I recently received messages from three young entrepreneurs through email, Facebook and LinkedIn. Each of them had businesses, were under the age of 20, and had a strong vision for their life and goals.
I mentor about 15,000 entrepreneurs from all over the world in my closed Facebook group, and was happy to provide insight (request invite here). Entrepreneurship saved my life, it’s the purpose of my existence and it’s what I wake up for every single day. Of course I want to give back to other entrepreneurs. Here’s my advice:
1. Connect with everyone.
The email hunter extension will give you about 90 percent of the email addresses you’re looking for. If that doesn’t work, go to LinkedIn and connect there. If you read an article, connect with the author. If you read about someone online with a good idea, connect. If you meet someone in person, connect. Connect with everyone and build up your network.
2. Focus on your personal brand.
Deep Patel is one of the young men who reached out to me. He’s already written a book, booked interviews with high profile entrepreneurs including Mark Cuban, and is under 18 years old. He’s establishing himself as an authority and is working on developing his brand. It’s working.
Figure out what makes you unique, and build your brand. No matter what business you start, you’ll have brand equity through your own personal brand.
3. Exploit your age to attract mentors.
Most experienced and successful entrepreneurs want to give back to younger entrepreneurs. Use this to your advantage.
4. Leverage all resources (school, family, etc.).
As a young person, you have access to lots of additional resources you may not have as an adult. School, family and friends will all want to help. Reach out to everyone, use programs in school, search for programs online, talk to family friends, find out who your parents know that are entrepreneurs. Leverage whatever resources you have access to.
5. Get started.
Starting now will give you exponential experience and growth potential. Plus, you’ll learn as you go, just like every other entrepreneur. Stop analyzing everything in your life, and just start.
Writing is beneficial for so many reasons. It helps improve your grammar and vocabulary, it helps you communicate better, and it will be great to follow your personal growth and development by going back and reading your previous thoughts. Start writing today by opening up a blog, or simply by journaling.
7. Live at home.
Take advantage of having literally no overhead costs such as rent and additional expenses. Make sure to help around wherever you can and stay grateful, not entitled. Living at home will help you take more risks without the obligation to make money to pay bills.
8. Get a part-time job. Maybe.
This is a 50-50 shot. If you have some sort of way to live without needing a job (grant money, scholarship, mommy/daddy, whatever) take advantage. If not, a part-time job can help pay bills, but also give you some necessary social components you may be lacking if you’re starting a company on your own. Plus, the job can work as a place where you can share your business, get potential users or clients and practice your pitch to co-workers.
9. Learning is more important than dollars.
When I was getting started, I had the opportunity to go the corporate route to chase big pay checks or earn pennies but get thrown right into the mix by working at startups. Choosing the startup route gave me infinite experience, skills and knowledge that gave me the power to strike out on my own. As a young entrepreneur, you must always learn. Learning is more important than dollars. You have plenty of time to make money, and your evolution will help expedite your money-making process.
10. Read Hacker News.
C’mon, Paul Graham is still the authority. Read that stuff religiously.
11. Stop looking for investment.
Seriously. Don’t get blinded by the propaganda. You’ll raise money when you need to raise money. For now, focus on your product, on validation and customer/user experience. That’s what matters most right now. Elon Musk focuses all of his time on creating amazing products, and the products do the rest. Follow that mantra.
12. When you’re ready for investment, go to friends, family and fools.
The three F’s are your best bets in attracting funding for your company. You’ll need to put together the right documentation, learn about investment instruments (convertible notes, etc.) and show how you plan to use that money. When you’re ready, meaning you’ve validated your idea and have some traction, the most probable place you’ll find funding is through the three F’s.
13. Ask for help.
It’s always beneficial to ask for help. Some people are too proud or just don’t know how to ask for it. It’s easy: just ask. Ask all of the time, and use the help given to you.
14. Take aggressive risks.
Now’s the time to take big, uncalculated risks. It’s fun as hell. You’ll learn and you’ll grow. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, you learn. Either way you win. Move across the world. Create that app. Whatever you envision, take the risk.
15. Trust your gut.
Even at a young age, you have an idea of what you want in life. If something doesn’t feel right, learn how to trust your intuition and make decisions.
16. Don’t use age as an excuse.
There are plenty of people who have done more at a younger age. So using your “age” as an excuse as to why you can’t accomplish something is pointless. Use your age as the reason, and you’ll accomplish more.
17. Test all of your ideas.
Read the Lean Startup and learn how to create as many MVPs as possible, for all of your different ideas. Use the actual feedback to figure out what idea you want to focus on.
18. Read everything.
Books, articles, blog posts, newspapers, magazines, whatever. Be a sponge of information and read constantly. Carry a book with you, and read it between meetings, at the barber shop, at the beach, wherever.
19. Create an idea book.
Look at every successful person in history and see what they all have in common. Yep, an idea book. This includes Einstein, Edison, Musk, to the Dali freakin’ Lama. They all have (or had) idea books. Jot down your ideas all day long, carry it with you always, and review your book every day and night.
20. F*ck rules and dogma.
Do what is best for your life. Don’t let family or friends dictate your decisions. In every big choice you make, analyze the reason you’re choosing that direction, and make sure it aligns with your own vision for your life. This is your life, you need to do what is best for your dreams, visions and goals.
Life is all about choices. We have the freedom to make the choices we want, and every choice will have a consequence, whether intended or not. Learn from others, figure out your vision, test ideas and trust your gut. I believe in you, so go believe in yourself and make that huge impact you know you’re going to make.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by Entrepreneur.com.ph.