I Wish I Received This Advice as a Young Entrepreneur

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If you asked 100 people if they could go back in time and give their younger selves helpful advice, I bet a majority would do so.

Sure, some might warn themselves to avoid that terrible hairdo at the prom or avoid that dreadful ex at all costs, but many would offer sage wisdom that would save them difficulties to come. As I think back on my time as an entrepreneur, I can’t help but wonder how certain ventures might have turned out if I had the knowledge that I do as an older, more experienced industry veteran.

While I can’t turn back time, I can provide helpful insights to those in the same position I was: hard-charging entrepreneurs ready to change the world without knowing what awaits them. If that describes you, take a few moments to think about your present situation and how your journey could improve, thanks to a few tips from someone who’s been there before.

Related: 21 Success Tips for Young and Aspiring Entrepreneurs

1. Create a story that people want to hear more about

You know your company intimately and how your product or service could transform the market. As you should.

However, if you can’t craft a compelling story around your business that convinces others of the same, it will be hard to get the support you need. For centuries, stories have connected people in a way that nothing else can.

The same goes for your company. Don’t rely on bullet points and numbers to sell your vision; use them as part of a greater narrative to share with investors — and the world. Show them why your product is the missing key to solving their most significant problems, making them the hero of the story and your company the one who can guide them to success.

2. Surround yourself with the right people

There are three important groups of people you need to surround yourself with as an entrepreneur: a trusted mentor, a reliable team and a strong network of fellow entrepreneurs.

Having a mentor or advisor with relevant industry experience in your corner can make all the difference. Starting on your own feels overwhelming and lonely at times. When you have so many difficult decisions, finding someone you trust and who has experienced similar situations is helpful, offering wisdom and encouragement when you need it most. Surrounding yourself with a strong, dedicated and reliable team is critical to the everyday success of your company. You can’t do it alone, and you shouldn’t have to. Carefully vet and hire people with complementary skills to yours that will create a strong, driven culture.

Finally, don’t be afraid to network with other entrepreneurs like yourself. Having a group of people who are experiencing the same challenges can make you feel less isolated and even better supported with ideas and feedback.

Related: What These 5 Billionaires Would Tell Their Younger Selves

3. Quickly adopt an entrepreneur’s mindset

Startup life isn’t suited for everyone. In some ways, it’s paradoxical. It requires a determination to move forward regardless of the mounting risks and uncertainty, yet the adaptability to pivot at the right moment.

Entrepreneurs approach each day knowing that failure is not an option while understanding that it’s inevitable. It requires resiliency and humility, willing to take every setback in stride while understanding what happened, why and how to make the necessary changes to avoid similar outcomes in the future. It takes a certain mindset to be a founder — and if you’re going to succeed, the sooner you adopt that thought process, the better.

4. Align your business with your passion

Many entrepreneurs are already building something they love. But for others, as much as they want to succeed, their heart isn’t truly invested in the product or the process. Don’t get me wrong; great companies can be built by people who aren’t always thrilled by the project. However, the daily grind of startup life will be too overwhelming for those who don’t live and breathe the purpose of their business.

The formula for many successful startups combines personal interests and strengths with accurately assessing the market’s demands and trends. It’s the alignment of passion and profit potential.

There has to be a balance between desire and opportunity. If you go too far one way, you can tend to forget the importance of the other side. Too much passion, and you may not see the lack of demand. Too much focus on profits, and you will burn yourself out on something that isn’t meaningful, especially if it falters.

Related: 3 Pieces of Business Advice for My Younger Self

5. Listen to your body

Entrepreneurs are notorious for pushing themselves to limits that the human body can’t sustain in the effort to create the perfect product or company. They forsake sleep, proper hydration, nutrition and exercise to make more time to complete the next thing. While the motivation is admirable, you must put boundaries in place. You need to have a personal life that separates you from your startup.

Make time for things that matter to you outside of work. Find someone who will hold you accountable and isn’t afraid to tell you to go home. Too many entrepreneurs burden themselves with so much stress that it can lead to significant health issues and create strain on their most meaningful relationships.

This piece seems obvious, but many entrepreneurs still put aside their physical and mental well-being to ensure their business succeeds. I realize this is only a handful of suggestions from which each entrepreneur could learn. However, I believe these pieces of wisdom would have been valuable to me and many others.

There is no experience in life like founding your own business — the thrill and elation when things go your way and the crushing defeat when things go wrong. This journey isn’t for everyone, but for the endeavoring souls willing to embrace the risks and rewards, it’s worth it.

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