As the class of 2014 graduates, many in it will look to start companies of their own (if they haven't already). We asked 14 YEC members to share their best tips for all of the ambitious grads who are just itching to be their own boss.
1. Get Started
Entrepreneurship is like playing in a rock band--lots of people want to do it, but few are actually going to put in the time and effort to get good and keep moving when things get tough. Don't just tell people you're "interested in startups." Actually start something, even if it's on the side. It's never going to get any easier.
2. Believe in Yourself
The one differentiating factor I've seen between successful entrepreneurs and those who fail is confidence. Stop listening to what everything everyone tells you, and stop getting intimidated by your competitors. If you're not building something that makes you confident that you'll be the ultimate winner in your industry, iterate. If YOU don't think you're building a winner, no one else will.
3. Be Willing to Fail
Without risk, there is no reward. I can't tell you how many people over the years have come to me saying, "Man, I've had this idea for a while now, and I think it's a really good one." My question to them is always, "So why haven't you done anything about it?" Don't sit on your ideas. If you do, someone else will do it and probably do it better. Be willing to fail in order to succeed.
4. Get a Job
Getting a job gives you some much-needed business experience and some life-supporting income, allowing you to make better decisions for your startup. Plus, building your business as a side hustle allows you to prove your idea has potential before diving in headfirst.
--Justin Spring, BringShare
5. Be Decisive
The most successful startup leaders recognize that they do not have time to get all the facts for the dozens of decisions they make each day. Instead, they need to gather just enough information to make sound decisions so their company can move forward. Some of those decisions will be wrong, but it is better to learn from those mistakes and try again than to be immobilized by indecision.
6. Be an Entrepreneur Wherever You Are
People often think that being an entrepreneur equates to starting a business. For some, this is true. But I encourage those going into already-established companies to maintain the entrepreneurial spirit. Innovation comes from those who may not already be entrenched in the company's culture, and being young can help differentiate your opinions.
7. Find a Mentor
We've all made our share of mistakes and wish, in retrospect, that someone had been there to help us find our way. Find a mentor who can begin supporting you, right now, to avoid your own missteps. You may not stay with this mentor for five years, but his or her network, guidance, and time is an invaluable resource you can't get in a college course or buy on Amazon.
8. Do Something Crazy
As a recent graduate, you have the opportunity to do almost anything. You've not yet been faced with the responsibilities that come later in life. It's the ideal time to take some big risks. To pursue audacious ideas. To push your creativity to its greatest bounds. To do something crazy. Make a decision that makes parents furious and friends jealous. Great risks come with great rewards.
Remember to laugh and find joy in what you do. An IPO, hitting it big, and securing $100 million in VC funding are all great. But at the end of the day, if you can't catch a laugh from a client or enjoy a great idea a teammate had, it won't be worth it. No one remembers how much your company sold for or what accolades you won, but people will remember how you made them feel.
10. Work Hard to Be Lucky
The harder you work, the luckier you get. Opportunities are everywhere, so open your eyes and seize them.
11. Do It for Impact, Not Money
There is no better time than now to start a company. When you do, please do not do it for the money. Define who you are, what you stand for, and envision the impact you can make. Then go for it. Go out, change the world, and be dialed in to who you are. Be you in 100 percent of everything you do.
12. Do What You Love
Do what you love first, and the money will follow.
13. Make Friends
You're not alone. There are others out there just like you with big dreams. If you aren't already a part of your local startup community, find ways to get involved. You'll need help, and you're sure to find others who will, too. Great relationships are forged through networking. It might be hard to break through at first, but keep trying. It will be worth it.