Words of wisdom from the founder of Getty Images

For those of you who don’t know, Jonathan Klein founded Getty Images together with Mark Getty, back in 1993. Getty Images is the leading stock photo business in the world.

Last week, thanks to Saul Klein and Seedcamp, I had the priviledge to listen to him for two hours, speaking about how he built a business that makes hundreds of millions of dollars in profit every year.

What struck me the most was how “normal” Mr. Klein was. Extremely friendly and patient with all our questions, some of which were rather stupid, I think :). Then, I was amazed at the fact he had a set of ‘principles’ for every aspect of the business, whether it’s hiring people, scaling the business or creating sustainability. And last but definitely not least, I loved the fact that he was fun, easy going and had a constant smile on his face.

Besides talking about how he built a billion dollar company in 15 years, he gave us 10 tips that can help us do it as well. And I want to share that wisdom with you:

1. Raise more money than you think you need. If you’re on to build a large business, dilution doesn’t matter anyway. You’re in the business of minimizing risk.

2. Cash is the only thing that matters. That should be your focus. Create an automated, scalable business model that will generate cash.

3. Invest in your company’s culture. It works as a filter for making small, easy or complex and tough decisions.

4. The two most important things in your company are: your employees and your customers.

5. Be honest, transparent & realistic. Especially with yourself.

6. Decide fast. It’s better to be wrong and fix it than sit around for 3 months and miss on opportunities.

7. Wrong decisions are OK. As long as you’re wrong really fast! 😉

8. Focus, focus, focus. Say NO to stuff. Constantly.

9. LEAD. People are crying out for leadership. Know where you’re going, and they’ll follow. You can find Jonathan’s leadership principles here.

10. Have fun every day. Sometimes it’s even black humor”, he said.

Besides the “10 rules for building a business”, he constantly showered us with other various bits of advice, like: be unglamorous, make it easy to use, be accessible, understand your market and be relevant, speak the same language as your customer, do a lot of research, explore, and my personal favorite – make the customer look good.

With that said, I’d like to thank Jonathan for inspiring me to try and be better, work harder, lead thoroughly and have fun while doing it. Oh, and I finally understood that building a great business will take at least 10 years. I’m up for that.

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