Failure Is Your Friend: 10 Brutally Honest Advice From A Serial Entrepreneur

May 02 • 9 min

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Failure.

Thats the keyword for success.

If you haven’t failed enough, you haven’t tried.

I’m the CEO of a multi-million dollar business and investor in companies that are worth billions, but I have tried (and failed) many times building a business until I made failure my best friend.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably tasted both the sweet success of a thriving business and the bitter sting of failure more times than you can count.

Over the past two decades, I’ve failed many times. Some of my startup ventures failed and these failures are always painful. Through it all, I’ve learned some hard truths and valuable lessons that will help you avoid making the same mistakes.

Here are 10 pieces of brutally honest advice after two decades of entrepreneurship:

1. Embrace Your Zone of Influence

During my college days, I spent most of my time in the library reading books outside of my course modules. This knowledge quickly turned into a side hustle when other students began asking me to assist with their assignments and theses. Despite being a first-year student, I soon found myself working on theses for postgraduates. It became a lucrative side hustle.

Today, with my two decades of experience and knowledge in entrepreneurship, I am able to consult, advise, and mentor thousands of young entrepreneurs globally.

You are probably sitting on a goldmine of untapped potential, and you don’t even know it. Your Zone of Influence is that sweet spot where your existing knowledge, skills, and network intersect. Take a moment to reflect on what you bring to the table:

  • What do you excel at in your day job?
  • Who do you know in your network that could be valuable connections?
  • Have you ever received praise for a hobby or side project?

Chances are, you possess a wealth of expertise, experience, and connections that others would gladly pay for.

Don’t underestimate the value of what you already have.

2. The Power of Singular Focus

One of the most valuable lessons I learned came from working alongside industry giants like Sir Richard Branson and my mentors including His Serene Highness Prince Albert of Monaco is to always focus on one goal and pursue it relentlessly.

Think of it as aiming for the bullseye rather than shooting arrows blindly.

Richard Branson’s goal was crystal clear: make Virgin a major record label.

Every decision, every strategy was laser-focused on achieving that objective. And guess what? It worked.

The key takeaway here is this: don’t spread yourself thin by chasing multiple goals. Instead, channel all your energy into one big, audacious goal, and watch the magic happen.

3. Product Trumps Every Time

Let me share a little secret with you: the best marketing strategy in the world won’t save a mediocre product.

Believe me, I’ve seen it firsthand.

When I launched my brand Raisini Records, our focus was on events and touring to get people listen to our music during shows. We also tried other strategies from DJ promos, PR, advertising etc.

What we should have done instead is focus on our music and make music that blows the speakers in a stadium. This was our product.

Think about it: would you rather spend your time and resources chasing down new customers or delighting your existing ones?

The answer is clear.

Focus on building a product that solves a real problem and exceeds customer expectations.

Trust me; the rest will follow.

4. Follow the Money Trail

When I was putting on clubbing events in Dubai, I always had to look for sponsors.

So, I started looking at our regular clubbers who loved our events and saw that many of them worked for big brands, including those in the drinks or tobacco industries. These were perfect brands that always sponsored clubbing events and music festivals.

I reached out to them, and it was easy to get them onboard because they knew our brand, had experienced our events, and wanted to be a part of it.

When it comes to finding customers, don’t reinvent the wheel.

Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to attract new leads, look for those who are already opening their wallets elsewhere.

It’s like fishing in a stocked pond rather than casting your line into an empty stream.

5. Balance Your Ambitions with Your Lifestyle

The age-old pursuit of wealth and success.

We’ve all been there, chasing the elusive dream of financial freedom and validation.

But here’s the harsh truth: money alone won’t buy you happiness, and success at the expense of your well-being isn’t worth it.

I’ll admit it; I was once consumed by the relentless pursuit of riches and proving my worth to the world.

But when I finally reached that coveted milestone of millionaire status, I realized that I was no happier than when I started. In fact, I was more stressed and burnt out than ever before.

That’s when it hit me: entrepreneurship isn’t just about building wealth; it’s about designing a life that aligns with your values and priorities.

Don’t fall into the trap of sacrificing your health, relationships, and happiness on the altar of success.

Find a balance that allows you to thrive both personally and professionally.

6. Choose Your Battles Wisely

In the ever-evolving landscape of entrepreneurship, the industry you choose can make or break your success.

Think of it as surfing: you can ride the wave effortlessly if you pick the right one, but you’ll struggle to stay afloat if you’re paddling against the tide.

I have met founders who were hell bent on making their idea a success when their market was getting overly saturated and smaller.

I can only offer advice, but the decision is theirs to make regarding whether to focus on what matters rather than putting excessive effort into a failed idea to make it work.

Choose an industry that’s on the upswing, not one that’s on the decline.

It’s like setting sail with the wind at your back rather than against it.

7. Don’t Burn Bridges

I learned this the hard way in my early days of being an entrepreneur.

Often, when I had a disagreement with someone, I completely severed ties with them. It cost me later when our paths crossed again in the future, and I ended up paying dearly for it.

They no longer wanted to work with me.

When I had my job at Universal Music, I was hosting events on the side, and just a couple of events earned me 50 times more than my pay.

I have mentored young entrepreneurs who quit their jobs and went all in, which is risky because you’re cutting off your main source of income, and 99% of startups fail within the first 3 months.

I often advise those who come to me not to quit, but instead to set aside an hour or two daily for their escape plan. Trust me; it’s doable. Avoid Netflix and TikTok, and instead focus on building your empire.

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your dream business.

Take it slow, build momentum, and before you know it, you’ll be sailing towards success without burning any boats.

8. Selling is the Ultimate Skill

Let’s talk about selling. Whether you’re on a shopping, interviewing for a job, or trying to win over a customer, you’re selling. It’s all about persuasion, baby.

I’m never shy about asking for discounts. I’ve sort of mastered this skill.

There are times when I’m able to get anywhere from 20% to 75% off. All I do is ask.

Everyone is selling, and they’ll do anything to make a sale. I’ve saved millions over the years by asking for discounts on everything I buy. EVERYTHING!

The more you put yourself out there, the better you’ll get.

Asking for what you want is a skill worth mastering.

So, go ahead, give it a shot. You might be surprised at the results.

9. Lead by Example

Leadership isn’t just a title; it’s a mindset.

Whether you’re leading a team of two or two hundred, the principles of effective leadership remain the same: lead by example, communicate openly, and empower others to succeed.

When i started out, i was a solopreneur for many years. I loved learning new skills so i was challenging myself. But when the business grew, i needed help.

I’ll never forget the invaluable lesson I learned when I hired my first intern.

It wasn’t about micromanaging every task or wielding authority; it was about trusting my team, setting clear expectations, and providing the support they needed to excel.

Start small—hire an intern, delegate tasks, and learn to lead with humility and empathy.

Trust me; the ripple effects of effective leadership will be felt throughout your organization.

10. Stay Hungry, Stay Humble

Here’s the thing: every setback, every stumble, every failure taught me something invaluable.

Entrepreneurship isn’t reserved for the elite few; it’s for anyone with the guts to dream, the grit to persevere, and the audacity to keep going.

Success is a journey, not a destination.

No matter how far you’ve come or how much you’ve achieved, never lose sight of the hunger and humility that fueled your journey in the first place.

Celebrate your wins, but never rest on your laurels.

And remember, the true measure of success isn’t just what you accomplish but how you impact the lives of others along the way.

This can be you. It can be Now.

Start small, start now, and watch as your dreams take flight.

You’ve got this!

Now go out there and make it happen. The world is waiting for your brilliance.

If you need advice or a mentor, feel free to reach out and book a call with me.

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