Luke Peters was only 11 or 12 years old when he started pulling all-nighters on weekends. 

That wasn't because he was a misbehaving preteen, but rather a hard-working kid covering the midnight-to-seven a.m. shift, along with several of his 11 siblings, at The Donuttery, his family's doughnut shop in Huntington Beach, California.

By the time he was studying microbiology at California State University, Long Beach, Perry was running his own pool maintenance and repair company. When he wasn't fishing leaves out of swimming pools, he was in the chemistry lab, trying to understand, among other things, the gut flora of local mountain lizards.

Today, as the founder and CEO of NewAir, a Cypress-based company that manufactures and sells compact home appliances, Peters oversees 65 employees and a rapidly changing business. He credits his success in part to the demanding lab work he did at CSU Long Beach.

Like other entrepreneurs, he explains, he'd subscribed to "the 80-20 rule," which says that 80 percent of your gain will come out of 20 percent of your effort. Lab work showed him that while "going for that last 20 percent is going to take 80 percent of your time," he says, it was a commitment that needed to be made.

"If you dissolved something in a solution, you'd have to go through five or 10 processes to measure that element," remembers Peters. "I wasn't the most detailed-oriented person, but lab taught me that if I cut corners, I wasn't going to get the right answers. There are no shortcuts to excellence." 

Peters has some other lessons for would-be entrepreneurs:

  • Take 100 percent responsibility for everything you do. You're the only one who can change the outcome of what happens to you, so when something doesn't go the way you wanted, instead of blaming other people or circumstances, think about what you could have done differently and how you can better prepare next time. If somebody got a better grade than you did in class, it's probably because they put in more effort.
  • Instead of binge watching the latest Netflix show, listen to podcasts about business. I listen to "The #AskGaryVee Show," "Entrepreneurs on Fire,"EntreLeadership,"Masters of Scale," and "The Tim Ferris Show." I think you can go into business no matter what your degree is in, and if you listen to podcasts for a hour a day while you're driving or working out, at the end of a year you'll have the equivalent of a master's in business.
  • Go where the growth is. When I started NewAir 15 years ago in my garage, Yahoo! used to list the top 100 search terms every day. During that summer, "portable air conditioning" was number three, so that's what we started selling. You want to make sure you're in an industry that's growing rather than declining. As shoes have gotten cheaper, for example, now is probably not a good time to go into shoe repair. Check out Google Trends to see if your idea is part of a category that's on the upswing.
  • Create, don't just consume. It's easy when you're thinking of launching a business to get caught up in too much reading and research. While you want to educate yourself, instead of reading 10 books on a topic, read two. Then, get your first product or service out. If you're going to be an entrepreneur, you can't be risk averse. A lot of people waste too much time before they start their business, and part of the reason is they exaggerate how much of a chance they're taking. You need to look 30 years down the road, and recognize, yes, there will be failures and mistakes, but failure is a great teacher, as long as you don't give up when you hit the first roadblock.