Starting a business in your twenties is a great way to start your entrepreneurial journey. The earlier you start, the better you equip yourself to become a successful entrepreneur later in life. You’ll learn a ton of new skills, you’ll have access to an unmatchable network, and you can avoid the 9 to 5 altogether. In this article, we’ll share some words of wisdom to help you succeed as an entrepreneur in your twenties.
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Advice For Entrepreneurs In Their Twenties
1. Start In School
The one thing people in their twenties don’t realize is how much time they have. Sure, school can keep you pretty busy– especially during midterm season. The struggle. But your hours will never be more flexible than when you’re in school. You have a ton of hours to devote to your business even after all that hardcore studying time you need to put in.
Starting your first business in school can have a massive impact on your success. Your network in school is often way bigger than your network after you graduate. If you want something to go massively viral, you can reach out to your friends and classmates for support. As you get older, people get busier in their personal lives. So it’s harder to get their attention.
But if you start early enough, you can skyrocket your business to greater heights through word of mouth. That’s how Mark Zuckerberg built Facebook.
By starting your entrepreneurial itch early, you can get immediate feedback from classmates who are likely your biggest customers. Most businesses don’t have direct access to their customers. You can learn so much about who they are, what they like, and what product they need the most so you can serve them better.
2. Even The Best Fail
The truth is, those who’ve never failed likely never tried to begin with. The only way to avoid failure is to do nothing at all. And nobody can get through life without doing anything. Even if you try at all costs. You’ll make mistakes on tests. Or date someone only to end up with a broken heart. And we all know how many times you’ve tripped over your own feet. Failure is inevitable.
You’ve got two options: fear failure or go after it.
The wantrepreneur who fears failure will avoid starting a business only to work in the rat race for life. And eventually, those people will be forced to fail too. Layoffs or downsizing will get them. Maybe a stock market crash will cause them to lose their life savings. Or worse, they wake up one morning and realize that they haven’t lived the life they wanted. Now that’s what I call scary!
But the entrepreneur recognizes that failure is going to happen even if they do their best work. It’s all part of the game. You try. You fail. Then, you change your approach and get better. Failure is what causes people to grow so fast. The more you fail, the better you become. Sounds strange but it’s true.
By accepting failure’s role in your experience as an entrepreneur, you’ll be able to recover from it when it does happen. When failure occurs, all you need to do is learn from it. And that’s what’ll set you apart from people who get defeated by it.
3. Broaden Your Skills
In your early stages of the entrepreneur life, focus on learning a wide range of skills. To succeed in entrepreneurship, you need to learn a little about a lot. It’s crucial to have a solid understanding of the various roles and how they all fit in together.
For example, if you’re building an online store, you’ll need to know how to create or choose great product photos, how to write product descriptions, how Facebook or Google Ads works, how to read data, and so much more. You might not be doing all of these things. Some tasks might get outsourced to a freelancer or are managed by an employee. But you need to know when something is done right and when something’s wrong. That way, you can give proper feedback.
4. Read A Ton of Books
A huge secret to success is to know a little about a lot. That’s this article’s central theme. How can you absorb as much information as possible about as many topics as possible? One way is through reading. You can choose to learn new information from blogs, podcasts, online courses, business books or other channels as well.
But here’s the kicker. The reason why you should be reading stuff outside of your area of expertise isn’t so you become the world’s leading astrophysicist/business owner. It’s so that your brain has more information to make connections with. When you spend periods studying a new topic, you now know something you didn’t before. You might not see a clear connection today. But a few years from now, you might learn something new that connects with something you once learned.
Finding patterns is one of the most critical human skills. We learn new things from seeing patterns. By making connections with different topics, we can invent new products, make discoveries, and become successful entrepreneurs. So be open to learning a wide range of topics: outside your area of expertise and even outside your areas of interest. You’d be surprised at what you might find interesting after digging into a new world.
There’s a lot of mixed messaging online about education. Some say don’t read and just execute. But the reality is you need to be doing both. Don’t use reading as an excuse to procrastinate. You still need to work on your business daily. But you should also find half an hour to an hour to read everyday too. The world’s billionaires read all the time. And it plays a direct role in their success.
5. Meet People Of All Personality Types
Psychology says you’re attracted to people you’re similar to. Great! But what happens when you’re entirely different. Oh, the resistance. If you never expose yourself to different personality types, you’ll struggle to work well with people who are wildly different from you. But as an entrepreneur, your business is eventually going to hire your polar opposite. All successful companies need people of different personality types.
Another thing to notice is that sometimes the most significant conflicts come from identical people. Maybe two people want the same thing. But because their approach to it is different, they don’t realize it. And as an entrepreneur, you’ll need to be able to recognize that.
The more people you interact with, work with, and genuinely get to know, the better you’ll become at managing people. That’s the hardest part of being an entrepreneur. The earlier you can learn this skill, the better. So go hang out with your mortal enemy, you’d be surprised at how much you can learn.
6. Take Risks
The risks you take in your twenties will eventually be recovered from. Debts from failed businesses. Investing in the wrong product. Executing a lousy idea. You can push boundaries in your twenties, and it’s likely that if anything does go wrong, things will eventually be okay. You know, as long as the risks you take are perfectly legal. Don’t go breaking the law or anything.
In your twenties, you can approach business with a high-risk, high reward mindset. You can take bigger risks so you can potentially reap bigger rewards. If you lose, you’ll lose big. But if you win, you win big. Of course, you still want your risks to be calculated. Don’t go throwing down $10,000 on your first ad when you’ve never run an ad before. You’re running a business, not gambling with one.
7. Try Everything Once
When it comes to business, my favorite thing to tell people is, “just try it.” And that little rule applies to all areas of business. You came up with an idea for social media, but you’re not sure if it’ll work. Just try it. You learned a new trick to solve customer complaints. Just try it. You got invited to speak at a major conference on the other side of the world. Just try it. Until you go out and try something for the first time, you’ll never know if it’ll work.
You have no idea how many times I was on the fence about an idea. I’d sit and stare at my screen. Thinking. Just thinking. Should I? I shouldn’t. Should I? Come on Nicole, just try it. What’s funny, is that on multiple occasions, the ideas that I almost didn’t execute end up being the most successful. I’d love to tell you that after ten years of marketing experience under my belt that I always know what the best ideas are. But I don’t. Sometimes I succeed, and I have no idea why.
One time, I copied and pasted part of an article into the Notes section on an iPhone. I screenshotted it. Then, I posted it on Pinterest. The pins in that style got millions of views and still get repinned today. I was stunned. And that happened because I told myself to try it.
Sometimes you’ll question yourself. Oh, I think this design is ugly. Or this campaign idea isn’t polished enough. But the best way to know if something will work, is to just hit publish. Let the people decide what to make of it.
8. Don’t Procrastinate
When you realize you’re young and have all the time in the world to start your first business, it’s easy to procrastinate. What most twenty-somethings don’t realize is how fast life creeps up on you. You blink. Suddenly, you’re in your mid-thirties changing diapers, paying a mortgage, and stuck in a 9 to 5 job as long as you have debt.
I’m not going to tell you not to go to your friend’s birthday party or to skip out on family reunions. Relationships are the most important thing in life — more than money and all that it can buy. What I will say is that if you can find time to marathon The Mandalorian, you can find time to work on a business.
The most important thing to remember is that starting a business is something you want to do. It’s human nature to want to build something. We’re all creators in one way or another. We all strive to create something in life that outlives us. So we can have a legacy. For some people, it’s having children. For others, it’s publishing a book. And for you, it’s building a business.
Your entrepreneurial career will have twists and turns. The sooner you dive into it, the better you get at the game. And inevitably, you become more successful because you’re just that more experienced. Taking those first few steps can be uncomfortable. But that unease can be highly rewarding. It merely means you’re doing something for the first time. And learning something new is always the best part of doing something.
9. Don’t Rush Into Your First Job
One of my greatest regrets in my twenties was rushing into my first job. When you graduate from school, you notice all your friends are happily employed. And finally making money. Who doesn’t love making money? But with student loans at an all-time high, it seems like getting your first job straight out of school is the right thing to do.
But the reality is when you’re fresh out of school is when you have the fewest responsibilities. While this doesn’t apply to everyone, it’s quite likely that you’re unmarried, without children, and can live at home with your parents if you had to.
As long as you’ve got a working computer and internet, you can build a business from home to get started. And if your parents start hounding you about getting a job, you can pick up shifts at a restaurant nearby and use your tips to pay down student loans and early business expenses. Most restaurants have split shifts and flexible hours so you can work on your business all other times.
In your early twenties, you will earn the lowest salary of your career. Sure, you could make $40,000 working at a company. Or you could build a company that pays you nothing in the beginning but eventually pays you so much more than any corporate company would ever pay you. Today, your friends will make more than you. But if you were to compare bank accounts ten years from now. It’s you, the entrepreneur, who would have more in the bank. Don’t be discouraged by the slow start. Be excited about the end goal.
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Your twenties are the time of experimentation, risk, and learning. You’re building the foundation to set yourself up for entrepreneurial success. If you fall flat on your face, you can dust yourself off and try again. You’re not yet addicted to the high from a steady paycheck. So, you accept that there are no big rewards on day one. If you start your business in school, you’ll have a position of CEO at your first “job” when you leave school. Building a business in your twenties is all about growth. And that’s one of the best parts of being an entrepreneur.
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