Lessons from a Compulsive Entrepreneur

Renewal Friend and Social Venture Network Member, Dal LaMagna, Founder of Tweezerman recently released his memoir Raising Eyebrows: A Failed Entrepreneur Finally Gets It Right. Below he shares a few key learnings.

Six Entrepreneurial Lessons Learned from Failing

Before Dal LaMagna, founder of Tweezerman, was a success, he was a serial failure — and it took many business flops before he got it right. Here are six lessons he learned the hard way.
Be second.
“It’s best to be second first,” according to Ted Levitt, a professor and mentor of Dal LaMagna’s. Being the first to introduce a new product or service to a market isn’t always best. If you let someone else make the costly mistakes, you can use their successes as a jumping off place for your improved version.
Insure it.
Insurance is expensive and feels like a waste of money. That is, until you sink your life savings into a drive-in disco and your first six events get rained out.
Get real.
Great moneymaking ideas are a dime a dozen. What makes a great idea valuable is not the imagined concept, but your real capacity to implement it.
Be here now.
Sometimes you get your best ideas when you stop trying so hard. When stuck or frustrated in a business enterprise, sit still and allow solutions and ideas to come to you rather than pursuing them like a tiger on the prowl.
Be humble.
The best asset an entrepreneur can have is humility in the presence of a really good idea. Try not to get ahead of yourself or be grandiose. Focus instead on succeeding by doing small, simple things well on your way to building this new enterprise.
Bail when necessary.
Some new ventures can’t be saved. It’s essential to understand when that moment has arrived — before you get so far into debt that you can’t recover. Failure, as Dal LaMagna’s mother always told him, is just a perception. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

10 Financial Dos and Don’ts for the Entrepreneur

All risk-taking entrepreneurs make financial mistakes. Here are 10 dos and don’ts that may help you navigate around them.


  • Spend only 90 percent of what you earn, not 110%.
  • Price wisely, so that if you have a product to sell, you will be able to charge the end user quadruple the amount it costs you to make it.
  • Keep track of and write down every single dollar of your expenses — including change you give to the homeless beggar on your way to work.
  • Implement a universal pricing policy upfront to avoid problems when you start expanding into chains and different user markets.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Empower your employees – give them job security, health care, and a piece of the business.


  • Spend a lot of time raising money. Instead, try to find something you can do with the money you already have.
  • Wait to close a deal. When you arrive at an agreement, close the deal as quickly as possible.
  • Overdesign your product. If you do, you’ll spend unnecessary amounts of money that could be used in more important areas.
  • Spend money unless you absolutely have to.

Learn more about Dal and his new book.