5 Lessons Young Entrepreneurs Mostly Learn the Hard Way

Starting a business is hard, and the difficulties often are compounded when you’re a young person beginning the entrepreneurial journey. There are many moving parts and resources you need but may not have access to.

I’m 34-years-old now and run a lifestyle business from my home on Maui, Hawaii. As I write this, I am preparing to speak at events in Madrid, Spain, and Marrakech, Morocco. The company organizing the events paid me a generous fee and covered all of my expenses. This business involves writing books and articles for some of the largest websites online, speaking all over the world and consulting for some cool companies, but this is my second go-around at entrepreneurship.

At 19, I started a successful service business that I ran into the ground. What could have been a great business turned into a nightmare because I ignored some important principles of entrepreneurship and life. Here is some advice I wish I would have known as a young entrepreneur.

1. You don’t know everything.

Young people, in general, struggle with a know-it-all complex. We may hear advice but too quickly dismiss it because we think we know what we should be doing. This can be a huge mistake.

Not all advice is beneficial, but wisdom from those that have gone before us is invaluable. No one can go back in time but learning from other entrepreneur’s mistakes is one way for us to avoid potential roadblocks. Be willing to at least listen and see if the advice can be beneficial for your business.

Related: Richard Branson on When Inexperience Is an Advantage

2. Don’t waste money on material possessions.

It feels good to own nice things. There’s nothing wrong with a nice place to live or a cool car, but material possessions will come and go. You can’t take them with you when you die. Eventually, they will bore you.

Entrepreneurship offers you benefits that extend far beyond the material. The chance to live a life of freedom and make an impact in people’s lives is priceless. The chance to live a life free of financial stress and to see the world is worth more than what you drive. Save your money and spend it on the things that you’ll look back on later in life and smile about. Choose experience over stuff.

3. Filter who you let in your life.

Who you allow in your life will either help or hurt what you’re trying to create. Negative people will feed into your doubt, fear, and self-limiting beliefs. Starting a business is hard enough without someone looking over your shoulder and pointing out what they think is “realistic.” Surround yourself with people who will lift you up and be the support you need to push through failure.

Related: 7 Toxic People to Avoid When Starting a Business

4. Stay humble.

Success can be something that encourages you to keep going, or it can go to your head. Having people share what you do and send you emails saying how great you are can easily make you think you’re bigger than you actually are. People connect with an entrepreneur they know, like, and trust. When you go around bragging about how great you are or how much money you’ve made, you will repel people.

5. Embrace what makes you unique.

Many young entrepreneurs waste time trying to be like someone they look up to. They conclude the key to their success is copying another successful entrepreneur. It’s not. When someone wants to do business, they will hire or buy from the original, not the clone.

People want to connect with you. They want to hear what you have to say and see how you can make a difference in their life. Embrace what makes you an entrepreneur. Dig deep and be honest. Just because a strategy or tactic worked for someone else rarely assures it will work for you.

Being an entrepreneur is hard, but it’s worth the struggle. You get the opportunity to live life on your terms and spend your time doing what is important to you. To get to that place of freedom, absorb these lessons from someone who’s been there.

I’ve have learned to listen to those who have gone before. I’ve learned the value of mentorship. Your future is bright and full of opportunities that didn’t exist before social media and the Internet. Take full advantage by spending time each day learning what you don’t know.

Related: 3 Insights About Entrepreneurship Inspired by Youth