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- Follow your intuition
Believe and follow your intuition. Don’t give everything just for everyone. Conquer your challenge by thinking of your maturity. Every success that I achieve, the first thing I will remember is who I am before. Looking back at my younger age, I have lots of what if’s about my dream, and that is my way of being better in the future. Life is too short to do what your heart and mind love. Not every day is going to be joyful, you may face bumps in the road, but it’s just only to attest to your ability and always believe in yourself, and strive harder to be successful.
Thanks to Dmitriy Bobriakov, Solwiser!
#2- Take a chill pill and rest
When I started out, I was really hot-blooded as I should be, always ready to put in everything I have in my business. It’s a good move that I honestly miss this day since the days then were bearable; no recession or insane inflation. One thing I did fail to do was get adequate rest. So if I ever get to hop on a time machine and go back to my younger business self, I would tell her to take a chill pill and rest adequately. Rest is also a catalyst for productivity in business and I learned that the hard way.
Thanks to Charmaine Chan, IceSword!
#3- Focus on transferable value
Focus on creating lasting, transferable value in the business in keeping with your values. Too often, we business owners focus on the top and bottom line. We miss the fact that you can have income but no transferable value. When it comes time to move on to our next adventure and exit the business, our dreams of selling it for a handsome return are quashed. The business isn't transferable. It won't sell. If however, we focus on driving value, profitability comes with it.
Thanks to Martha Sullivan, Provenance Hill Consulting, LLC!
#4- To develop their mindset
Definitely, we would love to tell from our proven experience to inspire our younger business selves to develop their mindset because we know how challenging it is to start from scratch. We learned things the hard way. Hopefully, our experience will make their way a little easier. Just like what Jonathan always says, our top advice to any young business entrepreneur is a mindset around marketing. The first two rules in marketing
are to let everyone know what you do and that you're great at it.
Thanks to Jonathan Lautermilch, Smart Shark!
#5- Compare yourself to others
Compare yourself to others – if and when it helps you become a stronger professional. While the common advice I heard growing up was to avoid comparing yourself to others, I think it’s a very helpful tool that can help you grow professionally when used correctly. That doesn’t mean looking at someone with burning envy or feelings of complete inadequacy, but working to attain the professional experiences, abilities, and attitudes you admire in others.
Thanks to Fernando Lopez, Circuit!
#6- Build a business that you love
My advice would be to only build a business in something that you truly love. You are going to invest every spare minute of your time into this venture, and if you don’t enjoy your concept (or the industry you are moving into) then you will very quickly get sick of the business and give up. Even if the idea isn’t the most traditional of businesses, if it is something that you know will bring you joy, then you should absolutely pursue it!
Thanks to Elijah Miller, RC Ride On Cars!
#7- Experience matters the most
A valuable lesson I have gained all these years is the difference between theory and practice. I would remind my younger self that experience in climbing the business ladder matters the most. Initially, My mindset was to clock in more than a day's work for maximum growth. Noting the mistakes over here made me realize I could learn much from them.* Analysis of my daily work-life patterns* and how to improve has brought me this far. An early realization of this direction would have helped more.
Thanks to Matt Gillman, SMB Compass!
#8- Insert joy into what you are doing
If I could tell my younger business self anything, it would be to BREATHE. ENJOY THE RIDE, A PANDEMIC IS COMING. No, but really, I would tell my younger self that the business that you think you are creating, is not the business you will end up in within 5 years. Try things, have fun, and enjoy the creativity. Talk to your community, see what they need, and make it. Hire earlier, hire more. Find what you are good at and lean into it. Be patient, and truly, insert joy into what you are doing, that is your sweet spot.
Thanks to Phoebe Sherman, Girl Gang Craft!
#9- Pursue your passion
Most of us start out in business assuming that success is measured by wealth acquisition. But this is not the case at all. Success is measured by contentment. Too many of us spend all our time trying to gain more and more wealth, enough never seems to be enough. By chasing wealth we miss out on the things that really matter, health, family, and happiness. I would tell myself to pursue my passion. Identify what makes you happy and follow every avenue to turn that passion into a means of sustaining yourself.
Thanks to Colin Toh, Headphonesty!
#10- To surround yourself with ambitious personalities
Surround yourself with the best people. That’s what I’d tell myself. The kind of people I had around are the people that would influence what I did and my success. The best kind of people doesn’t mean people who think like me, in fact, the more different they think the better, but people who have mine and my business's best interests at heart and are helping me achieve success.
Thanks to Paul Bowley, Abbeycare Group!
#11- To stop trying to multitask
One thing I would love to say to my younger business self is to stop trying to multitask. Multitasking does not help productivity, and when I was starting out my business I had so much to do on a daily basis that I thought doing them all as quickly as possible would be the best way to go about tasks. However, I couldn’t be more wrong, a lot of the time I’d have to redo work as I wasn’t putting 100% of my effort into each task. Always put 100% of your effort into one job instead of trying to split your effort into multiple.
Thanks to Joseph Greene, Trinidad Birding!
#12- To increase knowledge in different areas
If I could get a chance to hop into a time machine, I would suggest that they must increase their knowledge about at least two or three business areas to ensure a steady flow of income every month. Overreliance on a single source of business income can backfire. Learning more about the latest tools and technologies, collaborating with famous business tycoons, and increasing business skills are some essential activities they must perform to sustain longer in the business.
Thanks to Karthik Manoharan, WeCodee Innovations Pvt. Ltd!
#13- Stop overthinking and start implementing
The advice I would like to give my younger self is not to spend too much time thinking. If you have any idea or plan, don't waste time and put it into action. You don’t always have to care about success but simply give it your 100 percent. Don’t overthink how you will do it or if you’ll succeed. Simply organize a plan and give your all to make it happen. Let's be more proactive as well. Until you start making it happen, it's just an idea. It is simply a seed waiting to be planted, and you have to take the first step yourself.
Thanks to Tim Schroeder, Starting a Blog!
#14- Share your vision with people
If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger business self how important it is to share your vision with the people you are working with. When you are a CEO or founder, you will spend a lot of time thinking about your business's long-term goals and how to achieve them. It is easy to forget to properly convey these to your employees. Take some time to explain where you see the business going. Keep your employees updated on any changes to your long-term goals. You cannot expect your employees to help you achieve your overall vision if they don't know what this is.
Thanks to Loredo Rucchin, Jukebox Print!
#15- To be more persistent
If I would hop into a time machine I would tell myself to be more persistent and try to motivate myself to develop a never give up attitude. But, if I persistently work towards my goal, I will eventually get there and see the results of it. You need to understand that everyone has a different path to success. Everyone has his own unique way of doing things. But, the main thing to remember is to keep going forward. You need to learn from the mistakes that you've made. Don't ever give up.
Thanks to Reggie Burton, Thunderbot!
#16- Conduct market research
I started my content writing agency ten years ago. When I started my venture, I was unaware of the fact that business owners must conduct thorough and in-depth market research before delving deep into business tactics. Therefore, if I get a chance to hop in a time machine and travel back in time to give my younger business self a piece of advice, the most valuable advice would be to conduct market research before starting your business venture.
Thanks to Radhika Gupta, One Digital Land!
#17- To master the art of delegation
If I could meet my younger business self, I would tell her to master the art of efficient delegation and focus on only core functions. New entrepreneurs often overlook the importance of delegating work in an SMB as they struggle with low capital and try to do everything themselves. As an experienced female entrepreneur, I would advise her not to hesitate to take risks with innovative ideas, irrespective of loads of questions on female professionalism.
Thanks to Rakhi Oswal, Edrio!
#18- Acknowledge your fears and learn from them
I would tell my younger business self that it's okay to be afraid. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but I think it's important to acknowledge your fears and learn from them. When you're young, you have a lot of energy and you want to take on the world. But you don't always have the experience to know how to do that in a way that will make you successful. So it's natural to be scared sometimes when trying something new. The trick is: don't let yourself get paralyzed by fear. Instead, use your fears as a guide for what steps are worth taking and which ones aren't worth taking.
Thanks to Patricia Jones, Neutypechic!
#19- To have more confidence in my own instincts
I would tell my younger self to have more confidence in my own instincts. I was always such a people pleaser, and I think that's why I've had so many opportunities—but it's also why I missed out on so many great opportunities. When you're young, you think the way to succeed is by doing everything right, but the truth is that if you do everything right, you'll never be able to do anything wrong. So when you get older and start making your own decisions, don't worry about what other people will think about them. Just do what feels right to you and trust yourself!
Thanks to Rengie Arnejo Wisper, Ever Wallpaper!
#20- To focus on your journey
If I could truly hop into a time machine and talk to my younger self, I would tell him not to worry about what other businesses are doing, and to focus on his own path and journey, because the entrepreneurial idea that he has is unique, and is something that will help others in a completely different way. Being preoccupied with other businesses and how they operate will only seed doubts into his mind, that he will then have to overcome!
Thanks to Brandon Li, With Power!
#21- Focus on compounding work
A little bit every day is better than a lot once in a while. I wish someone had told me a long time ago how compounding works. How undertaking small & easily achievable goals consistently over time is like magic. I understand that when we are discussing time, rather than currency. There is no ‘interest' rate. But there is a gain in efficiency as you get more and more use to working in small time blocks. There is also a reduction in fear & the resulting procrastination when not leaving tasks alone for long periods of time.
Thanks to David Klein, Kleins Organic!
#22- Start now, take risks
One thing I wish I did when I was younger was to start earlier. To invest early and embrace the ambition I had rather than sitting on my hands. Often as young people, we are hesitant to follow through with the ideas that define us. I wish I had started Lantech earlier and taken the initiative earlier. If you are a young person, take a risk on yourself, on your ideas. If you try to enact your dreams early and they don’t work, you still have time to start again.
Thanks to Peter Strahan, Lantech!
#23- Understand the power of feedback loops
A feedback loop is a component of a system that uses some of the system's output as input for subsequent actions. In other words, this is the mechanism that underpins long-term cause-and-effect relationships. Because we fail to grasp exponential growth, we don't understand that the results we get today don't come from today's work, they came from the work we did 1-3 years ago! Because we don't instantly see the benefits of our actions, we give up or find a new shiny object, and the pattern repeats.
Thanks to Marc Arbones, Altcoins Mastery!
#24- It's okay to make mistakes
If I had the chance to speak to my younger business self I would remind myself that it’s okay to make mistakes. Not all ideas are good ideas. Sometimes I have believed that my ideas are truly the greatest only to experience them fail or backfire and this is perfectly fine. In fact, I would always encourage first-time business owners to make mistakes where they can, it is one of the best and most authentic learning experiences that you will ever come across.
Thanks to Morgan Lilker, Watches of Today!
#25- Stop mourning and live in the present
The concept of a time machine is rather exciting for an experienced business owner. I would use the technology to go back and ease the fears of my younger self. Overthinking and being anxious about the future can kill any ambitions. It was evident early in my career. I mourned the loss of business decisions before they were performed. This level of extremism paid off at times. My younger business self would be bombarded with advice. About taking things slow and not worrying about the future.
Thanks to Simon Bacher, Ling App!
#26- To follow your passion
If I could meet my younger self, I would tell them to follow their passion. I wasted a lot of time going for profitable or easy ideas. I had my successes and failures. But what I most regret is not following my passion sooner. I faced a lot of challenges on my journey, and so does every other entrepreneur. I almost gave up hope. If I had followed the ideas I was most enthusiastic about, it would've given me that boost to make it through each day. I would push my younger self towards whatever made me happy instead of chasing success and money.
Thanks to Oliver Hudson, Word Finder!
#27- Balance confidence in yourself with humility
As you get older and interact with more people, you are going to be exposed to lots of different and differing opinions. In and of itself, that's pretty awesome. But don't ever let the fact that others have points of view that aren't the same as yours make you think that your perspective is less worthy or wrong. Balance confidence in yourself with humility and openness to learning, and you'll do amazing things… and maybe a bit sooner than I did.
Thanks to Christopher Spanier, Carpe Diem Consulting Group!
#28- Focus on building relationships
Focus on building relationships one at a time with people in your industry or those who share similar audiences as you. Invite them for coffee (virtually over Zoom is great if you're remote) and get to know what their business is all about. They'll naturally ask about yours, too. When you take the time to make other people feel truly valued, they're more willing to share your name with people in their network.
Thanks to Jamie Lynn, Sol Solutions + Co.!
#29- Invest in marketing
I have started two different businesses since I graduated college, and both did not pick. The reason was that I really didn't value marketing. I viewed it as something that people do when they have money left lying around that they can waste. But this is not the case. It is marketing that gets your business out there. Spending money on marketing is an investment and not an expense. This is the most valuable lesson that I would tell my younger business self. That business relies on marketing.
Thanks to Barbell Jobs, Lydia Mwangi!
#30- Takeout time to relax
I would tell my younger self to take more time to care for myself. When you are an entrepreneur, it is easy to be hyper-focused on your career, but it is essential to let yourself relax and do the things you enjoy. Take more time to spend with your family and friends. Spend time in nature, take that vacation, and remember to sit back and enjoy the small things. Time is the one thing we have a finite amount of, so make sure you use more of that time for personal connections.
Thanks to Sumeer Kaur, Lashkaraa!