10 Lessons from Starting a Business in Your 20s

Key Takeaways:

  • Time is on your side in your 20s
  • Learn from your mistakes
  • You have the ability to gain invaluable leadership skills

Steve Jobs was 21 when he founded Apple. Bill Gates was 23 when he created Microsoft. Mark Zuckerberg was 19 during Facebook’s origin.

Some of the greatest businesses in the world were started by founders in their 20s.

I started a digital marketing agency and eCommerce company in my 20s. I learned invaluable lessons along the way that would be beneficial for any young entrepreneur contemplating or ready to start their own business.

When starting a business in your 20s, you will become a stronger leader and learn so much from real-life experience. Here’s a sampling of the lessons I absorbed:

1. Learn from Mistakes

I look back and cringe at some of the decisions I made in my early 20s. Each time there was a gaffe along the way, I was willing to learn from the mistake to further strengthen my company. There isn’t a business owner that is out there, even those in their 40s and 50s, that doesn’t continue to experience this on some level. Don’t be scared to make mistakes; be excited to learn from them.

2. Hire Good People

This is one of my biggest regrets. When I just started my business, there were few clients and less revenue. This caused me to not hire the best candidates due to salary constraints. I wish I had invested $10,000 to $20,000 more in hiring great team members.

When you have a great team member, the ship runs smoother, which ultimately leads to more business growth.

3. Be Consistent

It can be lonely running a business, especially at a young age. I recommend getting into routines and sticking with them.

When I was in my 20s, I would set my alarm every Saturday and Sunday morning for 6 a.m. so I could work on proactive items for my business. If there was a three-hour empty time slot late in the afternoon, I would make cold calls to businesses rather than call it quits for the day.

Be consistent and stick with a schedule.
 

4. Say Yes More Than No

When you’re in your 20s, experience is crucial. This will mean taking on projects or saying yes to things you wouldn’t touch in your 30s or later in your life.

It’s crucial you say yes to as many things as possible. Whether that’s completing a video shoot on a weekend for a reduced rate or going to a networking event, do it. The more times you say yes, the more opportunities will arise. You will also be able to learn what to say no to in the future.

5. Invest in Digital

Our digital marketing agency was able to grow because we were early adopters of SEO. Our eCommerce company was able to scale because we invested heavily into paid advertising.

Investing properly into digital is one of the places where you can grow rapidly. Work smarter, not harder.

6. Invest Time Into Your Craft

Best-selling author Malcom Gladwell famously stated that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in anything [source]. People aren’t going to pay you for your time, services or product if it’s not good.

Make sure to invest time into your craft. If you are too busy during the week, invest the time over the weekend. Follow industry experts on Twitter for the most updated information. Attend webinars and conferences.

7. Tell Your Brand Story

Social media gives you the perfect outlet to share your brand story. Don’t hide the fact that you’re starting your business out of your parents’ basement. People love this sort of content.

Make sure to document your journey. Post photos. Record videos and podcasts. Distribute your message to the masses!

8. Find Good External Resources

When you’re in your 20s and working on a shoestring budget, you attempt to do many things yourself. But you should instead look for great external resources.

I work with an amazing QuickBooks expert. Even though she charges more than $100, she finds ways to constantly save me money. It’s important that you have good financial and legal assistance throughout your journey.
 

9. Hold Yourself Accountable

There’s the famous saying: “The customer is always right.” That’s the approach you need to take when starting a business, especially in your 20s.

There are going to be times when you screw up. Don’t hide behind your mistakes. Hold yourself accountable and your customers will appreciate you more.
 

10. Find Time to Recharge

Running a business is taxing. You need to take breaks. Don’t stop hanging out with your friends. Make sure to book that vacation with your significant other. If you don’t step away from the business, it can cause more harm than good.

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Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.