As a young entrepreneur, I am constantly underestimated. When people look at my age or appearance, consider the fact that I’m not even old enough to have graduated college, or refuse to believe me when I say I own a 7-figure business (seriously, Google is free!), I honestly feel a bit lucky. I’m reminded that, because I’m so young, I have plenty of years ahead of me to grow, learn, and develop even more entrepreneurship skills that will enable me to make a difference.
That said, I have learned so much since launching my business. These lessons have been a bit unconventional, for sure, and might sound a little cheesy, but I believe it’s important to get back to the basics sometimes. Whether you’re contemplating starting a side hustle, or you’ve been working at your craft for years, these three lessons I learned early on will be game changers.
1. Invest In Your Education
Knowledge is power, and the best way to empower yourself is to seek out education in all its many forms. As you think about what education means to you, try to step outside the norm of the high school-to-college pipeline way of thinking, and instead get creative with all the options available to you. Don’t cram yourself into one narrow box of learning – seek out the lessons and tools you need, invest in obtaining them, and watch your business flourish as a result.
This will require a bit of soul-searching. Consider the ways you’ve found you learn best. If you know you thrive in a classroom environment or do well managing assignments, a local college program or a structured online course might be for you. If you prefer sitting down with someone and learning from their experiences, find yourself a mentor in your industry who is willing to give some of their time and expertise. If you feel that a little bit of both appeals to you, a coaching program that teaches you skills while maintaining the flexibility to learn at your own pace might be the right fit.
2. Choose Your First Hire Carefully
The first person I ever hired was a salesperson. This might seem like an arbitrary choice, but I learned early on that if I didn’t have someone dedicated to selling my brand and my product, I was never going to achieve the level of success and financial freedom that I knew I could. I carefully considered which type of person would be the best asset to my goals and dreams, and then set about making that position and person a reality. It took a lot of trial and error to bring the right person onboard, but once they were…man oh man, it was magic.
Making a new hire, creating a new position, or leveling up your company from a one-man show to a team of two can feel really intimidating. But you’re investing in your product, your company, and your brand, and the right candidate will see that and will want to be a partner in your success. Taking that step was one of the best things I did for my company, and it opened up a world of possibilities I never could have accessed on my own.
3. Choose and Cultivate Partnerships
Speaking of which, one of the best – and quickest – lessons I learned when I began my entrepreneurship journey is the value of partnerships. I started my company when I was only 16, and since then have been helped by so many people who have chosen to come alongside me and give me the advice and gentle push in the right direction that I needed to succeed.
You’d be surprised at the way your relationships and mentorships can level up your business, so don’t be afraid to seek out both of those things – and plenty of them – as you grow your company. One of the best things to come out of my willingness to pursue meaningful partnerships is my friendship with fellow entrepreneur Billy Wilson. I started off as his mentee, and now the two of us are working together on a joint venture 6 Figure Agency Elite.
Above all else, the best lesson I learned is one that can’t really be quantified. I learned to trust my gut and believe that I will succeed, even when it seemed almost impossible to consider. We gain nothing by sidelining ourselves and, while the three lessons above were definitely learned through life’s school of hard knocks, I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. My experiences have made me and my business stronger because I was willing to learn from all of them.