Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lee Silber, co-founder of Waves and Wheels Surf Centers.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
The question, "What is your business?" is a key one. Many of us that are creative types don't always think in terms of doing what we love as a business—which is a big problem because if it's not a business, it's a hobby. So, my answer is, "I provide insights and ideas to individuals and organizations to help them do things faster, better, and easier through my books, speeches, and podcast."
Tell us about yourself
They say we either become like our parents or do the exact opposite. My grandfather and father were both entrepreneurs. I saw that and started my first small (emphasis on "small") business at the age of eleven. I refinished mailboxes throughout my neighborhood. Next, I sold slightly damaged office supplies at the swap meet. Next, I opened a surf shop with my brothers, and we turned it into a chain of stores and a line of clothing. Lastly, I started a corporate training company, and that's what I've done since.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest business accomplishment is not what you think. In each business I started, I loved what I did and the freedom being a business owner brought. Even as a kid, I knew a paper route wasn't for me, so I started my mailbox business instead and made over $1,000 over the summer . . . in 1975. I loved making things that were ratty look like new again. Believe it or not, I l-o-v-e office supplies. With the surf shops, my favorite thing was everything—especially giving surf lessons and seeing people stand up on a board for the first time, which led to becoming a trainer—which is my dream job.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I'm different, in a weird way. Not everyone gets it that I like to work into the wee hours of the morning, love problems (because it's an opportunity to solve them), and I am okay with not having a steady paycheck . . . but the possibility to make a lot of money (from time to time). Sometimes it's that oddball person in high school (the outsider) that makes a great entrepreneur.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Don't quit your day job. It seems like a good idea to "Burn the ships" and go all in—sink or swim. I think it's better to do what the founder of Spanx did; she didn't quit her sales job until her company sold one million dollars of goods.
Don't go it alone. I signed up with the Service Core of Retired Executives and kept my (free) advisor for 30 years. We became friends, but he also didn't hold back and told me what I needed to hear, not what I wanted to hear. Plus, he opened doors I would have been banging my head against otherwise.
Bigger isn't always better. The building of a new business seems like the worst of times, but when we look back, we realize it was the best of times. Being a big business instead of a small business doesn't always mean you make more. Sometimes businesses fail BECAUSE they grew too big.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I have a free mini-book for small business owners, and I would love to share it with whoever wants it. http://www.leesilber.com/bonus-freebies