I originally wrote this post as 10 Career Tips for My 20-Something Self for Founded Magazine. It was a hit and I realized the tips were universal for business and life in general. Since my blog here is more business focused, I decided to tweak the post for the creative entrepreneur.
A large portion of life and business is trial and error: finding what works for you and learning as you go. That knowledge you gather along the way is valuable… much of which my current self would have LOVED to have known when I first started my business.
There are lessons you have to learn on your own through experience, but I’d like to think the learning curve could have been easier.
What knowledge would I share with the younger, greener version of me? Make yourself a cup of tea and take a sit. Let’s chat about 10 tips for my 20-something entrepreneur self.
1. Focus on building your vision over going after the ‘money.’
In the original post, this tip was ‘Focus on building skills over going after the ‘money.’ At first glance you think it wouldn’t make sense in business, I mean let’s be real a main focus of business is making money. Is money a result we want? Yes, cause buying my coffee in exchange for services doesn’t pay my rent. But here’s the thing, I believe in creating businesses that are about more than JUST making money.
I believe in building businesses to make an impact. They make an impact with your message, your great products, the excellent experiences you give and thinking big. To do this, you focus on building your vision over going after the quick buck.
Then at the end of the day, don’t forget to ask for your money. You delivered value and impact through building your vision through creating killer products.
2. Build and foster relationships.
Between you and every opportunity is a person who says yes. The new product launch, the collaboration, the featured store in a magazine, etc… someone says ‘yes, let’s do it’ The bottom line is people matter. And not just the so-called higher-ups. Everyone. The random person you met at a party, the employee, the person in your school group project… they could be a degree away from your next opportunity.
I’m not talking about networking here. I hate the idea of ‘networking.’ (Personally, I’m not into small talk either… I’d rather have a meaningful conversation.) What I’m really talking about is relationships. They take time. Getting to know people, giving and helping without expectation of anything in return, being authentic.
Do this not only with strategic partners, but your customers too. Building and fostering relationships with your customers leads to brand loyalty and ideas for products your people will love and stand in line to purchase.
3. Do your job and do it right.
When you start your business, you’re probably going to end up doing some less than glamorous tasks. It might just be you doing everything. It’s part of the job. Part of paying your dues.
Do every task with the same attention to detail as you would a major project. You will develop a strong work ethic and your customers will take notice. They’re watching when you least expect it.
4. Trust your instincts.
Something doesn’t feel right… don’t do it. An opportunity comes up that sounds crazy, but you know it’s what you want… go for it. Forget what others will say or think. They aren’t the ones living your life or building your business.
I’ve found their protests usually don’t have anything to do with you. Those protests are their own fears being projected out.
Bet on you. Invest in you.
5. You are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
When I first heard this idea, it was life altering. I took a look around and realized there were a few people in my life I didn’t want to be like. It was a tough moment. I realized I wanted to be around people as driven as I was. People going after their dreams… doers, go-getters, change makers.
When I put intention into who I spent time with, I attracted more of the people I wanted to be friends with. I slowly developed a diverse tribe.
When you are building your business, there will be difficult times. Having people around who ‘get it’ will be your saving grace. They will support and inspire you to new heights.
6. Create your own definition of success.
For me, I honestly never really knew what I specifically wanted to do. I just wanted to be great at it… mastery is my target.
What does success look like in your business? Is it happy employees and customers? What is the metric you want to go after?
Forget about needing investors, the huge office and the big money. Forget about all those boxes we feel like we have to check. Define what success looks like to you and don’t be afraid to change it as you change.
Fierce, but flexible.
You have an idea for something… take action and execute on it. Execution is what matters. Clarity comes from taking action, not thinking. If there is an idea you have been thinking about, but haven’t done anything about it. Take one small step right now. Make a phone call, send an email, etc. Above all take action.
You have some ideas, passions, interests, etc. Execute on them.
8. Self-Care is a must (Mental, Emotional, Physical, and Spiritual Health).
Your health is important to your work. Running at 100% mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually will enable you to do great work. This is especially important as a business owner.
Getting burnt out is a real thing… I’ve been there. Make your health a priority everyday. Develop self-care habits and you will be able to stay at the top of your game in the long run.
9. Perception is everything.
Perception is the first step in change. A shift in your perception is the difference between growth and stagnation. It’s the difference between feeling in control of your life and feeling hopeless.
Remember the quote by Rumi, ‘What you seek is seeking you.’ Your job now becomes to connect with what it is you seek.
10. Say yes, even if you don’t think you can pull it off (you’ll figure it out).
You never know where an opportunity will take you. You gain experience along the way. And if you aren’t sure how to do something… ask someone. When in doubt, Google and YouTube are epic resources.
You will figure it out. See it as a challenge, an opportunity to expand and learn.
What valuable knowledge have you gained along the way in building your business? Share your wisdom in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter @amiewilde.
P.S. Interested in working with me? I’m taking on new clients for AWILDEservices. Building a solid business foundation, simplify and create momentum. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discover if we are a good fit!
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