We are celebrating Cooper’s 25th anniversary this year, and Alan and I are feeling reflective and nostalgic. Here are three big business lessons we’ve learned over the years:

Build a business you believe in.

Many founders plan and start companies because they want to get rich, rather than fulfill a greater mission or goal, or improve lives. As founders, we’ve poured our hearts and souls into Cooper, because we viscerally believe in our product; our motivation is to leave behind a better-designed world. We want the human experience to be more fun, more sustainable, and less frustrating. When things get tough--an inevitable fact of business--we are driven by the fact that we do important work that makes the world better. We believe this philosophy has attracted good and committed people to Cooper, and helped us keep them.

You can’t do it alone.

No matter how talented or smart you are, you can’t be master of everything. (Darn!) You need help, from people with integrity. As you grow, you need people to turn your mission into a reality and to manage your business. You also need outside perspectives to guide you where you are deficient. We are grateful to our internal team and to our outside advisors, who have helped us move beyond our tunnel vision, emotions, and biases. As consultants, we value outside perspectives and have learned when to utilize them.

Open lines of communication early.

Hiring the right people for the right job is a difficult but vital ingredient for the success of your business. We’re constantly on the prowl for top talent. Over the years we’ve learned it’s sometimes important to say goodbye. Keeping a disengaged employee out of loyalty can hold them back from personal growth and success, and hurt your performance. What’s more, when a good fit changes to a bad fit, people become unhappy, and unhappiness is contagious. Our advice: when performance and/or engagement dips, open lines of communication early.

Alan and I are delighted to have reached this milestone and we couldn’t have done it alone. We owe a debt of gratitude to all of you for joining us on this exciting ride. Here’s to 25 more!