Do what you love. Don’t let failure knock you out. Follow your instincts.
If you’re a young entrepreneur, there’s a good chance you recognize these clichés as the typical advice for new business owners. But what about the advice you need that you never hear? What are the really successful entrepreneurs thinking — and did they just get lucky? Here’s what you need to know to stay motivated and make smarter decisions.
Choose Your Team Wisely
Surround yourself with friends, coworkers and mentors who embody the characteristics you value. The more time you spend with them, the more secrets of success you’ll learn. Hire or partner up with coworkers who demonstrate the skills and abilities you lack. Get to know seasoned entrepreneurs whose careers you want to emulate. Keep in touch with friends who are succeeding in their own careers — even if what they’re doing doesn’t have anything to do with your business.
Seek honest feedback, and appreciate that personal and professional growth comes from constructive criticism. And remember that values can’t be taught, but skills can — so invest in character, always.
Know Where You Want to Put Your Energy
Running a small business often means you have to wear many hats at once. And although you might be the chief salesperson, IT expert, customer service rep and CFO, make sure you put your biggest focus on delighting your customers and getting to know your market.
Outsource back office functions such as bookkeeping and human resources so you can stay investor-ready at all times, and don’t let background noise prevent you from delivering the highest-quality, highest-value product or service possible.
Writing Down Goals Isn’t Enough
Everybody writes down goals, but that’s not enough. Have you written down the concrete steps you have to take to achieve your vision? Learn from mistakes others make when you can, but you’ll need to accept that trial and error is a major component of successful entrepreneurship. One way to reduce the impact of major mistakes is to spend time getting to know your biggest critics. Why didn’t they like your product or service? How can you do it better? And when you have your formula figured out, deliver more than expected. Always.
Keep Things Simple
In the earliest days of your business, you’ll expend a tremendous amount of personal resources on your business. For most successful young entrepreneurs, that means time instead of funds. Keep things simple by focusing on doing one or two things really well. Stay cheap, and conserve where you can. Work from home. Don’t blow precious funds on new tech when you can just as easily use your old laptop. Make use of cloud computing so you can get 24/7 mobile access, collaborate with ease and limit extra expenses.
Get in the habit of embracing simplicity now and your bottom line will thank you later.
Ditch the Backup Plan
A side gig can produce a nice side income. But as an entrepreneur, your goal is to make your side gig your main gig — and that means making a full-time commitment. When time and emotional resources are funneled to your “regular” job instead of your personal enterprise, you can’t give your new business your all. And if you want to make it as an entrepreneur, you have to be willing to eat, sleep and breathe your work. Those who are passionate about success won’t hesitate to take a big risk.
The good news is that, since you’re young, you may not have the personal and financial obligations that older entrepreneurs do. Take advantage of your youth and your (relative) lack of responsibilities. Ditch plan B, and make succeeding at plan A your only option.