If you could hop into a time machine, what would you tell your younger business self? What are the biggest lessons learnt since you started entrepreneurship? This is one of our favorite questions here at CBNation.
Here’s what CEOs would tell their younger business selves.
#1-Help careers succeed
Make it an on-going goal to acknowledge and encourage talent, and when you are in a management position – make it a goal for subordinates as well. A good leader should be measured in part, by how many careers they have helped succeed. And acknowledge wherever you see it – not just on your team or in your company. Your encouragement might just be the boost someone needs to advance in their career.
Thanks to Patricia Suflita Wilson, P.S Think Big!
#2- Focus on what you like doing
What I’ve learned over the past 10 years is that a career should never be an aim or a goal, a successful career is a result of dedicating your energy towards something that inspires you. To me success is nothing that you can actively pursue, instead, it’s something that happens along the way and it requires effort, endurance, ideas and also luck. I would tell my younger self to never focus on who I’d want to be but solely on what I’d like to do – and if everything goes well success will come by itself.
Thanks to Moritz Schmittat, Moritz Schmittat Photography!
#3- Follow your passion
The first thing I would tell my younger self is to follow my passion. I would let my skills take me wherever they may instead of taking what society perceived to be a safer, more secure route. I started an e-commerce business from my college dorm room back in the ’90s and used it to fund my journey through medical school. So why was I still aiming to be a doctor if I was turning such profits as an entrepreneur? Well, it was the pursuit of medicine that felt safe at the time, so I spent seven years finishing med school and my family practice residency. Thankfully, I eventually walked away from a medical career to chase my true passion for entrepreneurship. I’m proud to say I’ve had a great career as an entrepreneur as I’ve raised more than $100 million in venture capital. Today, I don’t regret the decision to walk away from medicine in the slightest. The only thing I can say is that I did it seven years too late!
Thanks to John James, Engine E-Commerce!
#4- Trust your instinct
I was always worried if I was making the right decision for my business. In the beginning, I was extremely stressed. To make matters worse, I would take the advice of motivational speakers, business executives, friends and family who didn’t hesitate to tell me what they would do if they were me. I was so confused. What I’ve learned is to go with my gut. My instinct has never let me down. I stopped inviting people to offer information about my business and decided to pray and allow God to guy me in my decision making.
Thanks to Zondra Wilson, Blu Skin Care, LLC!
#5- Think possibilities
Don’t listen to what other people say. Don’t think that you can’t do it. Don’t fear. You can do whatever you dream. You can be your worst enemy if you listen the fear voice that comes inside of you. Some things are going to work, some are not. With the way the world is now, you can do anything. Even if everyone is saying, No – it will never happen. Honestly: just screw them. Check them out of your mind and go for it.
Thanks to Michael Minter, Mintco Finanial!
#6- Don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s all small stuff
I recall being so worried and stressed over jobs. Whether I would keep it or lose it. Homes, cars, material things. After being laid off over 7 times, being homeless, divorced twice and losing it all you realize that at the end of the day none of those things matter and you don’t hold on to things as tightly as you did before. Now I have reinvented myself and I am happy to have things but I am just happy simply to be.
Thanks to Sharifah Hardie, In The News PR!
#7-Consider that change is constant
To build a sustainable company, you can’t be satisfied with the status quo. Challenge yourself and your team to look ahead. Build a company that addresses the future needs of the market, not just today’s.
Thanks to Paul Hammond, VirtualPBX!
#8- Delegate and build relationships
Most CEOs forget the Golden Rule: All Business is The Business of Relationships. That means strong communications, value propositions, and 360 engagement with customers. The second rule of business: The Definition of Leadership – A Leader sets and agenda and asks for help. We must delegate and trust.
Thanks to Bob Gold, Bob Gold & Associates!
#9- Learn how to sell well
Selling is so important in business and in life. When learning to sell, you learn how to see things from the other person’s perspective and find common ground. Once you’ve done that, you’re now able to persuade them to see it from your point of view and in the end, compel them to take the action you would like them to take that in some way, will be mutually beneficial to the both of you. Notice I said “mutually beneficial” and not just beneficial for yourself. The thing about sales is that it’s not about manipulating people to do what you want them to do for your own personal gain, it’s about getting them to see why what your offering is beneficial to the both of you. This is why I say sales is important in life and in business because everything we do pertaining to people is, in some way or another, sales.
Thanks to Alex Altuhov, HandyKith!
#9- Don’t obsess over your decisions
Like every entrepreneur I made tons of mistakes in my early days. When I started my company in 1994, e-commerce was in its infancy. Many companies came and went with the .com boom. When you watch companies rise and fall all around you while you struggle to get your own footing, it can be extremely nerve-racking. I spent countless nights lying awake overanalyzing strategies and overthinking almost every decision that came across my desk when I didn’t need to. I could have saved myself a lot of anxiety if I trusted my instincts more. My advice to budding entrepreneurs, especially in spaces that are new and emerging is to trust your education, expertise and instincts. Overthinking leads to you doubting yourself and often times making choices based on fear rather than a well thought out and innnovative strategy.
Thanks to Tony Ellison, Shoplet!
#10- Don’t fear falling
Enjoy rocking the boat and don’t fret about falling off on occasion. Know that things – including the ones you may deem crucial – will change, and often. Welcome the opportunity and celebrate even the smallest of victories ahead of new changes. The road ahead of you will be everything and anything but monotonous, so buckle your seatbelt, Dorothy!
Thanks to Aleksandra Scepanovic, Ideal Properties Group!
#11- Several things
Looking back on my long career, I see so many opportunities I missed that passed my way. I would tell my younger self, keep studying, take a front row seat, keep questioning what you know, and be more aware of what is happening in your community. Be prepared to recognize opportunities and seize the moment with both hands. Warren Buffett said it best, when it’s raining gold, go out with a bucket, not a thimble.
Thanks to Stephen Troy, AeroFund!
#12- The worse can come to the worst
Don’t assume that everything will work out. There are many things over which you have no control, especially the economy. I used to tell myself, “I’ll think of something.” That may work in high school or college, but it does not work in business. Always recognize that worse can come to worst.
Thanks to W. Wilson, Sr., Welcome Group, LLC!
#13- Walk away
If I could speak to myself at anytime between 1984 and 2001 (I was manager of a large mental health agency) I would say “Walk away. You’ll never make any real money as long as you are working for someone else.” I walked away on 9/11/01 in reaction to the WTC bombings. I am truly sorry it took such a tragic event to trigger my leaving, but I’ve never been happier or more successful than I have been since that terrible day. I always understood that I was a job-creator vs an employee, someone who paid salaries vs drew a salary working for someone else. I now encourage my own employees to tell me if they have visions of further education or creating their own companies. As employees or future peer owners, I am their biggest ally. I can’t go back and speak to myself, but I can and do tell future entrepreneurs to cut the ties and take a risk. It’s how the future is created.
Thanks to Sam Beasley, Wealth and Well-Being!
#14- Don’t be frustrated if plans fail
It is great to make long term plans for your career and business, but don’t be frustrated if they don’t work out. Sometimes these plans fall apart because they are not the best path for you. You might need to try a few different things. There will be a few successes and even more failures, but you will learn from them all. And give yourself a break when things fail, because they are just pushing you out of your comfort zone into a place where beautiful things happen.
Thanks to Hasara Lay, Catexplorer!
#15- Set things up properly from the start
My best advice to my younger self would be to set things up properly from the start, even if that means additional cost and outsources. For me, this would have been things like creating the corporate entity on day one, keeping clean financials with a company credit card and not reconciling costs from my personal card, and creating a shared company login, not linked to my personal email. There are plenty of other examples of poor process that ended up costing me a lot more time and expense than doing it correctly from the start. To be fair to my younger self, I didn’t know what I didn’t know! So being part of a mastermind group or having an advisor might also be a good idea.
Thanks to Ryder Meehan, Upgrow!
#16- It’s okay to say no
I’d tell my younger entrepreneurial self it’s OK to say no! In fact, it’s healthy to not want to do every project, work with every client, and do everything. It’s normal! If we say yes too often, we’re giving in to our inner people-please which can do our mindset some serious damage.
Thanks to Liz Theresa
#17- Hold on till your vision becomes reality
My co-founder and I started CloserIQ in April of 2014. We’ve bootstrapped our team to more than 20 full-time employees and have remained 100% self-funded and growing rapidly. Here’s one thing I would say to my younger self: Swimming upstream against market norms and peers who doubt your vision can be very difficult, and requires perseverance. But when your business finally clicks and your vision starts to become reality, your achievements will feel magnified and you will see that your career has purpose.
Thanks to Jordan Wan, CloserIQ!
#18- Don’t be afraid to invest in knowledge
When you’re starting a business with little capital, it can be difficult to justify an investment in courses and programs. While there’s a lot of free information online, sometimes this information is free for a reason. You need to be willing to invest in paid courses so you can gain the knowledge that’s going to make you and your business stand out.
Thanks to Jacqueline Gilchrist, Mom Money Map!
#19- Avoid lifestyle creep
I’ve been an entrepreneur for over ten years now, and the biggest mistake I’ve made in my earlier days was succumbing to lifestyle creep. As my businesses continued to grow, my day to day personal expenses increased as well. I kept upgrading on apartments, cars, and toys. This was a grave mistake because it meant less money to re-invest into my business, and if my business was on a downturn, it would difficult to scale down my personal expenses as quickly. So what I would tell my younger self – prioritize on scaling your business, not on scaling your lifestyle.
Thanks to Mark Ortiz, ReviewingThis!
#20- Seek out advice and expertise
Time has been a very good teacher to me. Starting a business isn’t easy, but if I could go back in time and sit myself down, I’d emphasize how important it would be to seek out the advice and expertise of others. I’d start by telling myself not to get involved in trying to administer the business; hire a bookkeeper immediately so I could focus on revenue-generating activities. It’s important to understand how to delegate, and it’s something that can be overlooked in all the excitement and commotion of a new business. It allowed me to focus harder on what I can do for the business and taught me to utilize the talents of others. Alongside that, I’d tell myself to build a team of mentors who have already been down the path I was going. Learning from mentors allowed me to be able to minimize mistakes and fast forward my company’s growth. Seek out mentors, embrace their knowledge, and delegate to your team early; these tips are indispensable to any business.
Thanks to Mike Thorne, JUSTJUNK!
#21- Share your smarts
Go on record educating your clients and employees on the best moves to make. You are the most helpful when you share what you know and speak up for what’s right. When you believe in yourself, others will believe in you too! Even if the client or your colleagues don’t want to hear it, they will
respect you in the long run for sharing your smarts.
Thanks to Lorrie Thomas Ross, Web Marketing Therapy, Inc.!
#22- Do the opposite
If I had a time machine to go back 20 years, I would remind young Josh to buy straw hats in the winter…I would remind him that when everyone is running for the hills that you needs to do the opposite…and I would for sure tell him to never follow the trends….find out what everyone else is doing and do the opposite!
Thanks to Joshua A Scheinker, Scheinker Wealth Advisors!