Thomas Andrew Hansen
Self Develpoment
The top three things I learned from starting my first business

Wondering to start your own business? Not sure if you should, or where to get started?

The first question to ask yourself is why you want to start your own business.

  • Do you hate working for someone else?
  • You don't want to work 9-5?
  • Do you want to provide something of value to people?

For whatever reason it is.... This reason will have a huge impact on how your business is created and the direction you take it.

At 25 years old I had decided to start my first real business Mute Audio. It is an e-commerce business that sells and distributes musician earplugs worldwide. For those who don’t know, musician earplugs help reduce the volume of the environment whilst maintaining audio clarity, ideal for musician and DJ's exposed to constant loud volume levels.

The idea to start this business came to me after owning a pair custom made musician earplugs. As the product was so small, sure enough, I lost them after a couple of years and I needed to buy some more. I didn't want to spend another $200 USD and a month waiting for new custom earplugs. So I had a look at some other options to see what else could be done.


1. Learning to learn

Learning to learn has been talked about by a few famous entrepreneurs. This is usually in a very broken down way with steps and guides. In some cases though, instead of learning for learning sake, learning to do something because you need it for yourself or your business can be highly effective because it is backed by motivation. There is a huge range of skills I have learned, not because I want to get a job, or because it fascinates me, but because I either needed or wanted it.

When I started 'Mute Audio'. I told myself that I wanted to do it because I wanted to learn about how to create a business. Ends up, that's exactly what happened. Looking back, if I started out with the intention to become a millionaire, maybe that's what would have happened. Even though it didn't, I'm still not disappointed in the results of what this venture has given me.

Learning seems to be the main reason I do anything. If I stop learning I become stagnant and bored. Looking at my job history, relationships and countries I have lived in it's easy to see this pattern in myself. Where and when I become bored or stagnant, I make change to a new environment. This may be hard on the relationships I have had with people (business and friends) seemingly without persistence in a career. However, I feel like all these different experiences and responsibilities have given me more of an inside idea of how things work on a grander scheme. Although I haven't had any outstanding achievements on a global scale, it's possible that these insights will make me ready for something larger and more impactful than just myself.

2. Hiring and Managing People

I had never hired someone to do anything before, not even simple tasks. It turns out there is quite an art form to find the right people for the task and making sure the communication is effective.


This took a little bit testing to get right, and by all means, there is still no right way to hire someone. However, you do pick up some little tricks.

Here are some tricks that I learned:

Due to limited budget, I was hiring remote developers through websites like and As you do not get to meet these people in person, it can be more tricky to see through what they say they can do and what they can actually do. So to help with this it’s good to come up with a game plan of some sort.

I found that being very clear and concise with the task at hand is very important, so even a 5-year-old who is reading the description can understand what needs to be done. Remember English is not the first language for a lot of these people looking for work on these websites. So keeping it clear, understandable and translatable can help improve it a lot.

After you have posted your job requirements and you start getting a lot of talent applying for the position your game plan for finding the right person needs to be addressed.

Here is what worked for me:


Have a quick look through the talent that comes in and chat with the top five - seven people that take your interest.

I decided to come up with a very basic test, without too much time involvement from the talent. Getting them to do something small, you can see how they work on an overall level. An example: If you are hiring someone for designing a 3D image, ask them to render out a picture of one element, say the frame of the structure. Just from this exercise, you can see the following:

  1. How keen they are to get the work
  2. How well they understand you.
  3. How good communication is.
  4. How fast they are.
  5. A glimpse of the quality of work.

Out of the top 7 you may only find 3-4 people complete your basic task. From there you can usually easily find the person you want to hire.


Managing people well has taken a lot longer to learn, mainly because it is an ongoing process and I still need to improve my skills a lot. However, over time I can see that I am getting better.

So here a few little tips I have picked up:

Be Clear

As mentioned earlier, being clear and concise with what needs to be done is very important. If a task comes back to you and it's not how you wanted it, nine times out of ten its because you were not clear enough in the first place. When you write up anything make sure it can't be interpreted another way. The more time you spend working with your hire the better you will get an understanding of each other. For new hire, this is not the case.

Be clear and make sure you look at yourself before blaming them.

Be Fair

Finding good quality talent is time-consuming so trying to milk out time and not paying them correctly for their work is not a good idea. After the project is finished they will just want you for a reference or rating and are not likely to want to work with you again if you are not fair. If you can see that they have put in extra time, it’s a good idea to reward them for that. Not only will they be happy, you will also feel good about it yourself.

Being fair will also help your reputation long term.

Be Responsive

Ignoring messages and not updating your talent on questions they may have can lead to confusion and frustration with the talent.

Being responsive to their messages and enquires can really help things run smoothly.

3. Time is actually more important than money

The famous business quote “time is money” is very true. In many ways, I didn’t value this concept when starting my first business as I would spend a lot of time trying to do everything myself. Well, most things anyway. Being young and naïve, this may have been a good thing as I did learn about many different aspects of the business with marketing, design, and web. Maybe it’s also crucial to learn a little bit of everything before hiring other people to do it for you. Just so you can get the right perspective on the value someone offers.

In saying this, now that I have tried and attempted most things, I feel through my second business I have a much clearer idea of what my strengths and weaknesses are and where it is best to spend my time hiring someone else, which in turn frees up my time.

Why is time more important than money you ask? Simple… you can’t get time back. Spending your time wisely is the most important thing you can do in your life.

In conclusion

I would recommend starting your own business to anyone. Starting something for myself has been the most gratifying journey I have had so far and I cannot wait to launch my next business. We need dreamers and doers in this world, and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. Just because your mom wants you to be a doctor, doesn’t mean you should. You could be offering the world so much more.