10 Lessons Learned as a Young Entrepreneur in Your First Year

Ten Lessons Learned as a Young Entrepreneur in Your First Year

by Shana Steigerwalt

Today, as a 23 year old millennial, I am celebrating the one year anniversary of my business. In the past year, I have learned more about myself than my entire four years in college – my breaking points, my flaws, my passion, my motivations – all because I had just enough faith in myself to jump without knowing what was on the other side. Here are ten important lessons I have learned in my first year of business.

1. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
I don’t think anything can truly prepare you for the roller coaster of emotions you experience when becoming an entrepreneur and developing your own business. You will experience the highest highs, followed by your lowest lows. This is a journey not everyone is willing to embark on – the decision to start your own business already puts you ahead of most.

2. It’s going to take more time than you think.
Rome was not built in a day and neither will your company. It’s so easy to only see the end result, the big picture. Do not forget to celebrate the little victories because without them, you never move closer to your dream.

3. Mindset is half the battle.
If there is one simple change that I can contribute to Modern Driven Media’s success thus far, it is altering my mindset. Yes, it is difficult. Yes, there are days when you question if you are cut out for this. Yes, there will be set backs along the way. But, a negative attitude will never allow you to grow and succeed. Wake up each morning and look at the day as a new opportunity to build something great, to learn from yesterday’s mistakes, and to take a step closer to your end goal. Success lies on the other side of fear – do not let fear and negativity define your path.

4. Decide what you need to be good at vs what you want to be good at.
It is hard to trust others when it comes to building your business. As a business owner, you will wear a lot of hats – management, accounting, marketing, customer service, janitor…you name it, it falls into your lap – until you learn to delegate and outsource. From the start, determine what skills you need to master and what skills you need to trust in someone else.

5. Hiring for passion and work ethic over skill set and experience.
When you do finally learn the tasks that need to delegated, make sure you are choosing the right team members. It should be a required that all applicants should have a certain skill set in order to even be considered for a position on your team. As a start-up, you must hire individuals that share your passion and enthusiasm to grow and share your overall vision.

6. Surround yourself with people who encourage and inspire you.
Just like your team members, you need to continue to surround yourself with people who support you and motivate you to grow in your personal life. You will learn some friends do not understand that path you are taking and simply do not have your best interests at heart. Wish them the best, but eliminate these people immediately. They will question your decisions and completely bury you in self-doubt.

7. Not every client is your ideal client.
It is easy to feel obligated to work with any potential client that needs your services in your first year in business, but clients can be draining as well. The desire to build your income is enticing, but working with the wrong client will end up costing you more in the long run. Your time and energy is valuable. Identify who you ideal client is and do not be afraid to say no to a sale.

8. Your journey and your struggle is your story.
Every day in business is a learning experience. Take every set back as an opportunity to pivot and adjust to build something better. Failure is a matter of mindset. Without knowing what doesn’t work, how will you know what will work? Do not be ashamed of your journey, it ultimately defines who you are.

9. Find a work/life balance.
This is an area I still struggle with. Building a business is a lot of work – but when you jeopardize your health to put in the extra hours, you are not only hurting yourself, you are hurting your team and your business. Dedicating yourself to your career is admirable, but it is difficult to excel in your business when every other aspect of your life comes crashing down. Put your own personal well-being first, simple as that.

Although the journey may seem that way, you are not alone. You are not the only person who experiences downfalls, growing pains and frustration. Without learning each of the previous lessons, you will continue to feel alone.


Shana Steigerwalt 23 year-old Shana Steigerwalt is a recent graduate of West Chester University with a BA in Communication Studies currently residing in Philadelphia, PA.  She is the Founder and President of Modern Driven Media, LLC – a social media marketing company that helps SMB’s develop an online brand to build genuine relationships with current and potential customers.

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