Six Valuable Business Lessons I Learned in 2016

It’s great to finally sit down and reflect on the business lessons learned from 2016. I believe there’s great value in doing end of the year reviews. It gives you an opportunity to reflect on what went right and what went wrong. It also helps you plan for the year ahead.

2016 was extremely difficult for Happy Joe and the business lessons were harsh. The good news is even though we’ve had to adjust fire, we are still here. I’d like to share what I learned and how things will be different in the future.

Business Lessons 2016

Know your objectives.

It’s essential as leader to know exactly what your objectives are. You have to know your battle plan and execute. This is where I fell short as a leader.

I always knew the mission but I didn’t always know my objectives. It’s difficult to be successful or get people to follow you when you don’t know where you’re going. Huge lesson learned.

Focus on the target.

As an Infantryman, you’re taught to zero in on your target. You learn to pick out and eliminate one target before concentrating on the next. One shot, one kill! Happy Joe broke this discipline.

We lobbed hand grenades at multiple targets and hoped for the best. We made a lot of noise but didn’t hit much. This strategy is ineffective! Moving forward, we’ll set our sites on one target at a time and hit it.

Fratricide is deadly.

Getting fragged by your own team sucks and is demoralizing. You never expect to get hit by friendly fire.

Choosing business partners should be done with extreme caution. It’s hard to find people you can trust to cover your six and who won’t leave you in the battle. My experience is people talk a great game but fail to follow through. If it smells or looks like bullshit, it’s usually bullshit.

Trust your judgment and gut. The wrong people can cost you the war or your life.

Fighting a war on two fronts is impossible.

Happy Joe’s ambition to have a non-profit organization and for-profit business under the same name in the early years of our company wasn’t the best decision. It’s difficult to fight a war on two fronts. Spreading ourselves thin was costly and a mistake.

We’re currently in the process of dissolving the non-profit organization (more on that next) and concentrating our efforts on being a business. Perhaps one day we will achieve the dream of having multiple business verticals like Virgin.

Graciously accept defeat.

Having a great military force and strategy does not guarantee you will win the war. Sometimes you simply get your ass kicked despite the resources at your disposal. It’s in these moments where you must decide to die fighting for a lost cause or graciously accept defeat and live to fight another day.

Yesterday we officially filed the paperwork to dissolve our status as a 501c3 charity with the IRS. I shut down our non-profit operations early last year and then was convinced to reopen. This time it’s for real and for good.

While it would be easy to dwell on the negative, I choose to focus on the positive. Happy Joe helped several hundred Veterans and spouses as a non-profit. We provided training, mentoring, and resources that benefited the military community. It was an amazing opportunity that was made possible by incredible people.

Live to fight another day.

The business lessons I learned in 2016 were valuable. I need to continue to learn and grow as an entrepreneur and CEO. And despite the mistakes made and hardships endured, I’m thankful for each lesson.

Happy Joe will concentrate all of our efforts on becoming a profitable and sustainable company. We will continue to invest in Military Veterans and Military Spouses but do so in new ways. We’ll continue to fight and do everything we can to achieve our objectives. We have eliminated the distractions and ideas that aren’t a fit for who we are.

As always, I appreciate everyone who has helped Happy Joe get to this point. Your support has been amazing! Now it’s time to look forward to 2017 and beyond. The mission continues.

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