Young entrepreneurs are at an amazing crossroads: They’re just young enough that people are skeptical of their abilities, but they’re also just young enough that their accomplishments are amplified. Say you’re going to accomplish ‘X,’ and most people will have to fight the urge to roll their eyes, pat your head and ruffle your hair. But when you actually do accomplish ‘X,’ people are blown away by your ability to overcome tremendous obstacles -- one of which being age.
Moving from the camp of the skeptics to the camp of the admirers is difficult -- many people give up before they get there. Think of the young men and women you know, probably between 16 and 24 years old, with social media profiles that say something like “entrepreneur” or “future millionaire.” Unfortunately, few of them have what it takes to move between camps. They will forever evoke smirks and raised eyebrows when people remember how big their failed aspirations were.
Fortunately, there’s nothing that fates every young entrepreneur to fail. You have more working for you than against you -- all you have to do is keep your focus on just five actions every young entrepreneur should be taking.
1. Choose a goal that can’t be downgraded
All too often, someone will set out to start a business, sell a product or make an investment with a goal focused on a certain material item. Perhaps it’s a mansion in Malibu, a new Lamborghini or any other expensive, flashy thing. Nobody is under the impression that you can sleep your way to these goals -- they’ll all require constant work and struggle to get them.
However, when your goals are focused on tangible, material things, they’re at risk of being downgraded when the pressure gets too high. Maybe after 18 months of grinding away, you suddenly realize you’d be just as happy with a new Mustang as you would with a new Lamborghini, so you downgrade. Maybe that mansion in Malibu doesn’t seem as nice as a two-story house in Dallas, so you downgrade.
There’s nothing wrong with having more affordable possessions, but there is something wrong with settling. Choose goals that you can’t downgrade. Keep your eyes fixed above the material possessions. My goal is to completely change the education system and fight against Wall Street corruption. A new car or house won’t satisfy these hungers; only ultimate success will.
2. Establish daily rituals
Humans are creatures of habit, and we shouldn’t fight this. You’ll find that you’re most productive, feel more energized and enjoying life more if you can hammer out daily routines to follow. Wake up at the same time every day, go for a run at the same time every day, read a book at the same time every day, etc.
There will of course be times when these rituals need to be set aside for pressing matters, but having a baseline to come back to will help you feel at home and at ease.
3. Follow your own clock
Many people struggle to do things on other people’s time. We try to wake up at 5 o’clock because we heard that all the billionaires do this. We try to work past midnight because we heard that our competition is doing this.
While there’s nothing wrong with working longer hours, or getting up earlier, you need to be honest with yourself about when you’re most productive. Do you get the most work done between noon and sunset? Free up that time to get creative and make progress. Are you more of a night owl? Sleep in so that you have more energy when the sun goes down.
Do whatever you need to do to make yourself more productive.
4. Be honest with people
You’ve probably tried juggling all your responsibilities at once without letting on that you’re being stretched thin. You try to spend time with family, hang out with friends and go out with your girlfriend, while still trying to make progress on your goals. This isn’t going to work long-term, and sooner or later people will start noticing.
You’re not Superman. You can’t be expected to be everywhere you’re needed -- you don’t have unlimited time. It’s best to be up front with people in your life. Tell them you’re in a creative period when you need to focus on getting work done. If they’re worth having in your life, they’ll understand and support you.
5. Stay enthusiastic even while failing
You are going to fail. You are going to spectacularly mess up. You are going to be tired, embarrassed and disheartened. This happens to every entrepreneur, and it will happen to you.
The difference needs to be that you are able to push through this, keep your enthusiasm and continue trying. While the failed entrepreneurs get stopped in their tracks by setbacks, you’ll move from failure to failure without losing momentum. Keep failing, every day, until you finally get it right. I promise you it will be worth it.
Young entrepreneurs are some of the most well-situated people in the world. They have the energy and creativity and ambition of youth, and all the years of their lives ahead of them. If you mess up, you have plenty of time to figure out what went wrong and how to do better.
You know that you’re capable of amazing things. Now it’s time to show the world that.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors