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- Be surrounded by business owners
If I were to hop in a time machine and meet my younger business self I'd have some very interesting conversations. The main piece of advice that I would give him would be to surround himself with business owners and influences that are aligned with the same values and ethics. The younger version of me had business influences around him but it always felt incongruent with who he was because they weren't aligned with him. He felt there was something wrong with him, whereas, it was really his heart guiding him to the right tribe. The current me has finally found that tribe in the last few years.
Thanks to Sebastian Jania, Ontario Property Buyers!
#2- Gather more capital
You'll need more capital! I'd advise my younger self to stockpile cash to fuel the start of the business. When you start a business on a shoestring budget, it makes everything exponentially more difficult. Because one mistake can put you out of business. When you have enough money, you can afford the inevitable process of trial and error I'd make certain I had a reliable source of money coming in as I built the business. Building a business while working a full-time job isn't easy. But there is a time during the week when most of us can swap out leisure for creating the future we want.
Thanks to Scott Lieberman, Touchdown Money!
#3- Cultivate inner confidence
I’d encourage myself to cultivate a deep sense of inner confidence and courage. Starting a business requires a level of vulnerability and risk-taking that can be daunting. However, I now know that taking calculated risks is essential for growth and success. At the same time, I would remind my younger self that failure is not the end of the road. I would urge myself to embrace the mindset of “failing forward,” which means using setbacks and mistakes as opportunities to refine my approach, learn from my experiences, and ultimately move closer to achieving my goals.
Thanks to Ashley Graham, The Conscious Publicist!
#4- Don't let fear of failing hold you back
I would tell my younger self not to let the fear of failing hold me back. It's natural to be afraid and to worry about what might happen if things don't go as planned. Failing is part of the process. However, fear is a reaction, and courage is a decision. It's your choice to rise above your fears, embrace the challenges that come your way, and use your setbacks as stepping stones. You have within you incredible strength, resilience, and determination. Choose courage every single day. You won’t regret it.
Thanks to Mandy Cordia, The Kindness Cause!
#5- Focus on your mission
I’ve learned that it is incredibly important to stay completely focused on your company’s mission in the early stages of being a startup. Getting caught up in day-to-day challenges like fundraising, finding the best people to join your team, and gaining initial momentum is easy but it’s also important to keep your eyes on the bigger picture — the vision that drives your company. If I could go back and talk to my younger self, I would tell her to remember that every challenge, no matter how pressing, should be approached with the company mission in mind.
Thanks to Dr. Kira Radinsky, Diagnostic Robotics!
#6- See the world
Travel!!! To really train your eye you must see the world. Go to Venice, Florence, and Paris, walk down the street, and you'll learn more than at any design school. Not everyone comes back a master of the Renaissance, but something sticks. That is my advice and exactly what I did. I've been traveling all over the world since my parents first took me to Sicily when I was 14 yrs old. It instilled in me a lifelong passion for travel, food, design, art, and nature which ultimately led me to the fields of Provence where my passion for design, art, and flowers became the inspiration for my business.
Thanks to Lisa Fontanarosa, Lisa Fontanarosa Collection!
#8- Work smarter, not harder
If I could hop into a time machine and give my younger self a piece of advice, it would be to “work smarter, not harder.” Although it might not be easy at the beginning, learning to delegate certain tasks is essential for any successful entrepreneur or business owner. That way you will be able to make the most of your own time by concentrating on fewer specific tasks – the ones that will lead to the biggest payout. I definitely wish I had learned to delegate jobs much sooner.
Thanks to Patricia Palacios, España Guide!
#9- Remember that you are unique
I would tell my younger business self that there will always be other people that do the same or something very similar to what you do for a living, but ONLY YOU can do it, how you do it. No one else can. Your signature, your special touch, your twist, is what makes your business like no one else's. And that right there is what will make all potential or existing hurdles disappear. The Sky's the limit. Remember this if and when you feel discouraged in regard to your business.
Thanks to Charlene Lazewski, Charlene & Co. Media!
#10- Build your portfolio
Build your portfolio as much as possible. To break into any industry, companies need to gain a better understanding of their work experience within it. If you're a writer, start blogging. If you're a photographer, start taking lifestyle photos and posting them on social media. When you come across a job that catches your eye, you have all of this content that can be shown to the hiring manager. This sets you up for success when applying and improves your overall skill level.
Thanks to Christy Pyrz, Paradigm Peptides!
#11- Prioritize personal development
My first piece of advice would be to prioritize personal development. Your company will only grow in strength and stability if you do. In combination with that, surround yourself with really smart people: within the company, that means not being afraid to take on people smarter than you, but who are so inspired by the vision, they will share the lead as the company grows. Outside, it means reaching out to other entrepreneurs who know more than you, have experienced more than you, and soaking up their wisdom.
Thanks to Jan Cavelle, Freelancer!
#12- Don't over-schedule yourself
I would tell myself to stop looking without and begin to look from within, to stop people pleasing, even my clients. I would tell her it's ok not to pick up a client's call immediately just so they are impressed by me. It's acceptable to call them back when it is a better time for me. I matter too! I am not a victim of anything, including choosing clients that are the right fit, scheduling time for respite, not just work, and not over-scheduling myself. Being engaged with my life, an active participant rather than a spectator has taken my business and my life places I never dreamed.
Thanks to Alise Saunders, Tales From An Untamed Soul!
#13- Running a business is about strategies
I would tell my younger self that working all hours is not a measure of success. What is a measure of success is happily running a business that does not come at the expense of your personal life. That running a business is about strategies. Work out what your business needs to move it forward and then hire the experts to do it. Block out time in your diary on a weekly basis when you disconnect and do something for yourself. Look after yourself mentally and physically or you will burn out.
Thanks to Parag Prasad, The Business Growth Agency!
#14- Enjoy the journey itself
This would have to be: don’t be so obsessed with the destination (and accomplishing the goal) that you don’t enjoy the journey itself. I’ve had times in my life where I have been so focused on getting to the next step, next goal, next accomplishment, next something… that I missed the best part: the journey itself. I wish I knew back then that overcoming adversity and setbacks during the journey is the most valuable part of life. Happiness is not just about the destination, it's about the journey and the growth experienced on the way.
Thanks to Dominic Forth, The TV Bookers!
#15- Prioritize your business instincts
If I could travel back in time, I would strongly advocate for prioritizing my business instincts over rigid regulations and metrics. I would propose embracing new technologies and emerging opportunities ahead of the curve, as today's landscape is rife with discussions and controversies surrounding transformative elements like chat GPT that have the potential to reshape various sectors. Additionally, never underestimate the significance of networking, both within and beyond the industry. As a budding entrepreneur, it is easy to neglect the enduring value of cultivating relationships.
Thanks to Luca Rovinalti, Svet Solutions Media!
#16- Try to make your idea work
To relax and accept the fact that not everything is going to work. Business ventures don't always pan out, some business plans or actions will not always bring results but you won't know if you don't try. Rather than deliberating and agonizing about the outcome, you should get with the matter at hand and try to make your idea work. If you don't succeed then you can rest easy, being safe in the knowledge that you tried your best.
Thanks to Ivan Browne, Walker Rubber Limited!
#17- Be less prudent
First, I would strongly advise developing and maintaining a healthy work-life balance from the very beginning. Second, I would encourage my younger self to be less prudent in his early working days, to be more daring – to forge ahead with a boldness of vision. The world is more malleable than you think, and fortune certainly favors the brave. If we all knew then what we know now, things would be different, of course. But it’s fun to speculate on what alternative paths could have opened up had different variables been entered into the equation.
Thanks to Cuautemoc Weber, Gateway.fm!
#18- Hire better people than you
Stay focused on always refining and increasing value for your customers. That is the best way to grow enterprise value. Hire people who are better at their jobs than you would be. Set the goals and destinations so they can do their jobs effectively. Product market fit is not an event or a destination. Achieving it and refining it never ends, even for the largest companies in the world. The moment you think you are there you are in danger of falling behind. Never stop iterating and growing the value.
Thanks to Praful Saklani, Pramata!
#19- Trust yourself
As you embark on your entrepreneurial journey, it's important to understand that failure is not a reflection of your worth or abilities but rather an opportunity for growth and improvement. Don't be afraid to take risks and push the boundaries of your comfort zone. Embrace failure as a stepping stone to success, as it will teach you valuable lessons and help you develop resilience. Remember, some of the greatest achievements in history have been born out of failure. So, don't let fear hold you back; rather, embrace it. Trust yourself, believe in your ideas, and persevere through the inevitable setbacks.
Thanks to Joanna Zukowska, ENGE – Instagram Growth Experts!
#20- Embrace your unique perspective
If I could share some advice with my younger self, it would be this: trust in your instincts and believe in yourself. Embrace your unique perspective, and never underestimate the power of your voice, or the impact of your contributions. Your ideas are valuable, and your voice is powerful. Trust in your abilities, take calculated risks, stay focused on your goals, and always remember that you can achieve extraordinary things. Keep that faith in your capabilities because I promise you, it’s going to be worth it.
Thanks to Candice Burningham, Admin Avenues!
#21- Think long-term
At 37 it's funny to think that 33 was my younger self, but even in that time there are many lessons I've learned – the first of all is that 37 is not very far away. So think long-term, but also realize that happiness and success come quicker than you realize and cherish those moments. Because when I'm 90 and laid up in some advertising agency nursing home, I'm sure I wish to spend more time with my partner, and less time on PowerPoints. And isn't that why we all do it?
Thanks to Jye Smith, You're Good, Get Better!
#22- Emphasize accessibility and inclusion
I would emphasize the importance of making mistakes while also emphasizing accessibility and inclusion. Mistakes are indeed a way of learning and should not be seen as a failure. However, it is essential to recognize that not everyone has the same opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them. As a business owner, I am mindful of accessibility and inclusion, ensuring that my products, services, and workplace is accessible to all individuals, regardless of their abilities or backgrounds.
Thanks to Anita Aherne, Living on the Spectrum!
#23- Keep small short-term goals
I would adapt that saying to entrepreneurship “The first year is a liar”. As a young woman, I started at full speed, full of energy, super confident, and with very high expectations! By the end of my first year, I was nowhere close to where I hoped to be. I got tired and overwhelmed and my confidence disappeared. What I learned and wished my younger self knew at the time is that we vastly overestimate what we can do in a year and we vastly underestimate what we can do in five to ten years.
Thanks to Silvia Borges, Regional Rural Finance!
#24- Be consistent
Perfectionism can often hinder growth and hold us back from taking necessary risks. I would advise my younger self to let go of the pursuit of perfection and instead focus on making consistent progress. Success is not achieved by waiting for the flawless moment or product; it is built upon continuous improvement, learning from failures, and adapting quickly. By embracing progress, I would encourage my younger self to take bold actions, experiment, and understand that mistakes are opportunities for growth.
Thanks to Amy Fox, Amy Fox Consulting!