A Step in the Right Direction

Guidance for Running a Business

“Get a government job with a pension!” joked Steven Sashen, founder and CEO of minimalist footwear company Xero Shoes, when asked what advice he would give to his younger self. Having worked to create his own companies since graduate school, Sashen considers himself a true entrepreneur. He’s never had a job and has never interviewed for a job. He doesn’t even have a resume. Despite this boundless entrepreneurial spirit, he cautions aspiring entrepreneurs of the perilous nature of this career path. 

When he originally pitched the idea of Xero Shoes to his wife, she replied, “It won’t make any money. It’s a waste of time. It’s a distraction from other things you should be doing.” 

“Yeah, you’re right,” he conceded. That night, after his wife fell asleep, he built the website. A decade later, Xero Shoes has become the best-selling running sandal in the world.

For Sashen, like many entrepreneurs, the outset of his journey was wrought with uncertainty, so now, he advises newcomers to mitigate doubt as much as possible in the early stages of building their businesses. Before you commit to an idea, according to Sashen, you should prove it has legs: “Just because you think people will want it, or because your friends and family tell you it’s a great idea, that doesn’t mean it is. Reduce your risk by validating the concept.”

Sashen also believes that successful entrepreneurs should abandon the notion of a work-life balance. “If you get over the idea that there’s a thing called balance, it’ll eliminate a lot of the stress that you’re feeling when you think you should (or even could) find balance,” he shared. This shift in mindset helps Sashen maintain overall well-being in the face of daily work stress. 

Though running a footwear company has been riddled with challenges, it has given Sashen the opportunity to change people’s lives. “If it weren’t for the tens of thousands of calls, emails, reviews, and testimonials that we’ve gotten where people tell us how Xero Shoes have changed their lives, we wouldn’t do this,” he confessed. For some, the natural design of Xero footwear provides simple comfort for walks, runs, and hikes, and for others, the shoes provide the opportunity to engage in all those activities (and many more) for the first time in years or for the first time without pain. For that, Sashen is eternally grateful for his entrepreneurial journey. 

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Work Smarter//

Here’s What All Great Entrepreneurs Have in Common

by Ryan Holiday

Women in STEM: “We’ve found that it’s crucial employees feel empowered to bring their true selves to work, are given the autonomy to make bold decisions, and feel supported and challenged along the way.” with Bethany Parker and Fotis Georgiadis

by Fotis Georgiadis

This Inventor's Greatest Gift to the World Wasn't GPS

by Rebecca Watson

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.