Profit Minded

Business lessons learned the hard way

Woman upset over a mistakeannoyanceMistakes teach some great lessons. But they are often painful, so it's better to learn from others' mistakes, whenever possible.

Rene Shimada Siegel was nice enough to share some of her hard-earned lessons with me. She started her business, High Tech Connect, 15 years ago after leaving the corporate world so that she could have more flexibility in raising three young children. Her firm matches companies with talented marketing and PR pros and is based in Pleasanton, California.

Her four lessons:

"Trust your instincts. Slimy prospects make even worse customers. Every time I went against my gut and opted for the money, I regretted my decision. Big time.

"Being successful doesn't mean you have to be big. There are some things much more important then giant revenue. Profits. Sanity. Fun. Sleep. Focus on what you do best, and then OWN it.

"Best business decision ever: joining a small business CEO group (called Vistage). Every entrepreneur needs a mentor or peer group to provide honest advice and outside perspective. My monthly meetings with the group have been the single greatest investment I've ever made in myself, and it's worth every penny. (Approx $10K a year.)

"Never, ever create a 50/50 partnership. I started my business with a close friend whom I trusted, but of course things changed and turned ugly over time. Our articles of incorporation did not outline any exit for the partners, thus we endured a long, expensive legal battle until I bought her share of the business. Eighteen months of pure hell."

Here's to preventing costly blunders! For a few more "lessons," check out "Business Owners Reveal Mistakes They're Thankful For."

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