14 Lessons Learned in 14 Years as a Business Owner

Lessons Learned
StrataCore's Aaron Loehr

Aaron Loehr

By Aaron Loehr, Founder and CEO, StrataCore

Last September marked StrataCore’s 14-year anniversary. That means I’ve been in the industry for 21 years. I don’t feel that old, but my gray hair tells a different story. In honor of our milestone, I compiled 14 key beliefs, earned over 14 years since founding StrataCore:

  1. It’s all about the customer. Give them what they want or someone else will.
  2. Laughter is a magical reset button. When life gets stressful, find something funny about the situation and laugh. Once the tension subsides, your mind can more clearly solve the problem.
  3. Never let processes trump logic. I see this happen at big companies all the time. People are forced to defend a process that doesn’t fit all situations. Too many companies force a process because they don’t trust their employees to think for themselves.
  4. Only the very best employees can consistently satisfy clients. Always work to identify, attract, develop and retain the very best team members.
  5. Tell the truth. Your team, suppliers and clients can handle it. Be so transparent it hurts.
  6. IQ testing and EQ testing are an essential part of identifying top talent.
  7. In-depth reference checks are critical. Talk to at least three previous direct managers before hiring. Only hire candidates if the majority of their previous direct managers score them as a 9 or 10.
  8. Don’t tolerate toxic personalities in your company. Fire your “brilliant jerk” before great people leave. Also remove “reluctant stayers” or disengaged employees from your workforce. Brilliant jerks kill a company culture. Reluctant stayers are the same as a disengaged employee who will only do the bare minimum. Remove these employees to make room for A players who actually want to be at your company.
  9. Celebrate successes. Invite spouses and friends. Non-work activities help create better relationships and camaraderie. This helps everyone be more resilient when inevitable workplace stresses occur.
  10. Don’t let someone else’s oversight become your mistake. We constantly receive incomplete or erroneous information from vendors, providers, teammates and clients. You must closely review all information with a critical eye to make sure it makes sense. Never turn off your BS detector.
  11. Help people grow personally and professionally. Everyone wants to get better. Lay out career paths for everyone on your team. Offer guidance and coach your clients, employees and suppliers to get better. Help everyone increase awareness so they can grow in their professions.
  12. Decrease your avoidance. Withdrawing from challenges is the greatest form of self-sabotage.
  13. Never send a negative message via email or text. All sensitive topics should be discussed in person or on the phone.
  14. Work hard to build a better life for your friends, family, co-workers, clients and partners. Sincerely helping others will lead to your own success.

Those are my 14 key learned beliefs from 14 years of running a business — what are yours?

Aaron Loehr is president and chief executive officer of StrataCore. He is a 20-year veteran of the internet infrastructure, data center, technology and telecommunications industries, with a track record of successfully guiding major expansions, strategic partnerships and leading complex technical transformations at both public and private companies.

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