Before I was 21 years old, I had written my first business plan, and began saving. I did this for two reasons; first, I never liked any boss I ever had. Maybe I was a difficult employee, but working for someone else did not appeal to me. By the time I was 26 I had over 100 employees and 6 retail stores. I realized there was a cap to the income I could make, and sold the stores and moved on. Secondly, working for yourself allows so much freedom, something I spend my life pursuing – freedom of when to work, what flights to take, hours to work, and time with my family.
When I was in my 30’s Ironman was in my blood, and I raced nine times, competing in one a year and staying in “base” shape all year long. This taught me the discipline I needed, and that rolled into my business. I set goals, hit them, and set new ones. Always trying to raise the bar, both physically and mentally. What I can share with you, is that in business, you need to learn to take care of yourself first. When you have a healthy mind and body, you have a healthy business mindset.
At 36 years old, I finally attended college. I had been flipping houses with my husband and I loved watching HGTV, so I went to design school where I got my college degree – in something I loved. I was shocked to learn how much I didn’t know, at the same time, pleasantly surprised how much of what I did know I could use throughout school. My passion for learning was sparked, and since college, I find myself continuing to read books, about one a week. I mostly read business books, sometimes outdoors or wilderness. My point is, continue to read and educate yourself – no one can ever take that knowledge away from you.
When I entered my 40’s our children were in high school, and supporting them and attending their activities was the most important thing I could do with my husband. I cut back on the hours worked, biked with my kids to school, attended every athletic and art event they had. Our family values or our mantra is “family shows up”. There are times in your life, when you have to make hard decisions whether to work or to “show up” for your children. I never regretted attending one event, however, I have always regretted working too long at a desk. Find your balance, and allow yourself time off. As long as your company isn’t suffering, you can always make up the time later.
In turning 50, I find myself running a multi million dollar foundation (my father-in-law took Cisco public in the 1980’s). I have used all my business skills over the years to be a thought partner with projects at the foundation. I have started non-profits, and invested in several start-ups in the non-profit world. I have failed, pivoted, and tried again. I have an entrepreneurial growth mindset and each day I am grateful for the opportunities I have, for the knowledge I have gained, and for the relationships I have made.
My top tips for young startups are:
- Be true to yourself. Never try to be someone else.
- Keep up with technology, apps, etc. or you and your business will get left behind.
- Continuous Improvement. Take constructive criticism as a compliment to improve. People wouldn’t share if they didn’t care.
- Read, read and read some more.
- Set reasonable, achievable goals. If you never achieve your goal, there is a huge negative impact. Outperforming a goal is like a double win.
- Set clear objectives for your company with key results (John Doerr – “Measure What Matters“)
- Honesty is the best policy
- Celebrate the wins.
- Let your values and principles help make your decisions.
Carrie Morgridge serves as the Vice President and Chief Disruptor of The Morgridge Family Foundation. The mission of the Foundation is to invest in transformative gifts for educators and youth. Carrie is the award-winning author of “The Spirit of the Trail: A Journey to Fulfillment Along the Continental Divide“.