As a young professional, there are so many directions you could go in. So many people to meet! So many skills to learn! With all of those choices, what’s the best way to invest in your career?
If you make an effort to set yourself up for success early on, you will reap the benefits for years to come. That’s why we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council: What’s one thing you did at the beginning of your career that’s helping you now?
Always get back with people
Always get back with someone whether it was through the phone or email. When I first started out I always told myself that I would answer every email and phone call even if it was just a quick reply back. If someone took the time to contact you, the least you can do is acknowledge them. If you don’t, you may just miss out on some golden opportunities and networking contacts.
Help a promising startup for free
When you are first starting out as an entrepreneur, one of your first challenges is to separate yourself from the pack and legitimizing yourself. One great way to do so (that not many think of) is to offer your skills to an up and coming startup for free! Through this approach you will learn from established entrepreneurs while attaching your name to a startup with promise.
Try often and fail fast
I am successful today because of the failures in my past. Each entrepreneur defines their own path to success through successive failures along the way. It is this collection of failures that builds the knowledge and expertise to be successful as an entrepreneur. You can’t be afraid to try and you will likely fail. The sooner you accept that and try anyway the sooner you will be successful.
I networked like crazy, non-stop, went to events constantly, and got my name out there. As a result, in a few years, people started saying “you know everyone!” I always connected interesting people together too. So, whenever I’ve needed an important contact, I’ve always had people bend over backwards to help me out! To this day, I’m still blown away by the people I meet and things I get to do.
If I hadn’t decided early on that my company did not need a physical office space, we would probably still be working toward profitability. You’d be surprised how much capital you save every month getting rid of the expenses that are absolutely unnecessary. Besides, I’d confidently argue that working remotely often makes a team more productive.
Decide to rebel
My first entrepreneurial thought was that I knew a better way to do things, and I should act on that. This thought isn’t always true, of course, but I took enough risks and made enough decisions based not going with the flow and trusting myself over someone else’s opinion that I was able to establish myself quickly in several congested fields.
Form strategic alliances
The best thing I did at the beginning of my career was to form strategic alliances with people who had been in the business world longer then I had. These relationships are invaluable to me. As a solopreneur, you often find yourself learning everything on the spot. Having these relationships has helped me to foster mentorship relationships with these partners, which always helps me learn.
Anytime I interfaced with a client I would tell them when I would follow up along with what to expect. After each call I brainstormed a quick way to “knock their socks off.” This one technique helped me grow my business rapidly solely through word of mouth.
Tell people about your audacious plans
People thought I was crazy when I claimed that I would be a published author as a teen–especially since I had zero background in writing. But I shared this goal with enthusiasm and confidence. While some people laughed, key people recognized my passion and conviction and offered to help by introducing me to decision-makers, mentors, and even sources of financial aid. Share your vision and act big.
Build your safety net
Mentoring is something I’m insanely passionate about. After finding out that having a mentor would send me in a Ferrari on the road to success, I pursued not only one, but several mentors. Some for career stuff, others for life advice, relationships, etc. Having that safety net made the decision to quit my corporate job and start out here on my own that much easier. Without it, I wouldn’t be here.
What else would you add?