This might come as a surprise to people. Yes, I started a business at 18. To be honest, I had no clue what was I doing, but I threw off the bowlines and set sail. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s had its memorable moments. Over the course of a year and a half, I’ve learned quite a few lessons. From those experiences, I feel justified in sharing five of them with you.
1. How to overcome negativity.
When you start out in the business world, it's inevitable you will meet failure along the way. Sometimes the ambiance of failure is around the corner, but — most of the time — you won’t notice it was lurking in the shadows. If you have a positive mindset, you can overcome the obstacles that will be in your way.
In the beginning, I'd look at everything terrible that happened and question the world. The “why me” syndrome showed its head numerous times. After taking to meditation and yoga, I confronted everything in a new light. My idol, Steve Jobs, once said, “You can't connect the dots looking forward, only backwards.”
Beyond my belief, every failure I’ve encountered ended up making a turn for the better. I've developed a different mindset for the failures that come my way. When something doesn’t go my way, I understand that I can handle it. I’ve learned to trust that everything happens for a reason, but you have to be the one to trace the steps backward. Your mind will believe what you tell it; make sure you’re feeding it positive information.
2. Others want to help.
In the beginning, I had no clue where to start. During a meditation session, an idea popped into my head. The idea was to send out emails to entrepreneurs whom I looked up to, asking for their advice. I figured I could learn from them. I'd tell them I’m a new entrepreneur, and I’d love to pick their brain for two minutes.
To my astonishment, the next morning when I woke up, I received a few replies. The beam on my face resembled a child on Christmas morning. Almost all the people I emailed agreed to talk on the phone with me.
I went after people higher in my industry. Because of this one idea, I’ve been able to talk to best-selling authors, tremendous entrepreneurs, multi-millionaires, and even a Hollywood actress.
If you don’t ask, you never know. People are always willing to give you advice.
Follow your idea no matter if you think it's good or not, it might lead you exactly to where you need to be.
3. Employers care about your portfolio.
Through my businesses, I became proficient at social media marketing. When I looked around, I noticed that small businesses in my town needed the help. I’m still in school and knew that I didn't have the leverage to start a full-fledged company.
I emailed the owner of a marketing company in my town. I told him who I was, and I’d love to learn from him.
To make the story short, a few days later I met with him at his office. We spent an hour and a half discussing marketing and my businesses. Not once did he ask where I was going to college. I showed him what I had done, and that spoke for itself.
If you want to get an edge over someone else when applying for a job, I recommend starting a business. It can be nerve-wracking at first, but the knowledge you gain is invaluable.
If you put your idea off today, it might never see the light of day tomorrow.
4. You’re not perfect.
When building my first business, I gained the notion I had to do everything on my own. Over the course of my first year as an entrepreneur, I burned out. It’s not fun, and I wasn’t sure what to do. It was one of the lower points on my journey.
I did deep soul searching and decided to sit down with a notebook, creating two columns. One column held the tasks I liked to do and one column the tasks I despised to do. What I ended up doing was outsourcing the work I didn’t prefer to do. I soon came to realize how much of a relief it was not to have to do everything on my own.
I tried to be perfect and have everything my way in the business, but this is a recipe for disaster.
Find others who will support you and help you. You will need your friends and family more than ever. You may not realize much of it while starting out, but surrounding yourself with uplifting and encouraging people can mean the difference between success and failure.
You don’t have to be perfect to be successful.
5. Just be you.
When going into business for the first time, our minds can be manipulated by other circumstances outside of our control. We can see others have an overnight success and develop a taste of envy. We can chase the hot item or the upcoming trend, but let me tell you, this doesn’t last for long.
In one of my earlier failed businesses, I was in it for the money. Yes, I made good money, but I wasn’t happy. I dreaded working and was hesitant to even talk to others about my business.
If you chase your passion, money will follow, I guarantee it. I’ve followed the money, and I’ve followed my passion, both of which led me to different paths. I learned that I’d rather be making 100k a year doing something I love than making 1 million a year doing something I hate. Life is just too short not to follow your heart.
After having gone through the ups and downs, I’m ready for wherever I might find myself next on the journey. If there's anything I’d incline you to take away from this article, have fun chasing your passion. Create something that wakes you up before the sunrise and has you staying up into the moonlight.
Don’t stop following your dreams because we're all rooting for you.
Trevor is a 19-year-old entrepreneur who's had eleutheromania ever since he can remember. When he’s not working or studying, you can catch him by the ocean taking photos of the world in which surrounds us. Trevor is the founder of Trevor James Products and co-founder of Become The Lion.