Five Things About Entrepreneurship We Wish We Could Tell Our Younger Selves


As the saying goes, hindsight is always 20/20. Especially when it comes to being a founder. The good news is that learning is the ultimate sign of growth – and one of the special things about entrepreneurship is the great foundation it gives for learning through adapting and pivoting.

Our team is sharing some words of wisdom we have learned over the years that we have found especially helpful when it comes to everything from making those initial steps to entrepreneurship to turning an idea into a product or successful venture.

The Best Ideas Come from a Place of Purpose
This is something we have found helpful to remember when we are feeling frustrated by the creative process. Part of this can mean looking inward to personal passions and inspirations – or challenges you might be dreaming of tackling with enough time and resources – to bolster creativity and leverage experiences. Not only does having a strong purpose help shape and drive the mission and vision of a product or venture, but we have also found it helps to remember the “why” when the going gets tough.

Building a Strong Network Takes Time – But It’s Worth It
We know that networking is without a doubt a key driver of success in business and entrepreneurship. What no one tells you, though, is that building strong networking relationships doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time. We can attest that the effort is worth it – the right network is empowering and can open the door to countless opportunities.

Organizations like 1863 Ventures and Hello Alice present game-changing programs to help entrepreneurs make vital connections that open the door to networking summits, pitch competitions, and incubator programs all geared towards helping entrepreneurs succeed. Startup incubators and pre-accelerator programs are also great places to make connections while receiving expert mentorship and guidance in the transition to product building from the idea stage. Local pre-accelerator programs like the Entrepreneur Development Network DC provide scalable and affordable ways to connect with fellow founders and experienced entrepreneurs.

But you don’t need to pitch or apply to incubators right away, making connections with entrepreneurs in your inner circle or using LinkedIn as a tool is also a great way to jump in feet first. For those looking to give their connections a boost through social media, this Harvard Business Review article has some great
pointers for leveraging your LinkedIn presence to network like a pro – we second the recommendations of focusing on relationships with peers over building a network by seniority and taking advantages of transitional periods!

The Ultimate Product Might Differ (Sometimes by a lot!) From the Idea 
The saying and oft-repeated concept that all it takes is an idea – but having a plan to bring the idea to market is what will take your idea to the next level. It’s normal to feel stuck during this stage and feeling limited in the product’s potential. Don’t let this stop you! Keep in mind that the key startup model – the Lean, Scrum, and Agile methodologies all factor in early-stage releases with room for course correction and improvement. Maintaining a constant eye for improving and evolving fosters entrepreneurial growth. Staying flexible and open to the need for changes makes this growth process less challenging.

Getting past the stuck feeling requires an acceptance that “change is good” and when done early and often, can save you time and money – two of your most valuable resources as an entrepreneur. While we know it’s easier said than done, don’t let minor setbacks hold you back from the actual product build – chances are you have more to work with than you think!

Hustle Culture Is Real – And So Is Burnout
No matter what the end goal is, building anything from the ground up can be exhausting. It seems like you’re giving your all most days and in fact, are expected to give your all most of the time. Your strategizing, networking, creating, and testing non-stop. Recently, we’ve seen more focus on the side effects of this type of labor-intensive commitment – specifically around how unsustainable this truly is. Not only does keeping a constant grind have lasting impacts on mental and physical health, but it paints an unrealistic picture of entrepreneurship with the toxic positivity of the “tireless hustle.

In a time where many are struggling to prioritize time off as the boundaries between work and life have become grayer – and in the cases of entrepreneurs have always been gray, taking the time to take care of yourself is critical. Knowing when it’s time to hit the pause button and reset helps recharge the creative muscles, energy, and passion.

Embrace The Growing Pains
Building a product and scaling a business can be thrilling experiences. You’re finally putting that idea into motion, there’s interest from investors and the target audience, and doors are opening left and right. After many months and years of hard work, it might seem like you’re finally past some of the bigger challenges – until some roadblocks rear their heads again.

We’re here to say that this is normal and while it’s true that you can’t truly predict what these bumps in the road might be, preparing yourself to expect and embrace the unexpected as learning opportunities while knowing you’re not alone will help you navigate these challenges.

Stay tuned – more on navigating the ins and outs of entrepreneurship growing pains to come!

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