I’ve made plenty of mistakes during my time as an entrepreneur. While I could have dwelled on them and got crushed by them, luckily I’ve always used them as lessons to push me forward. That being said, there’s a reason why mentors are usually those who are older than us.
Simply put, they’ve lived through the mistakes first hand and as such, know how to deal with any new problems that arise by thinking back on how they handled previous problems and applying these lessons to their current situation.
Now that I’m at an age where I frequently mentor young entrepreneurs, I honestly wish that I could tell my younger self some key lessons. Although there are many of them, here are my most important ones.
Learn to Say No – This one is one of the most difficult things to learn because we often see any new opportunity as an opportunity for growth. However, not all opportunities will be valuable in the long run. Take the time to evaluate your opportunities and cut the cord if it will act as a roadblock to your success.
Learn to Listen – Two ears and one mouth – they should be used in that order. Few people actually stop to take the time to listen, preventing them from truly understanding and learning. There are often times when you need to slow down because your deeper understanding of a subject that you got from listening will take you to the next level.
Don’t Be Afraid to Be You – We spend our childhood trying to fit in and our adult years trying to be different. Sometimes we never grow out of the desire to be like those around us. However, trying to be someone that you’re not will lead to an unfulfilled life. The best thing that you can offer those who you do business with is your genuine self. Your unique personality and insight is what your clients are truly after, since those traits and talents shine through your company.
These are the pieces of advice that I simply didn’t understand when I was younger. In fact, even I was to go back and tell my younger self this, I’m not sure if (a) I would understand or (b) if I would even listen. I believe that, for better or worse, people learn from harsh lessons rather than always heeding advice from others. It may not be simple, but try to keep your mentors advice in the back of your mind the next time you make a big decision.