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5 Lessons Learned in my 3rd Year as an Entrepreneur

January 3, 2015
Science art at 1871 Chicago

In 2012, I learned that everything takes longer than expected. In 2013, I was frustrated, but learned about communication and web development. 2014 was a success. HappiLabs hit the one goal that all businesses aim for. Revenue! It’s taken a lot of iterations to identify the revenue-generating product, but we figured it out–the Virtual Lab Manager.

I hired one employee and a handful of scientists for microjob positions. I took 10 roundtrips to San Francisco (mostly on Virgin America), spent over $3,000 with AirBnB, became a regular visitor at QB3@953, made good friends in the Perlstein Lab, appeared on the Groks Science Show and Illinois Business This Week, shared office space at TechNexus, 1871, and EnterpriseWorks; and am raising a baby who will not sleep.

Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned over the past 12 months of being a scientist-turned-entrepreneur from Chicago:

1) Twitter was my best sales, marketing, and communication tool.

If you’re starting a new business, get a Twitter account. It’s where I found HappiLabs’ first customer (@eperlste) in 2014, several of our microjobbers, and potential investors. You can follow people to learn from their lives; find and interact with investors, colleagues, partners, customers, and potential customers; and get updates on the latest breaking news.

2) Rejection stings, but it goes away.

One of the hardest parts of being an entrepreneur includes being rejected. Over and over and over. “No. I don’t have time for you.” “No thanks.” “Not interested.” “You want me to pay you for this? Ha!” And so on. It stings, and it is a cause for breaking down and losing faith in your product. But with patience and persistence, enough people said “Yes” that the no’s didn’t affect my mental stability anymore. I became immune.

Charlie Atom and Daddy


3) Having a baby made me a better entrepreneur.

Born on Nov 17, 2013, he made it very easy to focus on what’s important. Now that I have a human being to support, I have a legitimate excuse to say no to people, events, and unnecessary distractions. Say hello to @CharlieAtom.

4) Eat breakfast.

I made it a goal to eat a healthy breakfast regularly. In 2013 and prior, I didn’t and it had always been hard for me to wake up and get in the working zone. So the neuroscientist in me said, “Eat breakfast and your brain will have more nutrients to get going.” Now I always have eggs, fruits (faves = bananas, tangerines), and veggies (faves = olives, avocados, orange peppers) in my kitchen.

5) A ToDo List makes my day waaaay more productive.

Plain and simple, you’ll get more shit done. Read how I created an effective ToDo List.

If you want help or advice about starting your own business or how to be happier, please reach out. Twitter is the easiest place to find me: @letUbeU, or LinkedIn (Tom Ruginis).

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