The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
If you could tell yourself one thing before you started your business, what would you say?
1. Spend 80 Percent of Time Working on Your Business
Most people spend 80 percent of their time taking care of the everyday operational activities in their business, but growth happens during the other 20 percent of the time you’re working on your business. In order to dominate your market, the roles must be reversed. You must spend 80 percent of the time working on your business and 20 percent working in your business. Build a team to support that action.
– Charles Gaudet, Predictable Profits
2. Remember That You’re Not Always Right
By nature, starting a business means you feel you have the right answers to bring a product or service people will want to market. Otherwise, you would never attempt such a big endeavor. It’s critical, however, to understand that you are more often wrong than right in your business decisions, and identifying and adapting quickly to being wrong will increase your odds of success.
– Phil Chen, Givit
3. Think About Meals
It’s crucial to have team members who are not only exceptionally smart at what they do, but who are also very easy and fun to work with. You should ask yourself, “Can I have a drink or meal with this person on a regular basis and still find the conversation riveting?” You will spend a lot of time with these people, so you want them to be your friends.
– Divya Dhar, Seratis
4. Hang Tough
When starting out, people are usually tremendously excited about their prospects. But excitement often turns to despair if expectations of early success were exaggerated. Remember, the road to prosperity is often a winding one. Perseverance is key, and you should never to lose your passion.
– Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net
5. Trust Your Intuition
When you start your first business, it’s easy to feel like everyone knows so much more than you do — especially your advisors and mentors. It’s true that a great advisory board or a few amazing mentors can take you far, but you still need to trust your gut. There were times when I ignored my gut feeling and opted to listen to those with more experience than I had, and it never ended well.
– Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World
6. Stay True to Your Culture
Stay as true to your core values and culture as you possibly can. Make sure that hiring and promoting happen internally as much as possible.
– Dan Price, Gravity Payments
7. Write It Down
Document everything. Take 10 or 15 minutes to record a video or do a write-up, so when someone else needs to do it again, you have the directions. This provides the thing that the majority of employees request more of when surveyed — training.
– Marjorie Adams, AQB
8. Form a Strong Focus and Plan
Make sure you have a clear business plan and goals you want to achieve each year. Have a strong focus and a plan that forecasts how you plan to grow. It’s okay to evolve as you learn, but know who your audience is and what the needs are in the industry.
– Amanda Barbara, Pubslush
9. Don’t Let the ‘Nos’ Break You
Everything begins with “no.” To me, that’s when the game begins. In the beginning, all you hear from potential investors and clients is “no.” Don’t let the “nos” break you down; let them motivate you to succeed.
– Sean Marszalek, SDC Nutrition, Inc.
10. Have Patience
Have the patience to see your vision through. Too often, people react negatively to early signals. If you stay in the game long enough, you’ll learn so many things and meet so many people that it services as a growing hedge against failure.
– Tarek Pertew, Wakefield Media
11. Make the Leap
To grow in a sustainable way, you have to be willing and able to give up doing the work yourself to spend time and energy growing your company. Thankfully, this came naturally to me, and the transition was smooth. I know a lot of people who started a business because they loved doing the work and failed to make the leap to leader because they couldn’t give up the technical work.
– Chris Cancialosi, GothamCulture
12. Life Happens
Building a business is hard work and people often forget that there is a real world outside of their startup. Make sure to take advantage of life and the opportunities it presents, both good and bad. Allow life to happen and don’t try to be all work all the time. Enjoy your friends, family and everything that is thrown at you. It will make you a better person and help you in the long run.
– Aron Schoenfeld, Do It In Person LLC
13. Slice Goals to Achieve ‘Wins’
You have to manufacture wins and set achievable goals to move forward. Every project in a startup should take no more than six to 10 weeks. First, focus on small wins and breaking down your goals. By having small goals and stringing them together, you create momentum. Small wins lead to bigger wins. In my experience, startups are successful because of a long string of small wins.
– Ryan Stoner, ryanstoner.com
14. Prepare for the Worst and the Best
It’s hard to imagine exactly what will happen with your company when you’re just getting started, but it’s important to invest the time up front and go through various scenarios around the future of your company — especially if you have partners. Write out a plan together for how you will handle worst- and best-case scenarios. For example, what happens if someone wants to buy your company some day?
– Allie Siarto, Fare Oak