It’s no secret that Millennials and startups go together like peanut butter and jelly. We’ve been dubbed the Startup Generation. We crave flexibility and freedom, and our technological aptitude has made it easier than ever for us to go out on our own.
But what does it actually take to be an entrepreneur? Of course, you need capital to fund your business, and maybe things like a go-to market strategy, product rollout plans, employees, and more. But there are also some less obvious tricks to being successful — things like seeking trusted advisors and realizing you may not have work/life separation for awhile.
I asked some of my startup founder friends — all in their 20s and early 30s — to share their own lessons from starting their companies soon after graduating from college.
1. Things don’t happen overnight
“Forget everything you have seen in the movies about entrepreneurship: It is often a slow, meandering road to success with unexpected surprises at each turn. They call startups ventures because they are, by nature, a modern-day adventure.”
– Brandon Siegenfeld, founder and CEO of Epistocracy
2. Failure can fuel your motivation
“For people that doubted you, prove them wrong. For people that fired you, show them how in-demand and successful you are. Each failure or challenge should serve as motivation; don’t waste time hating on people that didn’t see your potential.”
– Sara Shake, co-founder of Kali
3. You are the only thing standing in your own way
“You are your biggest barrier to entry. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but execution is rare, and well-advised execution is the rarest.”
– Stephanie Lampkin, founder and CEO of Blendoor
4. The journey is as rewarding as the outcome
“I think one of my greatest motivations to get started and overcome fears was the realization that taking on a new challenge and working to solve a problem you really care about can be rewarding on its own, regardless of whether you are ultimately successful with your venture.”
– Matthew Meehan, founder and president of Dvdendo
5. Success never happens in a vacuum
“Grow your network and share your ideas with whomever is willing to listen, because success never happens in a vacuum. The sooner you learn that it takes people to achieve your goals, the quicker you are in determining the right consumers to serve and the right people to surround yourself with in business and in life.”
– Jason Vitug, founder of Phroogal
6. But be choosy about who you let into your circle
“You can’t count on anyone else to make your business successful for you. It has to come from you. And I’ve learned I have to be so careful with who I trust to come into our company, because, unfortunately, there are people out there who want things for their own gain. That’s a really hard lesson that I have had to learn.”
– Ashley LeMieux, founder of The Shine Project, watch Ashley’s video here
7. Just start
“Getting started is half the battle. Sixty-six percent of Millennials want to start their own business, yet less than four percent of businesses are owned by someone under the age of 30. What’s the disconnect? Most people get stuck in an endless cycle of dreaming and making excuses for why those dreams won’t become a reality. If you want to make the transition from ‘wantrepreneur’ to entrepreneur, the No. 1, most important thing you can do is start taking action … today.”
– Dani Pascarella, founder and CEO of Invibed