Founder's Journey: Lessons Learned as an Entrepreneur

Founder's Journey: Lessons Learned as an Entrepreneur

This February marks five years since our founder, David Tann, took a leap on his lifelong dream and opened the doors of Tantrum. (Where has the time gone?!) It’s been a pretty epic ride so far - movie-worthy even - and we’re amped for what the future holds.

David could write a book (stay tuned) on the lessons he’s learned since founding Tantrum, so we asked him to reflect on and highlight some of the top takeaways of the last five years.

1. You’re Gonna Make Mistakes. What Matters Most is How You Bounce Back.There are things you can prepare for, but there are other things you just have to learn as you grow. Things no one tells you about.  There will be mistakes made, but realistically there is nothing wrong with making mistakes. What’s most important is learning from them and being able to move forward. It’s when you don’t learn from them, that you’re screwed. Mistakes and failure are a natural part of the process.

And on that note...

2. The process is the process. There’s no avoiding it. No way around it. Trust it. Live by it. Soon you’ll find that in the process there is growth, opportunity and beauty.

3. Keep Perfecting Your Craft, But Don’t Shortcut Learning the Business. I’ve had to tell myself this frequently: “If you do not actually learn how to run the business, then you are not going to be around for year three.” Don’t let the business run you. I often spend just as much time in a week creating and working with clients as I do on administrative tasks.

4. Don’t be Afraid to Be Selective. Who you work with is very important. This applies to clients, collaborators, vendors and employees. Sometimes you’ll have to do jobs to keep the lights on, but do this without forgetting that not all money is good money. Weigh the pros and cons and vet your clients as much as they’re vetting you. Everyone has something that is driving them, motivating them. Whatever it may be, find out and see how it aligns with your values and motivations. Determine what you can live with and what you can’t. But with that said…

5. Surround yourself with dope people. I’m only as great as my team and the people I surround myself with. My circle has kept me motivated, kept me encouraged and has helped me keep the lights on. They’ve also kept me on my toes. I’m smarter and stronger because of them.

6. Don’t Forget Why You’re Doing This. You are going to go through highs and lows. But don’t ever forget why you started. You hold on to that. Keep that.  And at the end of the day, in order to do this, you can’t do it for the money.

7. You are never going to get more time. There is nothing you will be able to do that will give you more time. There are 24 hours in a day, but it’s up to you how you divvy that up. What will you choose to focus on? Nothing is determining that but you.

8. Inspiration is everywhere. There is so much inspiration around. Don’t take anything for granted. One of my favorite ways to generate ideas is to look at stuff that is super, super boring and mundane. I also make sure to surround myself with people I’m inspired by. When I’m feeling down, I focus on the work of those I admire or who I want to work with.

9. Don’t Ignore What Keeps You Up At Night. If it's positive, it's passion. If it's negative, I call it stress.

10. Arrogance Makes You Blind. Don’t get ahead of yourself. I’m sure you’re amazing at what you do, but there’s always room to grow and more to learn. When I was developing the Tantrum brand and thinking about the “character” of the company, humility was at the core.  Agencies (especially the big ones) are known for having big egos to match. But we’re not like that — and we never will be. We’re incredibly grateful to be in this biz, doing what we love. And we know there’s always room to learn more.

BONUS. Hustle while they party, work while they sleep, and you’ll live like they dream. I adopted this motto during my days in undergrad at Wake Forest and it’s stuck with me - and served me ever since. The vision has to be bigger than the moment.