Alright, alright, I know that after reading this title you might be wondering “Why would I take advice from a 20-year-old?”
I completely understand, and trust me - there are many times that I would agree that taking business advice from a young entrepreneur may seem foolish. However, in my few short years of starting my very own business, I’ve learned some valuable lessons that have helped me adapt and transform my company into a profitable enterprise.
When it comes to life and business, hindsight truly is 20/20. There are plenty of pieces of advice that I wish I could go back and give my 19-year-old self when starting out in business. However, if time travel were possible, here are the top 7 pieces of advice I’d pass along.
7 Thing I Wish I Could Tell My Younger Self:
1. Sales Copywriting Is EVERYTHING
This would be my number one piece of advice to my younger self: focus on sales copywriting!
Don’t let yourself get too caught up in aspects of your business such as graphic design, layout, theme, or visuals until you have mastered your sales copy.
While these elements are important to defining proper brand identity,
if you don’t have sales copy that informs, inspires, and drives action, you have nothing at all.
A great place to start learning about copywriting is by doing some research into its importance and purpose in your business. Two great resources that I’ve used are Web Copy That Sells by Maria Veloso and The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joseph Sugarman.
2. Discover Your Unique Value Proposition - And Drive It Home
Your business has a unique product, service, or characteristic that sets it apart from every other business in your field - your unique value proposition.
What is it? If you aren’t sure, then it’s time for you to figure that out quickly - because your value is what sells your business!
Once you know your UVP, blast it everywhere. Keep it on the front page of your website, on your business print materials, your social media, and more.
Make sure you are promoting yourself strategically by showing the why of your business’s existence rather than simply what you offer.
3. Ask People What You Are Doing Wrong
Nobody likes to receive negative feedback - let alone ask for it. But constructive critique and criticism may just be one of the most valuable gifts you ever receive.
There are plenty of ways to gain insight into how well you are really doing:
● Try asking your network of other business owners and entrepreneurs, as they often love to give advice to young entrepreneurs.
● Ask your current clients what you can improve on in your service.
● Reach out to a sales professional and ask them to give a quick look over your website to give some tips.
As you receive feedback, it is essential that you hear it and act. Evolve and adapt your business to respond to this type of feedback rather than laugh it off or get defensive. Stay humble and hustle, and watch as your business grows from honest adaptation.
4. Outsource Everything You Don’t Want To Do (After You’ve Learned To Do It Yourself)
A quick tip to give yourself the gift of bandwidth: outsource the work you don’t like to do.
As a business owner, there are tons of daily tasks and oversight I have to keep an eye on. Some parts I love to have my hands in, but others drain my motivation and creativity.
Take advantage of online freelancer markets such as Fiverr and UpWork to find a skilled contractor who can help take a load off your plate.
Another great way to do this is by working with people who live in your community. This not only establishes your business in the community but can help boost your brand awareness and legitimacy as you partner with local contractors.
5. Don’t Overpay Your Contractors & Employees
There’s an old adage that says “many small leaks sink a great ship.”
The same is true in your business.
When you are just starting out with your business, you will likely need to hire the help of contractors or freelancers to help you create content, build out your business, and take care of daily operations. But paying too many freelancers too much is how your ship will start to sink fast.
Find employees or contractors that can prove themselves by their quality of work. As they prove their worth, you can engage in conversations about how their pay may rise over time.
Be transparent about this! Don’t drag on a team member by promising them more money without any expectations or timeline. You may find that you lose a powerful ally in your business early on because you were too afraid to be honest about money.
Remember: If you have a great business idea and model, employees or contractors are going to want to be part of it for the long run.
6. Find A Mentor
When it comes to succeeding in business - especially as an entrepreneur, passion is great. But passion alone isn’t always enough to keep you from making mistakes.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned too late into my young career was the need to find a mentor.
Not just someone in your industry, but a guru who is much farther along in your business and personal journey than you are.
A simple piece of advice from someone more knowledgeable than you can save you pain, problems, and potential failure early on.
Study your mentor’s story and listen to their guidance. Learn the mistakes they made - and how to make sure you don’t make the same ones.
When finding a mentor, make sure that the relationships come naturally. Don’t just expect someone to be willing to mentor you without some level of relationship and familiarity.
7. It Typically Doesn’t Make Sense To Reinvent The Wheel
As a young entrepreneur, I had great aspirations and goals to change my industry with an Apple or Tesla-style innovation. You know - a product of service that was going to blow away the market and make me millions of dollars.
The desire to create is necessary for motivation, but you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. In fact, one of the best ways to make sure you survive long-term is to innovate on ideas that are currently successful.
Here’s a pro-tip: Find 5 businesses in your niche and save their website addresses in a folder somewhere you can access quickly. Keep up to date on what those businesses are doing and make sure that you aren’t falling behind your competition without even knowing.
Don’t blatantly copy your competition. Instead, use them to draw inspiration for your own unique contribution. This type of shared knowledge and creative design is a standard practice in every industry.
Learning From The Past Creates Future Success
When it comes to my journey in business, I wish there was a way to build a reverse time-capsule. Then I could take these seven insights and send them back to my younger self - helping me avoid tons of wasted time and effort.
Thankfully, nothing is truly wasted in our entrepreneurial journey. In fact, it’s in learning these hard lessons that I’ve been able to find success today! Consider these seven lessons my gift to you - especially if you are a young entrepreneur yourself. Study up, take risks, and don’t be afraid to fail!
- Justin J. Moore