“What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur?”
I was posed this question on Twitter by a follower named David Kopelman and 140 characters just wouldn’t do the advice justice, so this post is his answer (with a twist).
While I believe that all entrepreneurs have things in common, I also believe that we are all uniquely gifted in our own ways and must build our businesses as such. So, instead of assuming I know what @DKoppelman1 is all about as an entrepreneur, I’m going to write advice to myself as if I were 22 again and wanting to take on the world — which almost perfectly described me at 22.
Assuming I could go back in time to myself at 22, there are 6 things that I would coach myself on to accomplish more things in less time. In no particular order, they are:
BE QUICK BUT DON’T HURRY.
You often race through projects, books, training courses (and life), when slowing down and taking everything in would be far more beneficial. Be quick about what you do in the sense that most projects and tasks should take half or 75% as much time as you give yourself to complete them. You’ll learn this when you read The Four-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. It will scramble your mind in a good way.
Be quick to accomplish your goals, but don’t hurry through and assume that you’re going to be at a mastery level within days, weeks or months. You’ll become a successful speaker and seminar leader, but it won’t happen overnight. One day a friend of yours will tell you about the 3-Year Rule and it will make complete sense. I’ll give you the high level definition: It takes 3 years to get to the level of success you think you should have in year 1. Be patient. Be quick, but don’t hurry.
YOUR FRIENDS ARE SUPER IMPORTANT. CHOOSE WISELY.
The guys in college that looked up to you and said you were bound for great things were great for your ego but did nothing to push you to new levels. You will be the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with. Income-wise, success-wise, mindset-wise. The last one will dictate the others. Be around people who push you to be better, not to be satisfied with where you are currently.
In choosing your friends, make sure that you are surrounding yourself with people you aspire to live life like. While your buddies are out drinking and watching football, you should be spending time with mentors who will help you in your quest for success and significance. Some of your current friends will feel alienated, but it’s okay. Great friends will always be there… some will fade off.
If you can’t find a group to connect with, make one. You’ll realize this later in your career and create a successful organization of like-minded thinkers. I just wish I (you) had figured this out years before.
STUDY RISK AND LEVERAGE. KNOW THEM BOTH INTIMATELY.
You’ll grow to understand the difference between taking a calculated risk and being risky. Early in your career you’ll be risky, then you’ll learn to take calculated risks. Minimizing those risks will ensure that you’ll be successful more than you’ll fail. As your understanding of calculated risks rise, your businesses will ramp up faster and you’ll predict the downsides and prepare for them.
To ramp up fastest, don’t be afraid of leverage (if you’re all in). Leverage will serve you well throughout your life and you’ll figure out how to use it to your advantage in all scenarios. Leverage is both debt (credit), people (assistants & employees), and time. Borrowing money to make money is good leverage. Hiring people to do less time valued work is smart. Investing time to learn something that will level up your business is wise.
The smartest and most successful people you’ll come to know and study will both understand and use both risk and leverage. So must you.
GET GOOD AT EVALUATING OPPORTUNITY. THEN CHOOSE.
In your lifetime, you’ll be hit up for hundreds, if not thousands, of great opportunities. Get really good at evaluating these and deciding whether or not it’s worth your time, your energy, and most importantly, your attention. Dad once told you, “You won’t lack for opportunity. Your challenge will be deciding which one to pursue.” He said which ONE to pursue for a reason. Chase two rabbits and you’ll catch neither. You’re still learning this lesson at 37.
Come to know early on that your time is worth a certain amount and then work like hell to make that a reality. The goals you set in your 20’s were hit in your early 30’s. You would’ve hit them in less time if they had been in front of you constantly. Make a dream board, create affirmations, then meditate on them daily until you’ve manifested them in your life by Making Awesome Shit Happen (M.A.S.H.). It really is that easy.
SUCCESS IS A JOURNEY, NOT A DESTINATION. ENJOY IT.
You’ll want to compare yourself to others throughout life. Don’t. Every one of us is on a different path. The journey is yours alone to enjoy. Sure, you’ll have companions throughout your journey. Some will depart early, some will come around every so many months or years, and others will be there right by your side the entire time just as you are for them. All of them are there for a reason — to help you learn and grow.
You’ll take jobs early on in your career — take them for what you can learn, not what you can earn. Take them for the people you’ll be surrounded by. Enjoy the journey with these people. When it ceases to become enjoyable, make sure you’ve learned the lessons, then move on to the next path. If you leave before you’ve learned the lesson, you’ll be doomed to repeat it again and again no matter where you work or what you do.
(There will be bosses in your life that drive you absolutely crazy… they were put in your path for a reason. You’ll learn a great deal from them.)
FOLLOW YOUR HEART.
The heart knows what you want. Just follow it.
Your future self,
PS > When it seems like a good idea to loan money to someone, don’t. It never works out the way you think it will.
PPS > Take this entrepreneurial test before starting anything else. It will serve you well.