Four Lessons I Learned from Selling My Company: The Importance of Teamwork
By Shaz Amin
Earlier this year, I was kept up countless sweat-drenching nights facing one of the most important decisions of my life – the type of decision that would impact my future, as well as the future of those who depended on me, my family.
Blue Track Media was MY baby, my first company. I took all the risk of starting it from nothing and gave up a significant part of my life to see it transform into something.
How could I just let it go after all these years?
What if things don’t work out with them?
What if I lose everything I worked so hard on?
These were just a few of the questions that kept me up at night as I pondered if selling Blue Track Media, the company I started out of high school, was the right decision to make. I never started this company with the thought of an exit in mind, so when the opportunity came up suddenly, it was nerve-racking. I was very reluctant, but my mentor and now partner Rudy Karsan offered me a wise analogy.
He told me: “Imagine you’re a running back with no offensive line. Sure, you’re breaking tackles and scoring touchdowns. But now imagine you had an amazing offensive line. How many touchdowns would you score then?”
That sealed the deal, and over the course of the last few months, I’ve learned anew the importance of having a team. Teamwork is an invaluable aspect of being successful. Alone you can only get so far, but with a team, the possibilities are endless. I first learned how important teamwork was playing high school basketball (those who know me know that my love for basketball is anything but subtle) and have grown to appreciate what a remarkable asset teamwork can be.
Take Miami Heat superstar LeBron James, for example. Many people think LeBron should be able to do everything by himself, but the fact of the matter is, he only started winning championships when he had a solid team around him. Surrounding yourself with talented people who support and challenge you is what takes your “game” to the next level.
“No matter how good you are, you can’t win and you can’t get to the highest without playing with your teammates and for your teammates,” explains LeBron. “I learned this when I was a 9-year-old and it is still with me today.”
Before, I could do whatever I wanted without thinking twice. I could make rash decisions and not be held accountable for them since failure can easily be forgotten or swept under the rug, an unattractive trait in the business world. But now, I have real teammates, and real teammates hold you accountable for your actions. I’ve noticed that accountability makes me a better decision-maker and an even better leader because letting my team down is the last thing I want to do.
A Sense of Relief
When I first started Blue Track Media, I would go to sleep at night in fear that I would wake up one day and lose it all. It was the worst 6 years of sleep I ever got. However, now I get much better sleep knowing that with every obstacle I face, I have a team which I can rely on and trust to have my back. There is no more “I.” Now it’s “we.” We succeed together, we fail together. The Heat wouldn’t be the 2013 NBA champions if LeBron didn’t have Ray Allen by his side. Even before Ray’s big shot that saved the Heat from losing against the San Antonio Spurs in game six, Ray made LeBron’s job easier by spreading the floor, opening up driving lanes and, most of all, passing lanes for LeBron. Ray’s presence as a competent teammate was enough to give LeBron the edge he needed to really dominate the court.
Shoulder to Lean On
Before, when I had an issue I would ask the only person I’d ever asked for help – myself. I always took it upon myself to solve it because that’s all I had. I never had anyone by my side who had been going through the same business and/or personal problems that I was going through to lean on. Without choosing to sell my company, I would have never in a million years understood how invaluable the advice that I receive from my team at Karlani Capital really is. Some people pay $500 an hour for executive coaches to help them through the obstacles I face every day. I pay nothing. All I do is pick up the phone or shoot an email and I have some sort of favorable response within the hour.
A Second Family
I am a firm believer that in order for you to succeed, your job has to feel more like a hobby than actual work. And having a team of people that you work with -- and enjoy the company of – makes your job a whole lot more fun. Your co-workers become your family, and are a staple in your life. At Karlani, we laugh and joke around with one another as if we’ve known each other forever. We play card games and foosball for hours and hours because all of us are so competitive that we don’t want to lose. I respect every one of my teammates and know that the same level of respect is given back. They all come together with me to celebrate my successes as well as stick with me through all my failures. That’s what a real family does, and I’m happy to be a part of it.
I sold my company just before summer, but I already feel like I have learned a lot. My “game” has been taken to the next level and it keeps improving every month. So, my advice to all you aspiring entrepreneurs – don’t go it alone. Build a strong team, instead. You’ll be a smarter person and a better leader for it.
(Shahzil (Shaz) Amin started his first company, Blue Track Media while he was still in high school, and started his second company Plugged Inc. (premium audio brand) when he was in college. Earlier this year, he sold Blue Track Media to a North East NY-based venture capital firm, Karlani Capital, and is now its managing partner. Shahzil has been featured in publications like Forbes and Business Insider.)