Mompreneur: Young entrepreneurs offer startup advice

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Posted: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 12:00 am

Generation Y expert and life coach Christine Hassler is the author of the “20-Something Manifesto: Quarter-Lifers Speak Out About Who They Are, What They Want, and How to Get It.” She spoke with Ask the Mompreneur about young entrepreneurs.

Question: It seems like business owners are getting younger and younger these days. What advice do you have for people who are launching their own businesses at a relatively tender age?

Answer: Becoming an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. It takes incredible courage and commitment — and there are absolutely no guarantees other than you will probably work harder than you ever have before. Starting a business is challenging at any age, but can be especially challenging in your 20s and early 30s when you don’t have a lot of experience or capital under your belt.

I spent the past month interviewing more than 30 entrepreneurs in their 20s and 30s as part of The Quarterlife Upgrade project. I did this because I wanted quarter-lifers to be able to hear relatable and actionable advice from people of their generation. The advice was real, raw and incredibly insightful. Here are some highlights:

Getting started:

» Look at the problems around you as an opportunity for a business. Only start a business if there is a specific problem you can solve and be really clear on how you can uniquely solve it.

» There is so much you don’t know — and even more that you don’t know you don’t know. So don’t wait until you feel ready and totally knowledgeable. Just start.

» The most important ingredients are initiative and discipline. If you aren’t a self-starter and have trouble being accountable to yourself, starting your own business probably isn’t for you.

The details:

» Systems and rituals rule. Calendar your day and set up things like a “power hour” where you turn off all email, phones and other distractions to maximize your productivity.

» Look into co-working spaces to increase productivity and morale. Sitting alone in your apartment can be depleting and make you a lot less interesting. The path of an entrepreneur can be isolating, so do things to get yourself out there.

» Don’t try to do it all. Focus on the 5 percent you’re great at and delegate the rest. Delegation and building a great team is key to running a successful business. Not investing in hiring, even in part-time workers or interns, is not a way to save — it can actually cost you money.

» Have a team of advisers, not just one mentor or guru you are modeling. Diversify relationships with people you can go to for all kinds of advice. Nurture your relationships with them by sending them relevant content, news or information that is of interest to them.

» Drop perfectionism. It is totally impossible and will make you crazy. Do the best you can, but don’t pressure yourself to do everything perfectly.

The big picture:

» You will make mistakes. Lots of them. Get comfortable with failure, and instead of beating yourself up when it happens, look for the lessons.

» Take care of yourself. Burnout is not a badge of honor. Sleep, exercise, eat green things, get outside and spend time away from your computer.

» Find a way to integrate conscious capitalism into your business, even if it is just giving away 1 percent or spending one day a month taking your team to volunteer. Align yourself with a cause to keep the “big picture” in mind.

» Write down the legacy you want to leave. Don’t just think about profit and results; consider the person you want to be. Your values are an essential part of your business plan.

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