If you could hop into a time machine, what would you tell your younger business self? What are the biggest lessons learned 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- Automate and delegate tasks
If I could reverse the time, I would tell my younger version that you are an entrepreneur, not a writer or a designer. You should automate and delegate such routine tasks as much as possible and focus on the tasks that can really move the needle such as planning and strategies. This way you can run your business more effectively. Plus, you'll have more time and freedom to do the things you love the most such as personal development, adventure, family, etc.
Thanks to JD Bhatala, Affiliate Income Mantra!
#2- Be open to work from anywhere
I wish I would have been a flexible employee and tech executive in my early years. I have learned the value of flexibility and the ability to set your focus inside and outside of the office because of our remote work model. Since the pandemic began, I have become a nomad CEO where I can work from anywhere around the world even on the road and on the plane handling the business with the same drive as I was in the office. If I had a chance, I'd remind my younger self that traditional work paths aren't necessarily the best and that success may come from unexpected places.
Thanks to Victoria Mendoza, Media Peanut!
#3- To be bold, ambitious, and persistence
If I had the opportunity to hop into a time machine, I would tell my younger business self to be bold, ambitious, and persistent. I would tell her to be as bold as she can be, and to push beyond what she thinks is possible. I would tell her to keep her ambitions high, and to be persistent through whatever challenges she may face because it will be well worth it in the long run.
Thanks to Becky Brown, ShoppingKim!
#4- It is ok to feel insecure
As young people we’re all a little guarded and afraid to admit when we feel like “not enough” to others, but as we age we realize that almost everyone experiences imposter syndrome and insecurity at some point in their lives. I think I could have had some really great conversations with friends and family back then that would have helped me feel better about those completely natural and normal insecurities. When we open up about those things, take the pressure off ourselves end up performing even better than before.
Thanks to John Li, Fig Loans!
#5- Learn time management
The first piece of advice I would tell my younger business self is to learn how to manage my time effectively. Throughout the years, I realized that our biggest asset is not our skills yet, intelligence or experience, instead, it is our time. Time is the currency that enables us to get what we want as business owners: money, skills, clients, etc. Learn how to manage your time, and I mean really managing it, not just writing down a to-do list and trying to stick to it. Time management is so much more than that, and there
are plenty of facts and techniques that go into it.
Thanks to James Crawford, DealDrop!
#5- Always be confident
I know it sounds cliché, but trust the process and always be confident in everything you do. That’s what I would tell my younger self, I’m a firm believer in, “everything happens for a reason”, and I believe everything for me has gone the way it was supposed to. I would just tell myself to stay on this path, I know it's hard right now, but in the end it will all be worth it. I would really try to make the point to stay confident, always believe in yourself and what you’re doing, but don’t become arrogant or cocky.
Thanks to Laura Fuentes, Infinity Dish!
#6- Be aggressive and deliberate
My advice to my younger self may seem blunt, but I'd say dig into the details, be aggressive, and deliberate in everything you do, whether you like the job or not. This is about building a work ethic that can withstand the natural flux in motivation we feel from time to time, and focusing on the details with that energy each and every time will move you forward faster than waiting for inspiration. We all have to do things we don't like, even in our dream job, so get used to working through those obstacles.
Thanks to Gates Little, altLINE Sobanco!
#7- Do your best and focus on your results
Worry more about doing a good job than impressing people. One of the big things wrong with business and entrepreneur culture is that it is often very shallow. People work so hard on projecting success that they often forget that actual success follows talent and hard work. Talent isn't something that is under your control but doing your best job is. If you have a reputation for being reliable, success will follow. Do your best job and focus on your results, not someone else's.
Thanks to Matthew Carter, Inc and Go!
#8- Invest more in stocks and real estate
I hope you know the stocks are going up, and I would like you to invest in particular stocks which eventually give out great pricing in the next five years. Please focus on your goals and lookout for people who see the potential in you; make them friends now. You will get through all the hardship right now. I want you to focus on learning your skills; learn as much as you want; everything will benefit you. Invest more and much more in stocks and real estate.
Thanks to Eliana Levine, FindPeopleEasy!
#9- Ask for what you want
When we’re young, we’re often too insecure about asking for the things we want most for fear of judgment and rejection. Once we get our feet wet and start to get some real workplace experience, we become more confident in what we ask for and comfortable with the possibility we’ll hear no. Who knows what potential opportunities await those that ask more often. I would tell my younger self to start unapologetically asking for what I want more often.
Thanks to Samuel Devyver, Easy Llama!
#10- It is okay to make mistakes
If I could hop into a time machine, I’d tell my insecure younger business self that it is okay to make mistakes, particularly when you’re starting on something that involves risks. There is nothing wrong in taking the road not taken, for if you’re obsessed enough to turn your passion around, you could make many people seek the road less traveled. Remember that the world never gives people things. People take things, and hence, it’s all about utilizing the opportunities that come your way.
Thanks to Peter King, Authority Builders!
#11- Appreciate and enjoy moments
I have been an entrepreneur for the past 3 years and was a technical contributor in SEO and digital marketing prior to building my own company. If I can tell my younger business self something, it's this: Don't forget to savor and enjoy the moments in the journey. It is so easy to get caught up with the hustle of building one's business. It is also important to have pauses and downtime to reflect on what matters, what you did well, what you need to improve, and if you need to switch gears or change directions.
Thanks to Devin Schumacher, SERP!
#12- Have a mission rather than a goal
If I could talk to my younger self, I would tell him to have a life mission instead of a life goal. There is nothing wrong with having goals, especially if they are idealistic and feasible, but in my case, I learned that you would eventually find yourself hitting a dead end when you set goals. You won’t know what to do next after fulfilling the plan, and from my experience, that’s harder to overcome than the process of achieving your
Thanks to Allan Stolc, Bankly!
#13- Use cloud computing
Should we have known that cloud computing would affect cybersecurity sooner? If I could tell my 20 something-year-old self to do something differently, it would be to prepare for cloud computing and the cybersecurity challenges that will come with it. All cybersecurity is turning toward cloud-based storage, systems, and applications. The days of everyone housing programs and data on physical drives are numbered because gigantic cloud services are able to provide much better protection against cyberattacks.
Thanks to Eric Florence, Security Tech!
#14- You cannot succeed unless you try
You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. Starting your own business can be scary; it means putting your reputation- and your money out there and at risk. It means facing the possibility that you might fail in front of family and friends, people who may have invested in your business. It can be easier and less scary not to do any of those things and just think and do more research. I would tell my younger self, be brave, your idea is excellent, and you just have to take that first step. You can't succeed unless you try.
Thanks to Paul Moody, ProMoverReviews!
#15- Perfection is not always needed
The digital world makes us crave and chase perfection, while the truth is we don’t always need it. Sometimes perfection is a luxury you cannot afford! While we go on and on with adjustments and iterations to give our works a perfect finishing, this slows down company growth. I wish I could hop onto a time machine and tell my younger self – “Perfecting and fine-tuning things won’t bring you some extra money.” I believe if I would just launch my plan and went with the flow, I could achieve unimaginable things.
Thanks to Adam Grant, Car Fuel Advisor!
#16- Be enthusiastic from the start
I am a lot more optimistic now than I was when I first started my business, which is why I would advise my younger self to be enthusiastic from the start. Optimistic people work more, perhaps because they can plainly see the goal they're going for. It's been proven that keeping a positive attitude boosts productivity and, as a result, makes you a better businessperson. I'll also tell my younger self that optimistic people are more committed to their goals, more successful in achieving their goals, than pessimistic ones.
Thanks to Leslie Radka, GreatPeopleSearch!
#17- Starting late is okay
As an entrepreneur, I was a late bloomer. My competitors in the market were young and had no problems adapting to advanced technologies. In my case, however, I thought that I wouldn't last and would eventually fail due to my lack of skills. That negative mindset kept lurking inside my head for too long while managing my business. Fortunately, I got reminded by a good mentor that there was no required age to start a business. He was right. If I had the opportunity to fly back in time, I should have told my younger self that starting late is okay.
Thanks to Marygrove Awnings, Marygrove Awnings!
#18- Follow your passion
Going back in time, I would encourage myself to take a break and keep enjoying nature. Nature is what lead me to find my business and develop my passion and love for birds. I was constantly caught up in pushing myself into industries that did not suit me, or that drained my wellbeing. As young teens we are pushed into e direction of safe and reliable jobs; however, as you get older you soon realize that no one is promised a job or a future. Living how you desire and following your passions!
Thanks to Garrett Hayes, Birdinghub!
19- Never stop dreaming
I would tell my younger self never to stop dreaming. When I was about to graduate from high school, my mom told me they might not be able to fund my college fees. I felt like my dream came to its dead-end. I stopped dreaming for a while and disconnected myself from the world. Until one day, my parents talked to me again to inform me that I could go to college. It was an eye-opener for me. Those who love and care for you will always find a way to help you achieve your goals.
Thanks to Jake Smith, Absolute Reg!
#20- Make efforts for better exposure
As a minority coming from a low-income background and family, I realize I limited what I was exposed to in my younger years. No one I knew at the time was what could be considered successful, making it hard to believe there was more in the cards for me. If I had a time machine, I would tell myself to make more of an effort to expose myself to people outside of my world; to find people doing bigger and better things, no matter how much it meant I had to leave my comfort zone.
Thanks to Ruben Gamez, SignWell!
#21- Never stop learning
Irrespective of how you start and the knowledge you already have in your life, never stop learning. There will always be someone who will be way more knowledgeable and successful compared to you. Don't feel belittled. Instead, interact with them and soak up their knowledge. The more you learn from peers and industry leaders, the better you mold your business. You can also make your competitors your acquaintances until you get the knowledge and ideas you need for your business.
Thanks to Zarina Bahadur, 123 Baby Box!
#22- Take a calculated risk
On a time-traveling trip, I would meet my younger self and tell him to take calculated risks. Fear of losing held me back from a lot of opportunities. I now realize that losing is just another experience. You learn from it and move on to the next challenge, equipped with more knowledge and experience. I don't want my younger self to turn into a daredevil or a gambler, but to understand the nature of risk and reward early in life. I believe understanding the risk-reward tradeoff is an art, and every entrepreneur should master it.
Thanks to Ryan Montgomery, Become!
#23- Networking is the key
I want to tell my younger self, ‘if you are not networking, you are not working!'. People create opportunities, and networking helps discover those people. Therefore, my advice would be to intentionally broaden and maintain a professional network. The network I have developed in the past few years has helped grow my business exponentially. I can only imagine where my business would have stood had I started networking early. My contact list is an asset for my business that has saved time, effort, and money. And I can not stress enough over its importance to my younger self.
Thanks to Charles Cridland, YourParkingSpace!
#24- Start the company earlier
One of the most difficult decisions for young entrepreneurs is when to start their business. It is usually a gamble, and it can be hard to know when the time is right. The best advice I could give myself would be to start my company earlier. I had been in the corporate world for 10 years before I started my first company. The whole experience was very valuable in teaching me how to do things right and what not to do, but I wish I had started my first company sooner.
Thanks to Sheila Eugenio, MediaMentions!
#25- Choose the right battles
As young entrepreneurs, we want to win the world and make an impact that enables us to rewrite entrepreneurial history. Although these thoughts provide us with the right kind of ambition, they also drain us of energy. So one lesson I would teach my younger self is to choose every battle wisely by always committing our strengths to those that will make a real impact. And more importantly, to those that will only fuel our pride and bring about very little or no change otherwise.
Thanks to Larissa Pickens, Everfumed!
#26- Don’t stand in your own way
I wasted a lot of time waiting for validation from others. As the tech industry is quite crowded and competitive, the temptation to join a job was difficult to ignore. It gets worse if you have imposter syndrome. I would suggest my younger self take a leap of faith. Even if the business is crowded, try to stand out instead of not even taking a shot. Starting earlier means you still get to go back to your 9-to-5 life if your business fails. Standing in your own way as an obstacle means you are keeping yourself from trying all your career options.
Thanks to Andreas Grant, Networks Hardware!
#27- Don't give up hope
Don’t give up. Starting your own business is challenging. We’re mainly bootstrapped, which has its benefits but also means we’re relying on family, friends, and ourselves to make sure we use that money carefully. If I could go back in time, I would reassure myself that we have a fantastic business idea but there are going to be bumps in the road. Those bumps aren’t a sign to give up, but to preserve to the other side where success is waiting.
Thanks to Benjamin Hyman, Revival Rugs!
#28- Always plan for the worst
I have been managing my own business for several years now. And there was a lot I learned that I wished my younger self knew. If I could talk to my younger self, one of the things I would tell myself is to prepare and plan for the worst at all times. The happenings of the past years proved that crisis can indeed strike our businesses at any time. But with proper preparation and planning, it will be easier for us to respond to unexpected challenges effectively and adapt to whatever situation we are faced with.
Thanks to Darryl Higgins, Athlete Desk!
#29- Plan finances and build relationships
If I could hop into a time machine, I would tell my younger business self to be more patient and to focus on building strong relationships with clients, because those are the foundations of a successful business. I would also advise him to learn more about financial planning and investment strategies so that he can make sound decisions when it comes to his business' money.
Thanks to John Lee, Lucky Bobbleheads!
#30- Hire the right people
One thing I would tell/advise my younger self is that the right people make everything. I would tell myself that hiring the right employee is the key to developing a strong company culture as the business runs and grows. While there is no easy way to be sure that a new hire does a good job for a company, there are some qualities that an ideal employee/candidate should possess, like work ethic, social intelligence, dependency, and adaptability.
Thanks to Lyle Florez, EasypeopleSearch!