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The 3 Most Important Lessons I’ve Learned From Starting Up


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I’ve been an entrepreneur for more than half of my life. At 16, I founded Buzz Marketing Group, the youth marketing and influencer agency I still run today. It’s been a long road to get to where I am today, but I’ve loved every minute of this journey. Back in 1996, it was rare to be a teen entrepreneur. Now, I feel old!

But wisdom certainly comes with age and experience, and I’m happy to share with you some tips that have helped me throughout my career.

1.  Always remember that everyone is important. There are no little people.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people ignore my assistant or employees, thinking they can directly connect with me. I surround myself with people much smarter and better than me in all areas, and those people deserve respect.

Today’s assistant is tomorrow’s vice president. How you treat people matters. In today’s world, your main contact could change positions overnight. It’s important to treat everyone with equal importance. And make sure this is authentic. I genuinely care about the people I work with, their families, their lives. It’s important to be totally vested.

2.  You can always make more money, but you can never make more time. Use your time wisely.

I’m more likely to be upset by a 30-minute delay in a meeting than a 10 percent reduction to an invoice. I always tell my team: we can make more money, but we can never make more time. Repeat this to yourself all day long. Focus on ways to be more efficient, delegate projects to someone who can do it quicker and better and do not waste time. And please, please, please don’t waste time in meetings that don’t yield results

I’m a big fan of Action Method and their process for making ideas happen. Always make sure meetings include action steps so it’s easier to pass along information to the right person to yield the right results. Make sure everyone understands the next steps and owns their next step. This saves time that can ultimately be put to use doing something else. Miscommunication and lack of clarity are big time suckers, and getting a handle on these issues will save you time and increase your bottom line.

3.  If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

This doesn’t mean you need to script every detail of your life, but you need to have a roadmap. Even though I use the word “plan,” I really mean you need to have a vision. Where do you see yourself? Do you meditate on this vision? Can you see what it takes to get to that vision? Too often we get caught up in the minute details of things, and we lose focus on the big picture.

You have to give yourself time to do a daily check-in. For me, this happens first thing in the morning. I spend 15 to 30 minutes in a quiet mental space. This helps me go into my day fully focused. I also spend at least 15 minutes “free writing,” hoping to open up my creative space. I always get new ideas or think of solutions to existing problems. As entrepreneurs, if we can’t get ourselves into a place where we can innovate or problem solve, this is a problem. So always make sure you have a notebook (or smartphone) with you to take quick notes when an idea or solution comes to you. And focus on your vision.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

Image Credit: CC by mario

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About the author: Tina Wells

Tina Wells, founder and CEO of Buzz Marketing Group, earned her B.A. in communication arts, graduating with honors, from Hood College in 2002. She is the author of the tween series Mackenzie Blue, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books.

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