By Exec Edge Editorial Staff
Whether you’re developing software, starting a restaurant, or building any business in between, nothing reveals truth like experience. You can plan and strategize, but you can’t replace the experience of grappling with—and solving—real challenges in real-time. Because it’s in the struggle where, whether you know it or not, you’re moving closer to truth.
Having founded and invested in several companies in various industries, Brian Underwood has been in that struggle for his whole career.
After forays into social media, mobile marketing, e-commerce, and advertising, Underwood turned his attention to a new venture: Prüvit, a leader in the biohacking and exogenous ketones space. Since founding the company in 2015, Underwood has overseen Prüvit’s growth from infancy to $1 billion in total sales.
Of course, that growth didn’t come without struggling through a few bumps along the way. As co-founder, CEO, and leader of Prüvit, Underwood lives five truths every day that he has learned on his business journey. And as business owners look ahead to 2021, they’d do well to learn these truths and incorporate them into their own practice.
1. Business is change that you can turn it into progress
Just 10.4% of companies listed on the Fortune 500 in 1955 are still on the list today. The rest have either gone bankrupt or been swallowed up by existing companies. Which is to say: nothing is permanent in business.
Having been involved in the ebb and flow of several companies over the years, Underwood has seen the perpetually changing nature of business up close. He notes that “change is inevitable. And while it’s often uncomfortable, embracing it and adapting is the only way to remain competitive and at the forefront of your industry.” Given this truth, it’s left to entrepreneurs and investors not to eliminate or slow change, which is impossible, but to redirect it to create value for their customers, themselves, and their employees.
2. You’re only as good as your team
“One of the best pieces of advice I received was ‘surround yourself with the best people.’ I took that to heart and I’m proud to say that that’s what we’ve done here at Prüvit.” By their nature, entrepreneurs are often hands-on. They like to figure things out, sometimes going their own way. And while you don’t want to completely stymie that impulse, understanding the truth that you’re only as good as your team is critical if you’re hoping to make a serious impact.
After all, to get your business to stand out in today’s ultra-competitive world requires you to move mountains. And as the old proverb goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
3. Greater success means solving greater problems
At the most fundamental level, a business solves a problem for its customers. Building off this concept, Underwood has found that the success of a business travels in direct proportion to the quality of problems it fixes on a daily basis.
The good news is, there will always be problems. And problems present opportunities. But, as alluded to above, you and your business’s success relies on your ability to choose and spend time on the right problems. As you build your business, keep an eye out for new, bigger, more valuable problems — these will be your greatest opportunities. “Daily ‘challenges’ are the standard for every CEO,” Brian said “but the way that you respond to, and even embrace those challenges, will mean the difference between success and failure, mediocrity and greatness.”
4. There are no days off
Business (and life) is full of tradeoffs. And while business owners get to enjoy the freedom of pursuing their own goals and working for themselves, the tradeoff is that there are no days off. As Brian Underwood has found during a career of building companies, at every level of success, the grind continues at a higher level. “I think that entrepreneurship is often glamourized in the press and on social media. People focus on the end result of the work. What they don’t see is the sweat equity and consistent grind that goes into building a business like this. So every would-be entrepreneur needs to keep their focus on what it’s going to take – and that is persistent time, energy, and effort.”
On top of that, opportunities don’t wait for convenient times to present themselves. So as you attain new levels of success, remember that it doesn’t mean you can or should start to relax. Instead, the opposite should occur because you have to start to grind at a new, higher level.
5. It can be simple, but it will never be easy
There are two big pitfalls many business owners fall into, especially in times of stress. The first is that they look for shortcuts. And while it’s true that you may find paths for your business that appear to be shortcuts, the unfortunate truth is: if it’s valuable, it will take effort, investment and sacrifice. There are no exceptions. “Being a successful business owner means having long-term vision,” says Brian. “What’s the best decision for the future as a whole, not necessarily the here and now. And that takes an immense amount of faith in both yourself, your team and your collective ability to execute on the goals you’ve laid out for yourselves.”
Paradoxically, the second big pitfall many entrepreneurs fall into is overcomplicating things. Particularly in the age of cloud computing and distributed marketplaces, successful businesses can be extremely simple. But simple does not mean easy.
Even simple businesses require effort, investment, and sacrifice.