Dan Martell, the serial entrepreneur from Moncton, New Brunswick, made an appearance last week at the first Lived it Lecture of the 2013-14 season of Entrepreneurship 101. Now working on his fifth startup, Clarity, a community of experienced entrepreneurs and industry experts who offer their paid advice over the phone, Dan offered us several insights from his personal entrepreneurial journey.

Lived It Lecture: Dan Martell

Here are four lessons on entrepreneurship from Dan, summarized from his own words.

1. Go out and get a library card

At age 21 and without much work experience, Dan landed a job leading a senior development team in Fort McMurray, Alberta, where he was given two weeks to prove his abilities. Scrambling to do so, he took advantage of his library card and tried to read and learn everything he could about project management, budgeting, software development lifecycles and quality assurance so that he would have the knowledge required to lead his new team. That job lasted two years and during that time Dan managed to save enough money to start his first company, Spheric Technologies. Go get a library card.

2. Motivation trumps knowledge

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to do something; what matters is that you’re motivated to learn. For many entrepreneurs, it isn’t knowledge that stops them from succeeding—it’s not having the ability to find the information required to make it work. Being committed and having something to fight for allows you to find the solutions when you need them the most. Find that motivation.

3. Go out of your way to help others

You should hustle to be helpful to others. Do whatever you can to help others, because that’s how you’ll get energized. You’ll likely even get more out of the experience than the people who you helped.

4. “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with”

A pivotal moment for Dan was the powerful realization that spending time with people who think big and asking them lots of questions is the best way to elevate your game. If you haven’t achieved the level of success you envisioned, go out and meet people who will help bring you to the next level. They will want to see you do well.

One last bit of advice from Dan: Always build your product for yourself initially, because then even if it fails at least you were able to solve your own problem. Make your product work for you and then find out what the market wants. Find 10 early-adopters and get their feedback. Listen to your customers. No small plans.

Participants filled the overflow area in the MaRS atrium

In case you missed it, check out Dan Martell’s full lecture:


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Aislinn Malszecki

Aislinn is a strategist, designer and education producer for entrepreneurs that seek practical lessons to grow their startup companies.See more…