professional services firm. I tried to get financing. It certainly would be easier than bootstrapping. But alas.

      • ginidietrich KateFinley Ultimately I think it works out better in the end if you bootstrap. I think you learn more by starting out lean and making mistakes along the way. That said, learning as much real world business knowledge as you can before you dive in can be beneficial. Cardio and naps help too.

  • Um, yes. This is all so very true – and I’m still figuring it all out. I would say that one of the big differences between you and me is that you had big agency experience and I come from boutique agency / non-profit / government. 
    In reading this, it made me realize that my background in those areas has made me incredibly shrewd with money. I’ve never ever had a large expense account or fancy amenities. I’ve always had to be creative with budgets and make things stretch. So, if I have one thing going for me is that I’ve learned to make the money work – both for me and my clients. 
    Other than that, this list rings true. I really wish I had more finance / business experience. It’s why I thought about getting an MBA at one point. I’m glad I didn’t, but wish I would have gotten more experience in this area instead.

    • lauraclick I thought about it, too. And then I thought about doing the executive program at Northwestern. If only I had more than 24 hours in my day.

  • Great, great insight! It’s a side of the business you don’t get to hear about to often unless you’re in it yourself. Thanks for sharing.

    • Anthony_Rodriguez It’s definitely not all fun and games. One of the things that really bugs me is when people complain about the business owner taking time off or coveting some of the material things they have. Some really have no idea about all the sacrifices you make.

  • MSGiro

    ginidietrich Where do I start? Do you have a month? 😉

  • Gini Dietrich

    Thanks, Kirk!

  • rosyblue

    ginidietrich great.

    • ginidietrich

      rosyblue Ha!

      • rosyblue

        ginidietrich girl, I always learn someone new. 🙂

        • ginidietrich

          rosyblue I’m about to go learn if the Bears can beat the Giants tonight

        • rosyblue

          ginidietrich I think the Bears will beat the Giants.

        • ginidietrich

          rosyblue I hope you’re right!

        • rosyblue

          ginidietrich Giants are 0-5… Bears have a great chance of winning!

        • ginidietrich

          rosyblue Our luck this’d be the one game they win

        • rosyblue

          ginidietrich sssshhh, don’t go there!

  • I truly think my favorite Spin Sucks blogs are when you share the successes and challenges of owning your own agency.  They were a big help when I took a huge swing and a miss earlier this year. 
    Great advice for new or newer owners.

  • This is all great advice! I’m so glad I already knew all of this before I started my business. I am so smart. Borderline genius really. Humble too.
    Or as my Dad likes to say “owning a business is great; you get to work any 80 hours of the week you like.”

    • jonmikelbailey I was just lamenting that I’m already at 60 hours for the week. BUT I get to shut down in an hour and go to the Bears game.

      • ginidietrich jonmikelbailey Why is it when anyone mentions the Bears, I picture a bunch of large men with beards and hairy chests playing football?

      • ginidietrich jonmikelbailey Da Bears!

  • ginidietrich

    AmeenaGorton xoxo

  • franzeseink

    creativeoncall ginidietrich SpinSucks Doh, I used an entrepreneurial backpack! Smacked into the ground somethin’ fierce.

  • EventsResearch

    Excellent points one and all. I was 28. I think you sum it up beautifully with your statement “I’ve learned on the job, which has sometimes been painful for me, for my team, and for our clients.”
    The corollary, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger is not really true – certainly not for your clients, employees and family.

  • Great post, Gini. I love your behind-the-scenes snapshots.
    I wonder if there isn’t some benefit to learning the “hard way,” though. Often we learn bad habits from the environments and people we work for, and figuring things out on your own at least gives you the opportunity to choose solutions from a wider range of options.
    Sometimes unlearning habits and assumptions is just as painful as learning from scratch. Actually, I’ve had experiences where it’s been MORE painful … and a little soul-crushing.
    But then, the grass is always greener on the other side, right?

  • I agree – experience is the only way you’ll grasp the enormity of being responsible for a business. 
    Your last point about benefits – “Learn what you have to have, what is nice to have, and what you can grow in to”
    That is huge across all of the other areas. There will always be things that are nice to have and that you can grow into, but businesses that succeed truly understand the difference between those and the must haves. It’s a vision thing. Not a lot of people connecting nuts and bolts to the big picture. Also did I mention ambiguity? If you start a company you better be ready for that.