We first released "5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became a CEO" on the Helcim vlog in 2017. We caught up with Helcim CEO Nic Beique to ask if he would still give his former self (and other entrepreneurs) the same advice four years later, or if there's anything he would change.
We've listed Nic's original top 5 tips followed by his updated answers below:
1. Stay in the Garage Longer
What was kind of the norm has changed. There's more flexibility in 2021 when you're starting your business. There's less of an idea of what you need to be, but that being said I met an entrepreneur recently struggling to get approval from regulators because he's all remote. There's no business address, and all his employees are all remote.
Especially when you're dealing with a customer's money, people want to know you're a real business. There's a perception that if there's an address then you're legitimate. So you can stay in the garage, but there's a point at which you need to have a real business address for legitimacy. People still think if you don't have an address you don't have a business.
2. Find a Good Mentor
If you can find a good mentor, great. And still read biographies, but more than that, build a strong network of peers. Other entrepreneurs, and other people in your industry/profession are often your mentors. There isn't necessarily going to be a person there who's done it all or gone before you to give you advice, so you learn from your peers.
3. Hire the Right People "“ Find and Hire Passionate People
Still hire passionate people, but every company is different. Find what really works well for you and your company. Look at the people who seem to do best at your company and that you're really thrilled to have on board. Look for common traits in those people and try to filter by those traits when you're hiring.
Secondly, everybody says they're collaborative, but are they making people around them great? Those people are a 10x multiplier. We're moving away from specialists; we need more generalists. I think startups thrive more with good generalists. There's more usefulness when there's a broader competency. An individual contributor can be the best at what they do but a collaborator can teach others to be the best so the company can grow.
"I think startups thrive more with good generalists."
4. Don't Assume Everyone is Smarter Than You
I would change the title to say "don't assume it's all been done."
You shouldn't think, "oh somebody smarter than me already tried this. It's all been done, there's no room for me." If you think that there's a market and you have a drive to do it better and do it differently then go and do it.
5. An Overnight Success Takes Ten Years
This one is still true. There's always going to be that fail fast mentality, but the problem is that the fail fast mentality also often comes with give up quickly.
"I tried that. Didn't work." Well is it because it didn't work or you because you didn't try to make it work? Perseverance is still the #1 trait of successful people beyond anything else. More than smarts or even timing. The reality is (still) that it takes time to build a business.
"Perseverance is still the #1 trait of successful people beyond anything else."
Check out the original video from the Helcim vlog: