We're bringing you advice from those who've lived entrepreneurship themselves. While they may lack the gray beards of wisdom, there's plenty we can learn from these under-40 entrepreneurial experts.

1. Startups Require Self-Sufficient Learners

Joining a startup can be an exciting opportunity to wear many different hats, but you'll need to be self-sufficient if you want to learn. As Lisa Falzone, CEO and co-founder of Revel Systems notes in a Forbes interview, "Early-stage companies just don't have the time or the manpower to train people."

Falzone explains that if you're self-motivated to learn as you go, a startup may work as your sweet spot. Today it's easier than ever to learn on your own. From Lynda tutorials to Web Design 101 e-courses, there's endless information at your fingertips. It simply becomes a matter of what type of learner you are. If you work better in a structured learning environment, you may be better off at a bigger company.

2. You Need a Team of All-Stars

Finding your dream team is essential for startup success, so don't rush the process. "I always find it's best to wait for the right hire," Lisa Falzone notes.  She waited 9 months to hire a head of HR, explaining that she'd rather hire the right person the first time around than have to ditch employees that weren't right for the job.

Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley agrees, comparing the recruitment process to art collecting. As Crowley notes, leaders need to "make sure the people who are great stay and the people who aren't as good get the help they need to become great."

3. Passion Beats Out Pedigree

Startups don't need to be composed of Ivy League graduates and ex-Google employees. Rand Fishkin of Moz says he'd much rather have a team of people who share the same values, beliefs, and mission. "I like the outliers," says Fishkin, "the dropout from state school who feels excited and privileged to work somewhere they don't have to feel insecure, the woman who barely knew how to code a year ago but is teaching herself by doing."

Fishkin says that those candidates ignored by others have been some of Moz's very best hires and proved indispensable in Moz's greenhorn days. Employees who resonate with the company's core values will be infinitely more valuable than the folks who cross their fingers on getting acquired so that they can buy their house in Silicon Valley.

"Don't be stymied because you can't find a résumé that fits the startup world's preconceived notions of 'quality,' " says Fishkin. "Meet and interview people whose passion for their craft and excitement about your project intersect with shared values and opinions on how a company should be built."

4. You'll Probably Fail, and That's OK.

You'll hear entrepreneurs talking a lot about the upside to failure. It sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, but finding the silver lining is essential. Considering that up to 80 percent of startups fail, your chances of falling flat are pretty good.

Most entrepreneurs have at least one (sometimes many) failures under their belt before they hit their jackpot idea. As Drew Houston, Dropbox founder and CEO notes, "Don't worry about failure; you only have to be right once."

The real danger comes from turning a blind eye to the foreboding omens; sometimes you need to know when to wave the white flag and move on. Many entrepreneurs use past failures as the ground foundation for their next startup, taking the lessons they learned from those not-so-successful ventures and building something 10x better.

5. Ignore the Haters

The biggest thing young entrepreneurs agree on is that, as a startup, you're going to face adversity. As Kevin Rose, Founder of Digg.com and Podcaster, notes in one interview, "You don't need anyone's approval and in fact, you probably won't get it, so don't even try. Build, release, and iterate." People will try to drag you down, some with well-meaning intent, others out of pettiness or jealously.

"Your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur is not concealing your idea from others or keeping your idea a secret," says Sean Parker, Founder of Napster. "It is actually convincing people that you're not crazy and that you can pull this off."

So take comfort, would-be entrepreneurs, you're not crazy. That's not entirely true--you may be a crazy genius!

Published on: Nov 5, 2014
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