Volume 111: 25 Lessons from 25 Years, Part One

June 1, 1996 is date that Oberg and Associates “officially” opened its doors as a company. Next Tuesday, June 1, 2021, Oberg and Associates, LLC will turn 25 Years Old, and quite a lot has changed from those early days.

As most of you know, I’m not an overly sentimental person, but it’s hard not to take a moment and acknowledge the milestone.

We’ve gone from a Sole-Proprietorship to an LLC, I’ve had many different associates work with me here, and I’ve learned something new from each and every one of them. The company has grown and entered new industries, with an eye on replicating that success. The company has provided my family the security and support needed to watch my children grow up and find their own jobs and paths.

The revenue has grown, and the challenges with it. But I wouldn’t take any of it back.

Beyond just a sentimental piece about being in business for 25 years, I wanted to make this newsletter useful, too. So, this will serve as the beginning of a list of 25 lessons I’ve learned in 25 years running my own company. Some of you will undoubtedly be able to relate and confirm some of the lessons, and I hope others might glean something useful from my experience.

In no particular order, let’s get started:

#25: Keep It Simple, Stupid

I am a fairly simple person, overall, in that I like simplicity. But, even I have had times when I was faced with a challenge and forgot Occam’s Razor.

Intricate systems and reporting are incredibly valuable at times, but often, the simplest answer is the correct one. So, remember what is probably not a work-appropriate acronym in 2021, but: KISS, or “Keep it Simple, Stupid”.

#24: Take the Team for Ice Cream Once in a While

Your team is working hard, (and if they’re not, they won’t be your team very long), so it’s a good idea to recognize that in simple ways from time to time. I’ll pull everyone out of their offices and take them down the street for some ice cream. Sometimes we bring donuts or cookies in. (It doesn’t have to be sweet, and I’m not really a sweets guy, but it’s about the team.)

Take a short break and enjoy each other’s company.

#23: Aim Small, Miss Small

The best way to fail to hit a goal is to not have a specific, actionable plan. If your plan is to just get “more” or “less”, you’re setting yourself up for failure, because those words are unhelpful in deciding what you actually need to accomplish. Is 0.001 more enough? Or is there a certain number or percentage more you need to shoot for?

Be as precise as possible with your planning, and you’re giving yourself the best chance to succeed. The more precise you set your target, the more likely you are to land close to it, or, put another way:

Aim Small, Miss Small.

#22: Go with Your Gut

There are plenty of times when the data tells you not to work with a certain client or customer, but something tells you otherwise. While it doesn’t always work out, and my Director of Operations will always tell me “I told you so” when it doesn’t, sometimes you just have to go with your gut.

Metrics and data are immensely important, but there’s a reason humanity has developed the intuition that tells  you that a certain situation is good or bad. Don’t fight that.

Listen to your gut sometimes.

#21: You Can Have Anything You Want, But You Can’t Have Everything You Want

This is something I’ve told my kids for years. In life, all doors are open to you if you are willing to put in the time and effort to get there. You can have anything you want. But you can’t have everything. There’s always a trade-off.

You want to earn enough money to support your family and make sure they can drive whatever cars they want, go to whatever schools they want, and otherwise give them the best lives possible? Well, you’re probably going to miss the occasional soccer practice. You want to move to paradise and live on an island somewhere? Go for it! But that gallon of milk is going to cost $6 and expire in 3 days.

Decide what you want, because you can attain anything you want, just not everything.

I think that’s as good a place as any to stop this article, but I look forward to sharing more of my Top 25 Lessons from 25 Years in Business in the next Volume in three weeks. Until then…

Stay Strong!

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