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- To take a day off
Nowadays, I have a great work-life balance (most of the time), but in my early days, the idea of taking even one day off felt almost sacrilegious. Everything felt so urgent back then, and I still recall the first time I made myself take a weekend off. Eventually, I realized that while there’s value in working hard, it’s just as crucial to devote time to resting and recharging. It’s obvious in hindsight, but my younger business self simply didn’t have the discipline to disconnect.
Thanks to Andres Zuleta, Boutique Explorer!
#2- To surround yourself with smart & ambitious personalities
I think it is very important to surround yourself with smart and ambitious personalities that you can learn from. If possible, identify a mentor that can help you grow your career. Having worked in media and communications for 30 years both in a corporate role as well as an entrepreneur it is very important to listen so you are able to learn and understand your audience. Always keep an open mind because the best ideas may at first seem strange or unachievable and yet these are the ones that may be life changing, innovative and successful. Most importantly Enjoy the Journey.
Thanks to Luis Gonzalez, CCOM Group Inc!
#3- To go where your heart tells you
I would say to go where your heart tells you — and when you see it taking you on a certain direction — work very hard and row like a maniac. Also, there are some self-absorbed people out there. You can't win with them. Usually, you can learn from them. These people will usually balance out that aspect of their personality with skills, but don't assume for a second, that they are on your side. And lastly, life is like a music piece. The goal is not to get to the end but to be dancing all along.
Thanks to Jonathan Friedman, Demostack!
#4- To always think outside the box
I would tell myself that, to succeed, always think outside the box but turn to the data to make sure you’re staying within the realm of possibility. Taking calculated risks are a necessity in the increasingly competitive, ever-evolving business world we now work in, but they’re just that.—calculated. As long as you have research and data backing you, there’s no reason an idea can’t become a decision that could very well be your next great venture.
Thanks to Greg Gillman, MuteSix!
#5- Actionable tips on how to build a brand
When face-to-face with my younger self, I would have quite a few tips on how to be a successful entrepreneur. But, at the top of my list, would be actionable tips on how to build a brand. When it comes to building your brand, one of the most important strategies a company can implement is establishing themselves as an expert in their field. Begin networking like crazy. Join discussion groups and post on boards within your niche. Begin submitting guest posts to high-traffic sites and participating in roundup articles where you will be able to provide a quote and receive a backlink.
Thanks to Ryan Rottman, OSDB Sports!
#6- To have a vision and find the right people
Wherever one is on the entrepreneurial journey, harnessing a vision for the future is essential. I would tell my younger self to spend more time getting clear on a vision & start charting the path to achieving it. Although the journey comes with many beneficial lessons, having a vision helps you stay focused on what truly matters. It is a guiding light while facing any obstacles or doubts. Once this vision is clear, keep the company of people who inspire you rather than those who plant seeds of doubt in your mind.
Thanks to Igal Rubinshtein, Home Essentials Direct!
#7- That failing isn't a failure
I would tell my younger business self to not feel so dejected by failure. For instance, I wish I had taken losing an investor or other business-related road bumps as a sign that things simply needed to pivot. These inevitable hiccups that happen to every entrepreneur are what makes a business better and stronger in the long run, and makes you more resilient as a business owner.
Thanks to Eric Elggren, Andar!
#8- To have patience and save yourself from trouble
I was always impatient with everything, large or small, and I wanted things to happen as quickly as possible. When I wanted anything, I needed it right away. If I wanted to do something, I would have done it regardless of the consequences. And this has gotten me into a lot of problems in the past. So, if I had the chance to travel back in time and give advice to my younger self, I would tell him about all the mistakes I've made as a result of my impatience, and how he should cease behaving this way to avoid trouble.
Thanks to Ankit Kaul, Excel Trick!
#9- To keep things simple and focus
If I could hop into a time machine, I would tell my younger business self to keep things simple and focus on what's important. In the early stages of a business, it's easy to get caught up in distractions and lose sight of your goals. Develop a thick skin and learn how to take rejection in stride. I would also tell myself to be more patient and think long-term; oftentimes the biggest successes take time and hard work to achieve.
Thanks to Ryan Fyfe, Insightful Inc!
#10- To seek out mentorship
If I could hop into a time machine, I would advise myself to get a mentor. One of the biggest thrills in entrepreneurship is becoming your own boss. You no longer answer to anyone and your business will rise or fall on your decisions. While this is usually a positive, it’s nice to have someone to use as a sounding board for big decisions; Mentorship fills this gap. I have started my business on my own but I think a mentor with experience in the business world might have helped me a lot. A person who can point to the pitfalls so you can avoid them.
Thanks to Laura Jimenez, ISHINE365!
#11- To focus more on the present & not future
If I could hop into a time machine, I would probably tell myself that I need to focus more on the present and not so much on the future. As a CEO, it can be easy to get caught up in thinking about how you can always grow your business and become more successful. However, I always seem to miss the smaller moments and do not get to fully enjoy them because I am focused on bigger, better things. We are always looking for the next big thing, and we can then end up with a lot of regret.
Thanks to Deepak Tailor, Latest Free Stuff!
#12- To put myself first
All throughout my early adult life, I tried to make it so my RV lifestyle fit around my work life instead of having my work life adhere to my RV lifestyle. So what I would tell my younger business self is to put myself first. If I had put myself first, I would’ve stopped trying to find jobs that accommodate my lifestyle and started work on my own business that would surround my lifestyle. Therefore, I would get to where I am today sooner.
Thanks to Jessica Lauren Vine, RV Idiots!
#13- To stay unconventional
Starting a business is a nerve-wrecking threshold in one’s life. And it doesn’t come too quick. It takes so much from a person to gather the courage and take risks. And so often, it is these risks that make them the star. If there’s one thing I’d tell my younger business self is to believe. Believe in yourself and don’t shy away from being unconventional. You won’t ever know what your outcome is going to be. Even with a conventional idea, you can easily fail.
Thanks to Erin Mastopietro, Dope Dog!
#14- To remain humble and stick to your roots
You should remain humble and stick to your roots. Having that self-discipline will help you stay in the business world for a long time. One should have the capability to digest the success and shouldn’t be overpowered by it. You can use it as a confidence boost, but don’t boost your ego with it. Even though you become successful, don’t get set into a comfort zone. Keep working hard and maintain the same dedication.
Thanks to Erin LaCkore, LaCkore Couture!
#15- To stop over-thinking
I wasted so much time working for other people instead of following my heart and doing what I wanted and needed to for the sake of sanity, that’s I’d simply tell my younger self to stop over-thinking, quit jibber-jabbering about what I do want to do, and commit to the future that you actually want. Time is all we have, so don’t waste it talking, make the most of it by actually doing what you say you’re going to do.
Thanks to Robert Green, Price of Meat!
#16- To maintain good health
It is important to maintain good health because it will impact all areas of your life. When I was younger and my business was booming, there were many days when 15 hours/day seemed like the right amount of work for me but in reality, this caused damage to my work due to my bad health later. So, I’d suggest my younger self ensure that the biggest investment in life is to remain on being healthy as it will negatively impact all areas of one’s life.
Thanks to Beth Hawkes, Nurse Code!
#17- Don't waste time overthinking
Don't waste time overthinking about a single candidate. Though it’s an important aspect of your overall business, learn to listen to your intuition. If the candidate is competent, hire them. Similarly, you should be able to make the harsh decision to let certain employees go, as difficult as it might be. You need to understand that people are amazing if given the right opportunities.
Thanks to Adit Jain, Leena AI!
#18- To always put 100% effort
If I could talk to my younger business self I would tell him to always put 100% of his effort into one thing, instead of dividing his effort between many different things. I learned the hard way that if you have a couple of assignments on the go at the same time, you may finish them quicker, but they won’t be the best work that you could’ve completed. I know that if I had focused more of my time on one thing instead of dividing it out, I could’ve gotten to where I am today much sooner.
Thanks to Joseph Greene, Trinidadbirding.com!
#19- To stay relentless
Do the little things well and always go the extra mile. Respect all the powerful connections you make, build rapport with intention and remember you don’t decide who is powerful – even a janitor can be instrumental in your success. Greatness is a mindset and you can train winning habits that lead to millions of dollars for you and your team”. Stay smart. Stay curious. Stay powerful.
Thanks to Joy Teddy, Analog Teams!
#20- To shed your introverted excuses
If I could write a letter to my 22-year-old self, the first thing I would say is that you need to shed your introverted excuses and develop your social skills by learning how to sell in person, face-to-face. You can accomplish this by simply putting yourself out there more often and going out to meet new people as much as you can because while these experiences may sound trivial now, they will prove to be some of the greatest investments you ever make in your life.
Thanks to Mila Garcia, iPaydayLoans!
#21- To focus on the big picture
I would tell them to focus on the big picture. I wasted too much of my early career days looking for short-term monetary profits. I would go for deals and campaigns that would reward me with instant money instead of building a solid foundation for my business. That’s not how I should have done things. I would tell my younger self to take risks and go for things that would help me in the long run. I would advise them to think ahead of the game.
Thanks to Kurt Walker, Mill City Home Buyers!
#22- Learn to sell face-to-face
First, stop drinking so much. Develop sophisticated social skills. Next, drop your introverted excuses and learn to sell in person, face- to-face. It's the biggest skill that anyone can develop at any age. The earlier you use it, the faster you will become rich, find the right partner, be an amazing conversationalist, and master your impeccable social skills. Third, you need to stop working for money and start working for experience. Find the most successful person who shares your ethics and morals.
Thanks to Maria Saenz, Fast Title Loans!
#23- To create value for others
Today, I understand the law of reciprocity, but I didn’t understand it when I was younger. I would elaborate on the benefits of bringing value to the people you want to learn from. If I could go back to my first day creating my real estate business, I would surely identify the top salespeople & managers I cherished the most. Then I would cover weekends for them when they required additional help. You squeeze time and make a successful career by getting the right people vested in you.
Thanks to Madilyn Hill, True Person Finder!
#24- To master networking and marketing
Networking mindset, which I have grown in the past 3 years and has been invaluable in developing my business from 6 figures to multiple 7 figures. It has been essential that I have joined numerous masterminds to grow a stronger network and keep driving it. Another advice I would give is to master marketing basics, including Facebook advertising, direct response marketing, copywriting & sales funnels. Anyone can grow an impactful, profitable, & successful business with marketing and networking alone.
Thanks to Stella Cooper, Payday Loans UK!
#25- Don't be afraid to follow your instinct
I would tell him that you will meet many skilled and experienced people from different fields along the journey of your career. Of course, their learnings are advice to you, but it doesn't mean that you will fail too if they have failed. Because two people's way of doing things and thinking is never the same, so don't be scared to follow your heart. I will tell him to learn from every mistake made. Things will fall into place when the time is right, so be patient and not frustrated.
Thanks to Rahul Vij, Webspero Solutions!
#26- To have perseverance
To have perseverance, be more focused, not waste money on expensive cars rather drive a simple entry-level car for business and invest the extra money into the business. Listen to the elders when they talk about business and their failures. Do one thing every day towards your power goal. I also tell myself that sometimes no matter how hard you work, someone may decide you are expendable because you make too much, so take a vacation.
Thanks to Tracy Acker, GetPaydayLoan!
#27- To just be you
Sometimes we follow a trajectory because it's what's expected of us or even because it's a safe choice. But safe doesn't necessarily mean right. Just because the majority of your graduating class uses their finance degrees to become financial planners doesn't mean you have to do the same thing with the same degree. Creative fields benefit from finance degrees too and following your heart toward the career that brings a smile to your face every morning is worth paying attention to.
Thanks to Erin Banta, Pepper Home!
#28- To invest while you’re young
I would tell my younger business self to invest while you’re young. Investing while you’re young helps build your financial literacy. Knowing when, how, and where to invest your money is a valuable asset that will serve you well for the rest of your life. The sooner one starts investing money into financial plans, shares, or property, the better. The younger you are the more time you’ll have to educate yourself on best practices to set you up for future success and wealth.
Thanks to Ray Leon, Pet Insurance Review!
#29- To be a little kinder to myself
To be a little kinder to myself. As much as I love what I do, I can’t deny that I had to overcome plenty of challenges and gain a little more courage to get to where I am today and that wasn’t an easy journey to take. I think that it’s important for all of us to be kind to ourselves because it not only gives us comfort but also motivates us to grow as people. I believe that giving ourselves this reminder once in a while would make even the hardest of times easier to power through.
Thanks to Simon Elkjær, avXperten.no!
#30- To start small and gradually build
It took me a long time to get to this stage. So, I'd like to give some advice to my younger self. Start small and gradually build up your investment portfolio. You should also focus on acquiring assets rather than liabilities. You'd get a tremendous return on your tiny investment. Because the days of investing are just around the corner, now is the time to get started. Another thing I'll tell is not to waste time that you will need in the future; instead, preserve it like you would money. Investing a small amount of time and money now will profitable in the long run.
Thanks to Hannah Dworkin, USScrapYard!