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Senior Managing Director | The Opes Group LLC

Young Entrepreneurs Offer Advice to Aspiring Peers

Young entrepreneurs usually start their businesses with a very positive mindset. They tend to have a “you never know ‘till you try” mentality. They take their best idea at a given point in time and do everything in their power to make their dream a reality. It does however take more than a dream to make a business successful and every new business will encounter hurdles. Successful entrepreneurs learn from their mistakes and use them as stepping stones rather than tombstones.  Below I share a few stories of founders who overcome potentially disastrous situations.

Focus is crucial.

Jayson DeMers, the founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, recalls that several years ago his first business was operating fantastically. As a result, he began to dedicate time to a secondary business venture, but as his focus shifted, his initial company’s success faltered. He soon realized that although he was having fun working on the second venture, it was at the expense of his first company.

Two businesses need two full-time managers. DeMers ultimately shifted his attention back where it belonged, his first business, AudienceBloom. Today AudienceBloom is flourishing and Jayson’s second enterprise is no longer in operation. He had to make a choice. Unless a new venture has significant staffing support (usually not the case), it needs someone who is completely dedicated to getting it off the ground. A serious time commitment is needed and unless the second venture is related to the first venture it can be a mistake to start something new before building a proper foundation for the first venture.

Leverage mistakes.

The CEO and co-founder of ShareThrough, Dan Greenberg, shares insight from his first year with the company, “…you can’t build a business with two centers of gravity.” Although you may consider your ‘center of gravity’ to be your product, or your customers, or your market, the reality is your center of gravity is in fact a mix of what “you’re passionate about + what problem you want to solve + why that problem matters.”

Greenberg specifically mentions for that for ShareThrough, their center of gravity is “monetize the modern internet with meaningful content, beyond obnoxious ads.” Yet, by no means did Greenberg understand this inherently. Rather, it took trial and error, trial and tribulation you might say, for their focus to become clear. As their focus became clear, their processes became streamlined, and they were better able to maximize their ultimate efficiency.

The trial and error process can be daunting but sometimes that is the only way to refine a concept and one needs to develop a sixth sense in order to differentiate between learning points and endpoints.  

When one door closes, window open; be willing to pivot.

Meredith Valiando Rose (founder of DigiTour Media) says that although initial failures may seem insurmountable, they are often opportunities in disguise. A few years ago she was managing an artist who was dropped by Capital Records; she felt like a failure for having this happen on her watch.

The failure however allowed Rose to see where she was falling short. She later realized she could have prevented that situation had she been more aware of the significance of social media in modern marketing. As a result, she stared to implement more social media strategies in her toolkit.

This change in her approach led Meredith to develop an entirely new set of digital skills, which later led to her founding a new business: DigiTour. It was that initial failure, and a willingness to change gears that started her on the trajectory to becoming an entrepreneur.

Young entrepreneurs face several challenges in getting their businesses off the ground but they face even more once they actually start.  It is important to surround oneself with good mentors and learn from their past in order to have a smoother road ahead. In my next piece I will be discussing situations that may not be as recoverable as the above. Stay tuned.