Starting a business – or even getting involved as a professional – when you’re young can be intimidating. You might have knowledge about business from school, books or practical advice from sources online, but there’s a big difference between understanding business fundamentals on paper and gaining wisdom through actual experience.
By the end of your career, you’ll have accumulated a wealth of knowledge and hundreds of lessons, but there are some lessons that you should learn early on – ideally before you turn 30.
These lessons are some of the most important to learn while you’re still young enough to make use of them:
1The right people are worth everything
It’s almost impossible to build a successful business by yourself. Even if you’re a solo entrepreneur, there will be mentors, partners, vendors and peers alongside you helping you achieve your long-term vision. So, recognise how valuable other people will open you up to more opportunities, help you keep an eye out for new contacts no matter where you are and make you more discerning in decisions like hiring and long-term deals.
Learning this lesson early will prevent you from wasting time on the wrong people and give you more time to work with the best people you find.
2You’re going to fail – and that’s okay
No matter how much you know or how much you prepare, failure is going to be inevitable for you. Your business may become successful overall, but there will be individual strategies and campaigns that crash and burn, and ideas that fizzle out entirely.
Facing failure with the realisation that it is, in some contexts, unavoidable, makes it. easier to accept.
You can view it as a lesson and an opportunity to improve, rather than an end point or a sign that you should give up entirely.
3Time is your most valuable resource
The adage that “time is money” is an apt metaphor to describe the power that time can hold when budgeted and used as a resource.
This works in a few different dimensions. For example, the sooner you start something, the more time you will have to generate benefits for yourself, and the more time you’ll have to work with that project.
Additionally, you only have so many hours in the day, and how you spend them has a direct impact on how much value you’re able to produce. The sooner you learn this lesson, the more time you’ll save.
4Communication can prevent or fix almost any problem
The power of communication can’t be underestimated. Communicating proactively can prevent the development of almost any problem – by explaining things clearly, setting firm expectations and mitigating misunderstandings.
Communicating well can also help you resolve any problem, whether it’s making an apology, coming up with a mutually agreeable solution or explaining circumstances.
5Perfection is the enemy of progress
Because of the fast-paced business environment we live in, waiting to move forward with a new initiative because it’s not quite perfect can mean the failure of that initiative.
Agile, flexible, adaptive businesses that demonstrate an understanding that things can be tested and optimised while they’re already producing a return on investment are the ones that succeed.
You’re never going to get it perfect on the first try. But be sure to balance your initiative’s “readiness” with agility and speed.
Related: 9 Top Tips For Young Entrepreneurs
6All ideas must be rooted in practicality
No matter how good or original or appealing your idea is, it’s only as valuable as it is practical. For example, if you have a vision for an amazing video, but you don’t have the resources to produce it in an efficient way, you have to drop the idea.
The same can be said of any business idea; you may have a revolutionary new concept for an enterprise, but if there’s no way to make it feasible or profitable, you won’t be able to move to any form of execution. Sometimes, the best ideas have to be tabled due to a lack of practicality.
7There is always more you can be doing to keep learning
No matter how much you know, or how much you think you know, there’s always more information to learn. You’ll always have room to be a better leader and a better entrepreneur, and there will always be new skills and abilities to acquire.
Maintaining a course of constant improvement will keep you at your best for as long as possible.
The earlier you learn these business lessons, the more time you’ll have to use them in a practical environment, and the fewer repercussions you’ll face in neglecting them (whether intentionally or unintentionally).
You’ll never be perfect, so don’t worry if you make mistakes or forget things you would have benefitted from.
There’s also a difference between reading about lessons in an online article and actually experiencing them firsthand – so be prepared to do your best learning as you go through these challenges.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Entrepreneurship Is All About Overcoming Obstacles
Confronting your own doubts and fears is the essence of being an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurship is not a destination; it’s a journey. On this journey, successful entrepreneurs don’t have an expectation of “arriving” to some finish line. If you do have that expectation, you won’t continue to push yourself to step outside of your comfort and grow. You won’t seek out the things that truly help your business experience explosive results because all those things require you stretching yourself.
On any journey, you have times of joy and more than a few setbacks. During the times of joy, you feel like you can accomplish anything. It gives you the strength and motivation to continue to put in the work that helps your business.
During the hard times, negative feelings and emotions can easily take over. Before you know it, you’re feeling sorry for yourself and you turn to your familiar coping mechanism.
That coping mechanism could be food, alcohol, binge-watching TV or any other thing that takes your focus away from what you want to accomplish in your business. Since you don’t have a boss or company dictating your day and what you accomplish, that time “coping” could turn into weeks of your doing no work at all.
Becoming a successful entrepreneur means understanding hard times are when you need to push. When there are obstacles, here’s what you need to do.
Acknowledge, then process your thoughts
The only way to get through obstacles is to start with acknowledging that they’re there. The gateway to your feelings and emotions is your thoughts. What you think about and focus on is what you’ll attract more of into your life.
When you’re dealing with obstacles, your thoughts focus on what you can’t control and why that situation is happening to you. That can be a dark place.
When you feel your thoughts spiraling, give yourself two minutes to fully feel what is going on in your head. Don’t try to suppress those thoughts – let them out. When you try to suppress them, they grow stronger and threaten to get control.
Once you have given yourself two minutes, take control of your thoughts. Focus on what brings you joy and what you’re grateful for in your life. It’s hard to be down when you’re expressing gratitude.
Focus on what you can control
Life is messy. Change is hard. Growing a business is not easy and it feels like everything can go wrong at once. There are always going to be things you can’t and shouldn’t try to control.
There are, however, things you can do something about. If your marketing plan is off, you can readjust. If your sales are lacking, you can go back what you know works. If a team member is causing more trouble than is worth helping them, you can let them go.
The point being, there are tangible things you can fix in your business no matter what is happening. Identify what the things are that you can do something about.
Create a plan that will help you get on the path to recovery. Make it practical and actionable. Fill up your to-do list and calendar with the tasks that lead to results.
Ask for help, then take action
Some obstacles feel like more than you can handle. Seeking counsel and support can be the difference between you getting through it or failing.
Don’t try to be Wonder Woman or Superman. Seek help. One of the best things you can do is make decisions that help you recover. Talking and planning with someone who understands and is trained in dealing with a crisis is valuable.
Then, make decisions that are action-based. If a decision pushes you toward the action that helps your business, make it. One of the best ways to recover from difficult situations is to take massive action. Taking action on the things you can control will give you progress. As you consistently take action, you’ll be closer to your goal before you even realise.
Obstacles don’t have to be business breakers in your life. You can learn from them and use them to make you a stronger and wiser entrepreneur. The most successful entrepreneurs understand that it’s not the crisis – it’s your response that determines how successful you’ll be. Stay strong, process your thoughts, create a plan and then take action.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Start-ups: Creating A High Tech/High Touch Environment
Here are some practical tips for creating a ‘high tech/high touch environment’.
In this fast-paced tech orientated world things are changing at a frightening yet exciting rate. It is so easy and so quick to create a tech start-up from anywhere in the world and office space as a requirement to start up has become obsolete, your garage will do. Yet because it is so easy and so cost effective for so many to create a start-up it is so hard to stand out amongst this entanglement of serial tech entrepreneurs and innovative start-ups.
The millennial generations’ general paradigm of thinking, which is more open –minded and entrepreneurial is slowly but surely breaking through the barriers of traditional business operations, mechanisms and methods, imbalances are created, however, when tech is the sole focus and people are forgotten in the process. As is so evident throughout history eventually by some means balance is sought in order to create equilibrium.
This writing serves as advice to all tech start-ups to seek balance from the onset in creating a “high tech/high touch” environment. A “High tech/high touch” environment can be defined as a balanced approach where both tech solutions, and of equal importance, team empowerment and inspiring leadership form a potent combination of enduring success.
Technology by itself cannot solve everything but technology applied in unison with a strong people centred approach can be a powerful catalyst towards solving at least some of this worlds’ major challenges.
Although many factors such as for example fiscal discipline and other management controls play a vital role in your start-ups’ success do not forget to create an inspiring environment for your team within which they feel safe and united in purpose. Key to business growth is the individual growth of all team members and no stone should be left unturned in moving from a toxic and/or culture of complacency to a learning and growth culture.
Co-create an inspiring vision for your team and get their full buy-in. If you cannot do that you might have to put in more effort when it comes to your own leadership skills and/or “free up the future” of complacent and lethargic employees whom simply do not want to work hard to collectively actualise your business’ co-created vision.
Although very hard, it is worth the effort to only hire people that are passionate about and have integrity in what they do. If a sustainable and successful “high tech” environment is the aim ensure that it is underpinned by very smart hiring and training practises further enhanced by a good dose of inspirational servant leadership.
Generally speaking, everyone wants to feel part of something bigger, exciting, and inspiring. It is your responsibility as founder and leader to create a motivating and energetic business climate wherein every team member is empowered to execute at a rapid pace and with a “zero defect” mind-set. A team environment wherein everyone sincerely wants to be great at what they do and are energised by ‘small wins’ on the path to actualising the grand vision of the company is far more inspiring and sustainable as opposed to an environment where ‘subordinates’ are only managed and basically forced to do their jobs.
Related: The Anatomy Of Peak Performance
Sincerely care for your people yet maintain balance,as caring does not mean you treat them like children. Caring means taking great interest in both their career and personal development, and to be tough enough to eventually let those go that does not constructively contribute to a positive growth culture.
Here are some practical tips for creating a ‘high tech/high touch environment’:
- Have a balanced approach in hiring. Hire for technical and people skills and ensure that there is a clear development and training plan for all team members that is reasonable and attainable.
- Find your purpose as an entrepreneur and with great enthusiasm model that purpose at every juncture as to inspire others to find their purpose.
- As ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ guard the positive and growth culture that you model as a leader with all your energy and remove anything and anyone from the aforesaid culture that is counter-productive to your business performance.
- Sincerely care about and show that you care about each individual team members’ personal and career development.
- Regularly put having fun and inspiration high on meeting agendas as we generally take ourselves too seriously.
Why You Shouldn’t Quit Your Job To Start A Business
Rather than taking the plunge, consider dipping your toe in first
As the world becomes more digitized and access to the internet is something we all enjoy, more and more of us want to quit our day jobs to start our own businesses. The word “entrepreneur” is thrown around a lot these days, with many people seeing it as a means to enjoy a whole new level of professional, financial and personal freedom.
It is not difficult to see why, either. Having the ability do what you love, when you want and on your own terms is certainly attractive, especially when you could potentially build it into a sizeable income. Don’t be too quick, however, to abandon your day job to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams. Many of today’s best-known entrepreneurs consider doing so to be reckless and unnecessary.
“Entrepreneurs” are rarely the modern-day maverick who suddenly decide one day to quit their jobs and pursue their dreams. After all, quitting a job to pursue business is risky, especially without having a safety net in place. In fact, the majority of people who decide to start an online business will fail within the first year.
Further, there is far more involved in transitioning from being an employee of others to becoming your own boss than you may realise. Changing your mind-set from that of an employee to an entrepreneur is a major key to successfully bridging that divide.
If you operate with the mind-set of an employee — a person who is used to working for others and being paid by them – you will almost certainly fail. When you work for others, you do what they tell you to do. As an entrepreneur, you decide what the next best step is, and you execute that step in your day-to-day actions. The latter requires both a significant mind-set shift and major discipline.
At the same time, in our rapidly changing economy, you would almost be doing yourself a disservice not to start a business. But, how can you do so while working full-time?
Take the “hybrid path” to entrepreneurship
If you’re willing to sacrifice much of your free time now to reap the rewards later, you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur. Often called the “hybrid path” to entrepreneurship, many successful entrepreneurs started their business while still being employed full-time.
Research has shown that those who kept their day jobs while starting their businesses were 33 percent more likely to be successful than their risk-taking counterparts.
Leveraging your full-time job in the early days of your business, allows you to build on firmer financial ground, increasing the likelihood that your enterprise will last and thrive through the initial stages.
In addition, being entrepreneurial within your existing job allows you to build the necessary skills and traits you will need as you transition from your employee to entrepreneurial role.
Being impatient and chasing short-term gratification by quitting your job and going all-in, is risky and often ill-advised. Building slowly and steadily for the long-term is often the wisest course of action.
Today, it’s more important than ever to start a business
Still, with all that being said, the time couldn’t be more right to start your own business and become self-sufficient. Unlike in years past, having a job no longer guarantees financial security.
Rapid developments in technology and the ever-increasing digitization of our world puts creative and business-building tools in the hands of everyone. Whether you have skills to market or a great idea for a product, you too could be the next Bill Gates or Elon Musk.
Even if you set your sights a little lower, consider what skills you have that others would gladly pay you for. Figure out what you can charge per client, and how many clients you would need to completely replace your income. Unless you’re already earning seven figures, you’ll soon realise that the numbers are not that daunting.
I was able to build my first business through affiliate marketing With affiliate marketing, you don’t have to create your own product. Rather, you earn a commission by promoting other people’s products.
Though the thought of running your own business, spending your days working on something you’re passionate about, and choosing how and where you spend your time is enticing, realise there are days if not years of sleepless nights, cash flow shortfalls and mind-set hurdles between you and your destination.
By building your business while working full- or part-time, you will have the cash flow in the short term to get your enterprise off the ground. Once your business begins bringing in an income which rivals that of your day job, then and only then should you consider whether to pursue it full-time.
Building a business is not for the faint of heart. But, if you’re willing to work crazy hours, delay gratification and learn from your failures, you can build both a business and life like few others. After all, “Life is too short to be living somebody else’s dream.”
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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