I’ve learned a lot as a entrepreneur, from the early college days when I had my own website consulting business, to now with a research and management consulting firm. When I was starting out, my main goal was for people to take me seriously because there is a lot of ageism out there and it’s a major obstacles for us young guns. Another obstacle I encountered was balancing a full-time gig at a Fortune 200 company with all of my side projects. It’s not easy being a CEO under 30 but I’ve learned a lot and want to share some of my best advice with you so you don’t make the same mistakes as I did and you can start making improvements to your business today.
1. Be calculated.
A lot of entrepreneurs end up taking the leap before they should and they run into monetary issues. I worked for over three years at my company, while running my business on the side, before I make the jump. If I left too soon, I wouldn’t be able to support myself and would have had to move back in with my parents. I constantly kept tabs on my revenue and projected revenues. When I felt like I could project enough revenue over a two year period, that was the point when I gave my two weeks’ notice, not before. A second factor for me was maturity. I simply didn’t feel like I was mature enough to quit my job at such an early age without having the confidence required to run the business.
2. Evolve yourself.
When I first started out, my market was executives, authors and entrepreneurs who were looking to build their online personal brand. This worked well for a while as I changed pricing models and gathered case studies. After a few years, the industry become extremely saturated and it seemed like everyone was my competitor – a social media guru. I was sick of being undercut and just lost interest in doing what I was doing, especially since it wasn’t scalable. I decided to focus my attention on a growing market – helping companies better understand my generation, while helping my generation better understand how to get ahead in their careers. This transition was wise because I could fill a void, while leveraging everything I’ve done in the past and put my energy into larger companies.
3. Select lifestyle mentors.
Every entrepreneurs needs mentors and the better your mentors when you’re first starting out, the more successful you will be. If you’re an entrepreneur with a mobile app idea, then find a successful entrepreneur who has a company that develops mobile apps. This way, you can learn about how to go about establishing that type of company and you’ll have someone who can help you create it. You should select mentors based on their lifestyle and how they operate their businesses. If you have a desired future lifestyle, then mimic what other entrepreneurs have done in order to create that same lifestyle by selecting the right people.
4. Become a great salesperson.
As an entrepreneur you are going to be constantly selling – yourself, your ideas and your products. If you aren’t good at sales, the best way to improve is to make cold calls. The more rejection you get, the more you can adjust your pitch and improve. Understand that we all get rejections and I believe I will, even twenty years from now. It’s part of the game! When you sell, make sure that you make it short and concise, giving them enough information, facts and stats that will convince them to listen to you.
Dan Schawbel is the 29 year old founder of Millennial Branding. He is a Gen Y career and workplace expert and the author of the new book, Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin’s Press).