15 Lessons I’ve Learned From 15 Years in Business

By Garrie Harris, CEO of Alpha1 Staffing + Search Firm

Entrepreneurship was not in my plans. I grew up watching my father run a small business, and I was determined to find an easier path. Stress, payroll, managing employees, long hours, trying to navigate industries dominated by the “good ol’ boys club” as a minority, and the complexities that came with that were not worth the trouble. But that isn’t how callings work. No matter how far you travel or how much you try to hide, destiny finds you. You’re constantly being guided, rejected, and uprooted toward the path leading to your purpose. I’m thankful that Alpha1 Staffing is my purpose. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished and, most importantly, the lives we’ve impacted during the past 15 years. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned:

1. It’s not about you.

Neither your successes nor failures are about you. Leadership serves a bigger purpose than yourself. Even your failures serve as lessons (often for others). It’s never just about you.

2. Capitalize on all opportunities to make an impact.

Nothing is too big or small. Leadership is synonymous with impact; never take this for granted.

3. Take care of yourself.

Showing up as your healthiest self (mind, body, and spirit) each day is the best way to maximize your impact. Prioritize self-care, learn to say “no,” delegate, and REST.

4. Failure isn’t forever.

Accept, assess, adjust, and keep going.

5. Done is better than perfect.

The pursuit of perfection prohibits progress. Execute and perfect as you go.

6. Remember why you started.

There will be failures, setbacks, and curveballs, but a strong WHY will keep you going.

7. Hire for your weaknesses.

Hire the best people you can for the expertise you lack. We all have unique gifts; allow someone to share theirs with you and pay them well.

8. Your team is your most valuable resource.

9. Respect money.

Raise it, save it, and spend it wisely.

10. Choose a business that you love.

“Like” and earning potential will not sustain you through the rough patches, and there will be many.

11. Keep the future in mind.

You may cringe at the thought of a five or ten-year plan, but it is critical to your business. Consider both your business goals and the evolution of your industry.

12. Surround yourself with people who understand the vision and know when to cut ties.

Discuss the vision for your company with your business partners, advisors, and staff often. Recognize and give grace to those who no longer share it, wish them well, and set them free.

13. Create a succession plan.

It may feel like you’ll live (and work) forever while the business grows. But legacy is built by passing the baton.

14. Diversify.

Experiment, find new ways to serve current customers, and explore complementary businesses and ventures. Diversification keeps entrepreneurship exciting and protects you from inevitable market shifts.

15. Laugh, and don’t take yourself too seriously.

Entrepreneurship is a fantastic journey – enjoy it!