I started working on my first real business when I was still in university. I say “real” because I always had little ventures going on as a kid, from running lemonade stands to selling stationary door to door. I have certainly learned some valuable lessons through my experiences and I am still learning.
The lesson I learned when that first business flopped was the hardest one. It was an epic fail that stung for awhile, but it also taught me some of the most valuable business lessons I’ve learned.
In the years since, with the wisdom I’ve gained, I can reflect on who I was and what I knew — and didn’t know yet — when I was starting my first business. If I could go back in time, here are the 10 lessons I would share with my younger, less-experienced self:
1. Your first attempt at this business is going to fail. But DO IT ANYWAY because you’re going to learn a lot that will make the next attempt very successful.
2. Don’t listen to the haters. A lot of people are going to tell you your ideas are stupid, you’re too young to start a business, you should get a real job, most businesses fail, and a whole bunch of other negative comments to make you feel small.
3. Listen to constructive criticism your mentors and supporters give you but don’t feel you have to accommodate all of their feedback. You still have to trust yourself.
4. Being an entrepreneur is tough; perseverance is key. Pin your vision on your wall and look at it every day to remind you what you’re working towards. Don’t even think about giving up.
5. Pour your heart and soul into creating something impactful and awesome without getting a dime, and the money will follow. This may not make sense to you right now but doing so is going to lead to a lot of exposure which will bring in revenue and opportunities that you wouldn’t have had if you had just focused on your paycheck.
6. Help other people shine even if there’s nothing in it for you. Reach out and help others when you can. People notice the little things you do even when you don’t think they do.
7. You crawl before you walk. You walk before you run. Things may not always move along as fast as you’d like but businesses are built one step at a time.
8. You can’t please everyone. There will be people you just can’t please and those people aren’t worth your time.
9. Don’t be afraid to take risks and make major changes if something isn’t working. Entrepreneurs must be dynamic.
10. Follow your gut. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Intuition is a powerful force that you shouldn’t ignore.