When I think back to my college years, I had no way of knowing that I was ultimately bound for entrepreneurship. Back then, I was a cheerleader who studied law. My dream was to be a lawyer — and a Laker girl if I could pull off dual careers. Little did I know that years after I graduated, I would be presented with the opportunity to buy a business and become my own boss. I’m an entrepreneur now and I love it!
That being said, there are certain pieces of business advice I wish I had heard in college. If I could go back in time, I would sit my younger self down and share some of this wisdom with her. Although I may not have a time machine handy for that kind of thing, I can at least pass along these valuable tips to the next generation of millennial college entrepreneurs.
Think it over before responding to anything significant
I know that you’re thinking. We live in a world where we’re expected to be “on” and responsive at all times with email, text messages, and tweets. Why should anyone take a moment to think it over before hitting reply?
As an entrepreneur, you’ll need to make significant decisions both good and bad which can range from anything to a potential partnership to an interview feature on a major website. Instead of making hasty decisions, think for at least an hour before responding back. If it’s really significant, you might even want to sleep on it. Think things through first and remember that nothing needs to be answered right away. The opportunity can wait and with a clearer mind, you’ll have a better outcome.
“Lead from within, not from out front”
This has long been one of my favorite pieces of advice on how to control a business without being controlling. There’s a reason why startups are initially referred to as babies. You spend all of your time with them and can’t imagine allowing anyone else to take over.
Eventually though, babies grow up. And when they do, there are more responsibilities added to the mix. If you try to continue doing everything by yourself, you’ll eventually burn out. Whenever the time comes for you to hire your first employee, think strategically and take the process seriously. Surround yourself with a strong team that empowers your business and that you trust to keep the ship smoothly sailing without you at the helm.
“All I ask of you is one thing: please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism — it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard, and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”
I’ve always loved this quote from Conan O’Brien and believe that it sums up the journey of life so well, whether your own path is entrepreneurial or not. Small business is full of ups and downs and learning how to weather the many storms you might be ready (or not) for. Keep working hard and maintaining a positive, can-do attitude in everything you approach. Trust me — it will pay off.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation.