3 Things I Know About Entrepreneurship Now (That I Didn’t Know When I Founded Creative Science)

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Starting a new business is always a learning experience.

This is true even if you’ve run other businesses in the past. Before I started Creative Science, I ran several other companies. I was always an entrepreneur, but no two ventures are the same.

Because of that, the learning potential of each is entirely unique. With Creative Science, I learned things I couldn’t have through my other companies. Those lessons, as they always do, have made me a better person and a better founder.

With that in mind, here are a few things I know now, that I didn’t know when I first launched Creative Science.

1. Money is Not Everything

So many founders start out with the goal of making a ton of money. I’ve been there myself. Sooner or later, though, that goal can overtake you, and it starts to blur the lines between what’s essential and what’s not.

While we all want to be financially successful, money is not the end-all-be-all. If you try to make it that way, you’ll get tired quickly.

What’s been unique about Creative Science is that it’s allowed me to spend time thinking about what is genuinely important. Because we work with social good and nonprofit organizations, there are a lot of opportunities to get back to the roots of our mission and stay there.

When I think about the place of money in an organization now, I’m reminded of what Ted Jones, the son of Edward D. Jones Sr., (founder of the financial-services firm) wrote when asked why he wouldn’t take Edward Jones public and become, at that time, one of the wealthiest men in America:

“I am the richest man in America. I have a wife who loves me in spite of my faults. I have four dogs. Two love only me. One loves everybody. One loves no one, but still is very loyal and follows me everywhere I go on the farm. I have a horse I love to ride around the farm, and best of all she comes to me when I call her. I have too much to eat and a dry place to sleep. I enjoy my business. I love my farm and my home. I have a few close friends, and money has never been my God.”

2. Negatives can be (and Often are) Positives

Before I started Creative Science, I was fired from my job. I still remember it — it was a Wednesday afternoon, and I was sitting at my kitchen table when I saw a meeting request pop up on my calendar.

For a few weeks before that day, I had felt there was something off in my relationship with my then-company, and then this meeting popped up. It was with my direct manager and the VP of my company, who I’d only ever said a few words to.

As time passed, though, I realized it was the right thing

We got on a phone call, and they cut right to the chase. They told me my position had been terminated. I tried to negotiate, but they informed me the decision was final. My first reaction was to be angry and beat myself up over it. As time passed, though, I realized it was the right thing. It wasn’t a good fit for the company or myself, and it meant I got to go on to the next thing.

Sometimes, the negatives in life force the self-reflection we might not adopt otherwise. This is a valuable process, as long as you allow yourself to see it as such. Getting fired pushed me off the cliff, but it allowed me to take a step to move my life to where it is now.

3. Managing the Inner Critic is an Essential Tool for Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs live in a world that’s rich in failure. As you grow a company, you’re met with new problems at every turn. Every time you fail, and you overcome it, though, it reinforces the idea that you can do it — that you can figure it out.

If you don’t focus on learning to manage the inner critic (the one that tells you you’re not good enough or that you’re bound to fail), you sell yourself short. It’s all about figuring it out and learning what does and doesn’t work.

I used to compare myself to everyone else. I felt like I was falling behind because I wasn’t on the “30 Under 30 List.”

When I first started my company, I used to compare myself to everyone else. I felt like I was falling behind because I wasn’t on the “30 Under 30 List.” That’s a dangerous trap, though. After all, if you’re not doing it for yourself, you’re doing it for someone else.

In the last few years, I’ve realized you have to embrace the journey — not just the end goal. When you can do that, you grow a stronger company and stress less along the way.

The Ultimate Learning Experience

At the end of the day, running a business is one of the best learning experiences out there. While each of my companies has taught me something valuable, Creative Science’s growth is an excellent (and ongoing) lesson in redefining success, flipping the negatives, and running your own race. These things make us all better founders and better people.

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If you want to connect, you can reach me here via email (nate@creativescience.co), or connect with me on LinkedIn or check out Creative Science.

Entrepreneur blending behavioral economics, data and technology to help changemakers inspire and move people to action. Co-founder @creativesci & member @yec.