If you’re currently in your early 20s, you’ve probably grown up surrounded by ‘hustle culture’, the idea that you should always be working hard to build success. In the past, this typically meant working your way up in a company and making money for someone else. The current social and economic landscape, however, champions entrepreneurship. If you’re bold and innovative, your 20s are the perfect time to start working for yourself.
Starting an entrepreneurial journey can be as challenging as it is thrilling. To ensure your success in the world of business, we’ve put together a list of four tried-and-true tips all young entrepreneurs should follow.
1. Start Young
During your 20s, you may be tempted to focus your attention solely on your studies, sports or even dating. However, in an interview for Home Business Magazine, seasoned entrepreneur Steve Streit cautions would-be entrepreneurs about the pitfall of hesitation. “Doing something won’t guarantee success,” he explains, “but doing nothing will certainly guarantee failure.”
Many young people convince themselves that they aren’t knowledgeable enough to start a business. The experience required to become a successful entrepreneur isn’t gained by completing a degree or reaching a certain age. It’s developed through exposure to economic dealings and through trial and error. By starting early, you can experience and learn from common entrepreneurial mistakes before you even reach your prime.
2. Create a Business Plan
Research has shown that up to 50% of new businesses fail in their first five years. These failures can be attributed to many factors but often share one commonality: their founder did not develop an effective business plan. A business plan is an entrepreneur’s roadmap to success. It should identify where you see your business in five years, a list of milestones you must hit to reach that point, and a clear strategy outlining how you will meet these targets.
A business plan isn’t something you create just once when you start your company. It is a document that you should constantly be reviewing and amending based on new data you receive. Using metrics, such as customer engagement and sales figures, you can improve the accuracy of your business predictions and keep your business plan realistic.
3. Approach a Mentor
Business plans, funding options, manufacturing requirements — there can be an overwhelming amount of information for young entrepreneurs to absorb in the early stages of starting a new venture. One way to guard against rookie mistakes and information overload is to approach a mentor.
A mentor is an experienced figure in the entrepreneurial field who has already reached or exceeded the level of success you’re hoping to achieve. Mentorship can be invaluable for budding entrepreneurs, as their relationships with suppliers and manufacturers can help you significantly cut production costs and gain access to big players within the industry who wouldn’t typically deal with startups.
Some mentors will offer their services freely to captivating young entrepreneurs. However, more commonly, successful entrepreneurs will double as investors and wish to buy a stake in your business before offering access to their wealth of knowledge and industry connections. Famous entrepreneurial investors of this variety include Shark Tank stars Robert Herjavec and Lori Greiner.
4. Practice Resilience
For innovators, failure is, at times, inevitable. To become a successful entrepreneur at any age, you must be willing to embrace a growth mindset and view setbacks as opportunities for improvement. If billionaire Bill Gates had given up on his entrepreneurial journey after his first business venture, Traf-O-Data, flopped, Microsoft may not exist today.
Research has shown that cultivating compassion is key to building resilience. By offering compassion to yourself and your team, you can create positive work relationships and an environment with reduced stress. When failure is not feared, experimentation and innovation thrive. Other ways to improve resilience involve embracing mindfulness and practicing acceptance.
By creating a strong business plan, approaching a mentor, and embracing setbacks in your 20s, you can significantly increase the chance of having a successful, multi-national company by age 30.