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5 important considerations before starting your own business

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“I had no interest in being a businessman whatsoever. I was a craftsman."

Yvon Chouinard might not have wanted to be a businessman, but he’s pretty damn good at it. He started out just trying to make climbing products better and transformed that hobby into the hugely successful Patagonia. It didn’t come without some bumps along the way. Patagonia faced issues with growth and running out of money, but Yvon’s unconventional approach turned things around. From then on, he’s made every decision with the mindset that they’ll still exist 100 years from now. Here are 5 things we can learn from Yvon.


1. Break the rules

As Yvon says, it’s the fun part of business. The whole essence of entrepreneurship is recognizing that something isn’t working the way you like it, so do it better.

2. Grow stronger, not fatter

As Yvon puts it, the faster a business grows the faster it dies. Patagonia was saying yes to every new opportunity and it lead to trouble. From there they had to learn to say no for the sake of long term sustainability.

3. The more you know, the less you need

One day, Yvon decided to limit the number of fly rods he took fishing to one. That year, he caught more fish than he ever had in his life. To achieve something, it’s more about your technique than the amount of fancy tools you have.

4. If you wait for your customer to tell you what they need, you’re too late

From the beginning they were their own customer. Yvon and his employees were already athletes doing every conceivable sport there was, so they knew what they needed to make before customers even knew they wanted it.

5. Ant colonies don’t have bosses

Top-down management takes a whole lot of effort to run. Yvon hires young, independent people and leaves them alone. Everyone knows what their job is and they get their job done. But Yvon does note, this strategy only works if you start with the very first person you hire.

Hear more about how Yvon built the popular clothing & gear brand on NPR’s "How I Built This" podcast with Guy Raz.

Photo Credit: Fortune

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