The Young Entrepreneur Council, Proud Media Partner of CEO GOLF:
Raad Ahmed is the Founder and CEO of LawTrades, a platform that connects businesses to world-class attorneys and a smart project management system.
Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
Roman emperor and stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius, who was at one point the most powerful man on earth. Every day he sat down to write himself personal notes on restraint, compassion and humility. This eventually became known as Meditations. I highly encourage any entrepreneur to check it out.
What’s the single best piece of business advice (unorthodox tips welcome!) that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Minimize your cognitive load by eliminating distracting things that don’t really matter.
To do that, you need to create routines. As you become successful at your craft, you realize that time is the most precious commodity. Creating a routine does one very powerful thing: it reducestime from other activities in life so you can focus on what you do best.
An example is Mark Zuckerberg wearing the same thing every day. As he explained in his first public question and answer session in 2014: “I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community.”
In a similar way, I choose to eat the same thing every day (except weekends). It eliminates time spent thinking about what to eat for lunch every day. This year, I’ve taken it one step further by signing up for a meal delivery service (Factor 75) that delivers healthy meals to my office every week, so no more grocery shopping or cooking at home. Even better, the meals cost less than eating out, so I’ve reduced my personal burn rate as well.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
As Nobel Prize Winner Frank Wilczek said, “If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not working on hard enough problems. And that’s a big mistake.”
Our mistake while building LawTrades was falling in love with the company before falling in love with our customers. Sometimes we get so focused on the product that we neglect the most important part of our business: our core customers. A product or service is nothing if there is no one there to buy it. When we made this shift, we started to grow like crazy.
Here’s what we learned that worked:
1. Don’t think about the product features.
2. Figure out what our customers want/need.
3. Do anything to satisfy those pain points.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I practice mindfulness for 10-15 minutes before I check a single email or notification on my phone.
Meditation helps your mind focus on one singular thing like your breath or your heartbeat. The point is, if you can sit there in complete silence and focus on something like your breath, it will be much easier for you to focus on your work despite all the distractions happening around you. Apps like Calm and Headspace can help you get started.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Keep your personal burn rate low.
The more you have to think about bills, the harder it will be for you to focus on your goals. Living a frugal life in the early days will present you with greater opportunities.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Master the art of properly responding to failure.
While running your business, it’s very likely that you will run into some pretty distressing events, and at other times it’ll seem like everything is running exactly as it should be with very few discomforts. But the more worthwhile a life goal is, the more sacrifice and inconvenience will be required of you. To achieve greatness, you need to reprogram your brain to respond to failure.
When something goes wrong, don’t react to the world. You may respond but not react. A response is an action taken based on logic. A reaction is an impulse based on an emotional state. Your reaction will not alter the world. Your reaction only changes you. Your response is what will change the world.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
I think success is an overused term with many different interpretations depending on who you speak to. But one pattern I have noticed is successful people tend to ask better questions than unsuccessful people. Peter Thiel asks, “If you have a 10-year plan and know how to get there, you have to ask: why can’t you do this in 6 months?”
To me, success is being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want and as much as you want — while maintaining a healthy balance of achievement and appreciation.
Our vision at LawTrades is to make high-quality legal services ubiquitous to the world. When that happens, we’ve “succeeded.”