10 Lessons After 19 Years In Business

Ian Lurie

Today, Portent is 19 years old. It can now legally drink in Canada.

I’ve screwed up a lot of stuff. But we’re still here, so I’ll give myself a small pat on the back. Clearly, we’ve done something right. If I could tell 26-year-old self 10 things to improve Portent’s first 19 years, here’s what I’d say:

  1. Know your craft, and never stop learning it
  2. Don’t check the bank account so often
  3. Don’t fix anything until asked
  4. Learn to lead, right away
  5. Learn the value of saying “you did great” to your team, and yourself
  6. When emotional, take a 10-minute time out
  7. For our generation, business is personal…
  8. …but it suffers if you let it consume your life
  9. As an entrepreneur, it’s OK to geek out at the dinner table
  10. You can never fail if you teach along the way

We’ll see how this list changes next year…

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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  1. Your articles are always great Ian. It is good to hear advice like this from someone who has really been through all the ups and downs over the years. Younger guys tend to have a limited perspective in todays world of build it and sell quick. They tend to thrust into learning quick and not having much time to really hone their skills. Keep up the great insights.

    1. I remember having that limited perspective. When I started, this was how I was going to finance mountain biking and get to make really cool stuff. A year later, I had bigger aspirations and hired my first employee. Later that year, I realized I hadn’t been putting money aside for taxes… And so on.
      It’s part of learning to do this, I guess. I do wish I’d had a mentor back then, though.
      And thanks!

    1. Great question. When I wrote it, I thought, “Wow, could I be more opaque?!”
      It’s a reference to my compulsion to jump in wherever I sense a problem on a project. Doing that hurts the team’s creativity, confidence and ability to work. It’s OK to ask “How’s it going,” but you have to be ready to let your team try – and sometimes fail – on their own.

  2. Thanks Ian,
    I take 10 as I think I’m doing some of that right, judging by the happy “students/clients”. Even though I think I don’t know what I’m doing half the time 🙂
    Year 0 of something is about to happen, I think, after nearly 5 years flying solo.
    Happy adulthood

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