For me it was not becoming a serial entrepreneur. Finding the one thing I was really good at and sticking to it.
The big lesson for me was to ensure I was effective with my time management to avoid procrastination, especially when I had to pick up the phone it was amazing how many excuses got in the way! My advice is similar ro others - get a good coach and make sure you have supportive people around you that are all focussed on the goals you need to achieve. Check out http://dynamicbusinessacademy.com/ for a great place to start
Stop thinking like an Entrepreneur! Think like an Enterprise leader instead.
That's not to say that entrepreneurial thinking isn't necessary, or that it's bad - only that to create an effective system, you must at least think a level above it.
You can't create 1st grade curriculum if you're still in first grade. You have to view it from beyond first grade, in terms of the results it will create later, in order to be effective.
We try to model the great 'titans' who have matured far beyond entrepreneurial thinking, starting with questions like: "Would Richard Branson do this?", or "Would Steve Jobs think like this?"
- They defend their vision and culture to the death
- They're obsessive about the quality and development of the people on the team
- They never use a lack of resources as a reason not to do something
- They move only if they have a game changer
"As goes the head, so goes the body!"
It all starts with how you think.
The greatest lesson I've learned is to train well and than get out of the way. As a passionate business owner its still important to trust your employees and not micro-manage every aspect of your business. I truly got so much out of The 4-Hour Work Week and The E-Myth. Set up systems that check themselves and don't get caught being the technician.
Not necessarily a hard lesson but still useful:
Only work with committed, professional people sharing the same vision. Don't waste time on others.
put it in writing! Don't trust a partners word, always put it in writing!
Find good mentors and those smarter than yourself and LISTEN TO THEM!
The most difficult lesson that one of my clients had to learn was that not every dollar earned was a dollar that he could put into his pocket. Contrary to the "pay yourself first" philosophy expounded by personal finance gurus, an entrepreneur is only entitled to pay him/her self last, after all of the obligatory cuts have been taken and savings have been invested to look after ongoing cash flow and future capex needs. As an entrepreneur, you have to be disciplined enough to do this. If not, then you need someone else trustworthy and knowledgeable enough about the business (e.g. bookkeeper or accountant) to do this on your behalf.
Getting out of a partnership is not always easy. Make sure you have a good buy/sell agreement in place that will allow a partner to exit on the fairest terms possible.
I had to learn that "business owner" is a euphemism for having an infinite workload. There is no such thing as a day off once you become a serious entrepreneur. Sure; you can go on vacation, but I highly doubt that new ideas, business processes, marketing strategies, etc. will take any time off from overloading your brain.
And to be honest, everyone isn't fit for that. An aspiring entrepreneur should truthfully evaluate him (or her) self to determine if they have the stick-to-it-tiveness to build a successful company.