Vlad Moldavskiy is Partner and Chief Growth Officer at Mabbly, LLC.
Entrepreneurship -- it's the hot career path that millennials are choosing to pursue over rigid corporate jobs. It's the career path that puts you in charge of your life, letting you set your own work hours and get paid to pursue your passions. Entrepreneurship lets you create something from nothing.
But it's also a career that lets you grow as an individual and teaches you how to hack the growth of your business. While it's a stressful career that doesn't allow much time to sleep, the results more than make up for this loss and provide you with a sense of fulfillment.
I'm only 24 years old, but I've had the opportunity to think about the risks and rewards of being young in the entrepreneurial space. It's been a journey of trial and error with occasional guidance to steer me in the right direction. Out of all the things I've learned, here are the five lessons that stuck with me:
1. Build a strong relationship with your clients.
Building a relationship with your client shows them why you're valuable and how you're adding value to their business. It wasn't until I began working with clients face-to-face that I understood the importance of going beyond the scope of services I was already providing my clients. Making an extra introduction to a potential customer is a great way to establish trust between yourself and a client. It also shows that you care about their success and growth. Project planning is equally important when it comes to building a successful relationship with your client, and platforms like Teamwork make it easy to keep everyone on the same page. One thing I find useful is to determine ways to frequently touch base with your client so they see the value in your partnership. For example, I'll call a client every Friday to update them on what we've been working on so they feel kept in the loop.
2. Understand how to successfully raise capital.
I've been exposed to all the steps it takes to raise capital, from the legal preparations to the actual negotiations. For startups who are seeking investment, it's important to understand how the actual process of securing capital works. You'll need to approach investors with proof that your business is a unique idea and develop a compelling value proposition. I've raised money three times now and one thing investors look for is whether or not your company has demonstrated market traction. Thorough research that shows your startup can convert its product into a paying customer is critical to securing the capital your business needs.
3. Find the right mentor.
We all need a little help from time to time and that's exactly what mentors can provide less-experienced entrepreneurs. There are some areas of a business that I have no idea about, and it's useful to have a seasoned mentor who can steer me in the right direction. For every business I'm a part of, I like to have a business partner who acts a mentor and can show me the ropes of running a company. To actually find a mentor, figure out where you need help and ask other successful entrepreneurs for an introduction to those in their network. One area I personally need help with is building a more unified team culture, so I turned to Barry Saltzman of Culture Measures for advice. Barry currently mentors me on how to build a stronger team culture, but I also teach him about the things I've learned as a young millennial employee. Reverse mentorship is a huge game changer, as I find that older mentors value the insight I can provide them regarding millennials in the workplace.
4. You need a team you can leverage.
As an entrepreneur, it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget about the bigger picture. When I started in my career, I wasn't getting any sleep and I was constantly worried about getting things done. I took on the attitude of being able to do everything myself, and the act of not trusting my own coworkers to completely stunted the personal growth and development of my team. Delegating more tasks to your employees and empowering them with the resources they need can help accelerate your company's overall success. I still struggle to delegate every day, but as I've learned to let go, our team at Mabbly has grown exponentially (close to 351 percent just this year) and we're all able to take on a healthier work-life balance.
5. There's always a way to automate.
Technology is the backbone of business, and it's also what drives us forward. As millennials who grew up and adapted to technology, we have the ability to hack and automate technology to streamline our business processes. Look for tech that can make your everyday lives easier, like Slack for internal communications and Teamwork for keeping your all project management needs on a single platform. Before Slack, I had no clue where employees were communicating about tasks, and we were wasting time trying to find valuable documents. Now, communication amongst our team is 10 times more efficient and we can focus our energies towards projects instead. Another tech tool we've used to hack growth is Hubspot CRM. Like I mentioned before, keeping in constant contact with your clients is incredibly valuable, and a tool like Hubspot CRM makes it easy to recall whether you've reached out to a client recently.
There's no manual that can walk you through the world of entrepreneurship, but there are plenty of opportunities to learn from your mistakes along the way. The moments of discomfort are the times I've learned the most about who I am as an entrepreneur and how to accelerate my growth. Embrace that discomfort you feel when you don't have all the answers, and see what you learn from that uncertainty.