Young entrepreneurs are coming out of the wood works. Heck, I’m one of them.
In this very formative state, it’s important to get a foundational framework that will set these youthful professionals up for the greatest success. Of course, there’s no exact recipe for success. It looks differently for different people. However, there are strong lessons available for use to build a foundation that either a) won’t crumble when it seems like everything else is, and b) serve as support to the ventures you do find success in.
1. Recognized Opportunity
I have a friend that taught me a valuable lesson when we were in college. He said, “Everyone has ideas, but the world changers are those who put ideas into action.” Grant it, some may say, “What does a college kid know about changing the world?” Well, 5 years later and about 10 staff members deep, his company is building websites for organizations such as Chick-Fil-A, Google, Passion Conferences, Catalyst Conferences, and Piedmont National.
Ideas come all the time. Every single day we have them. But success comes when ideas are matched with recognized opportunity. What is it that the world needs? What is that the world will pay for? What will make the world a better place? Recognizing an opportunity feels like finding $100 on the beach. For a split moment you feel like the luckiest person on the planet. You want to bathe in the glory of finding $100 by yourself, and then immediately go out and tell everyone what happened to you! It’s exciting!
I’ve heard it said that the greatest leaders are those who follow well. This is something that young entrepreneurs need to have. Some of the greatest leaders in history had individuals that they learned and gleaned from. Martin Luther King Jr. had Ghandi, Nelson Mandela had Walter Sisulu, Albert Einstein had Max Talby, and Isaac Newton had Isaac Barrow.
No influencer or pioneer in history has gone at it alone. This is specifically hard to understand for many entrepreneurs, and even myself, because we want to do everything! We want to be the ones that come up with the good ideas. We want to be the ones that build our companies. We want all the glory and praise. But I promise you, without mentors investing in both your ideas and personal life, you will not get very far. You were never meant to do this alone. You need help.
To be a leader, you have to be a reader. There is a world of knowledge out there residing in more resources than you could ever have time to consume. New ideas are never birthed from nothing. They are always remixes or extensions of what has been done before. Leading an organization and knowing the right things to do and the right decisions to make doesn’t just come through osmosis. It comes from experience and learning.
Recognizing opportunity and starting new ventures doesn’t come from osmosis either. In order to innovate, lead, launch, and grow, young entrepreneurs must constantly be gleaning knowledge and new ideas from what others have learned, experienced, or started in the past. You are not the first person has pursued a new idea or venture. You’re not the first person who has recognized a new opportunity. We must learn from those who have gone before us.
Honesty is one of the most necessary attributes of a young entrepreneur; not only from an ethical standpoint, but also as a cultural currency. As older generations pass, the newer generations of “Millennials” and “Homelanders” will be rising to power. They are now the target audience and have the most buying power. One thing about these two generations is that they are tired of the old and veneered way of doing things. They hate being lied to, and they know exactly when they are trying to be bamboozled.
Having honesty while pursuing new ventures promises two things: less workload and longer retention. When we find ourselves overpromising and under-delivering, we are constantly trying to cover our tracks. This creates more work for the deliverer. When we are trying to cover our backs from work that we promised and try to cut corners on, the long-term effect results in more man hours and definitely more stress.
Honesty also produces a longer retention rate with clients. When clients feel that they are well taken care of and told the truth, they are much more likely to stick with you and your product. This is human nature. People want to feel valued because they see themselves as valuable. This way of doing business creates a psychological buy-in that’s not easy to break.
In one of my favorite movies, “School of Rock,” Jack Black says, “Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach P.E.” He says this sitting down at a table with other teachers in a joking manner. But it plays on a sub cultural belief or question, “Did teachers who teach P.E. try as hard in school as those who teach other subjects like mathematics, biology, or English?” We know the answer to that question is “absolutely!” You better believe they did.
But what question is Jack Black’s character raising with this passé joke? It’s a question of discipline. Those who are more disciplined see more success. Understandably this illustration is a completely botched cultural misconception, I believe it proves true to what we are taught about “success” and how to find it.
Discipline creates a regiment and lifestyle within individuals that serves as the fostering ground for success as entrepreneurs. I wouldn’t define it so much as the foundation as much as I would the fertilizer. Discipline is never a one and done process. It’s actually the process of cultivating a lifestyle of faithfulness. Whether it be working out, prayer or meditation, coming to work on time, doing things with excellence, or taking time to rest, having a disciplined regiment is key to the growth of any young entrepreneurs success.