As Chris Johnson, CEO and founder of Terralever, put it, “When you look back on 11 years of running an organization, you tend to remember all the failures, all the things that went wrong and, hopefully, things that you’ve learned from.”
Johnson shared 12 pieces of advice from his own experiences to a full room of entrepreneurs, startups and investors gathered at this month’s lunch and learn series, Free Lunch Friday (FLF), on Friday, May 31.
The theme of Johnson’s presentation was “11 Years of Learning: 12 Lessons and a Few Stories,” and consisted of accounts of his failures, successes and journey through the world of entrepreneurship.
The first piece of advice Johnson offered to aspiring entrepreneurs is “quit your job.” He believes until they quit their current job, they will not have the proper time, focus and drive to do what they need to do to build a successful startup business.
Johnson warned the audience that friends or previous co-workers might not always be people to go into business with. The CEO also stressed the incredible value of creating a limited liability company agreement at the beginning of every partnership to avoid miscommunication down the road.
“I have been burned a lot by friends, not because they are bad people, but because they just don’t understand how business works,” Johnson shared.
The technology community is a very, very small community, according to Johnson. He encouraged entrepreneurs to treat employees, colleagues and customers with respect because chances are, they will be working with them again.
The CEO revealed several other secrets to success, such as looking to the future and not back on the past, communicating until you think you have communicated too much, putting yourself in situations that are outside of your comfort zone and balancing your personal and professional life.
Although Johnson spoke with the confidence of someone who is an expert in all things business, he shared that he still has more learning to do.
“I do feel like, 11 years later, I am smarter and better but I certainly don’t think I have it all figured out,” Johnson said.
Watch his FLF talk HERE on our AZ Tech Beat TV channel.
We will be taking a hiatus for the summer – but we’ll be back in August with our next speaker, Thom Brodeur, Executive VP and Partner at Tallwave talking about “Commercializing Innovation”.
Free Lunch Fridays, a non-profit organization, has one simple goal-to provide community, content, connections and access to capital to the startups and entrepreneurs who fuel the ecosystem. The program runs the last Friday of the month and includes a lecture from a locally- to nationally-known entrepreneur or expert-the location of the event will shift around the Valley each month. The focus is to offer the startup community access to resources, experts, partners and capital. And you get a FREE LUNCH! FLF is sponsored by AZ Tech Beat and SeedSpot.