Advice for the 20 something

I’ve been lucky enough to speak at many colleges and groups where I’ve met people close to my age looking to start a business. Just like me, they have a dream that requires them to start – literally – from scratch. I’m always pegged with the same question, “What advice do you have for me?”

Let’s cut to the chase: Anything that I have done, I learned in the moment while it was happening to me. From trade marking a business name to getting building insurance, I figured it out along the way. It’s hard to wrap all that advice in one quote. It’s certainly not glitzy, that’s for sure.

When someone asks my advice on starting a business or inventing something, I think back to my own greatest challenge. Something that tested me mentally and physically. A bump in the road that made me think twice about what I was getting myself into.

And here is it: you’ve got to banish FOMO (that’s Fear Of Missing Out, for my non-millennials). My fellow 20-somethings: if you get intense pangs of jealousy while scrolling through your friends’ Facebook (maybe they went to a concert without you, for example), you’re in for a rude awakening.

When I opened Wicked Good Cupcakes as just a retail shop, I would work every day from open to close. This meant I would get home on a Friday after 8pm, which isn’t a big deal except that I would have to wake up around 4 AM the next day to start baking an hour later. This meant I was missing out on nights at the bar, concerts, birthday parties and even low-key bonfires. Even if I had the time, I wasn’t making a paycheck so I had barely enough money to put gas in my car to make it to work.

So I never went pool hopping that one time with everyone and a 12-pack of beer… I was working on a legacy of my own!

So I never went pool hopping that one time with everyone and a 12-pack of beer… I was working on a legacy of my own!

At some point, people stopped asking where I was. Eventually, I received fewer invitations to hang out. Yes, some people even stopped talking to me altogether.

People eventually moved on without me. They found new friends, made new memories… all of which I saw from my phone. In my darkest moment, I was convinced I was working myself into a lifetime of loneliness…

But that didn’t last long. I was so in love with my work that the long nights didn’t matter. My lack of fun stories to rehash wasn’t important. So I never went pool hopping that one time with everyone and a 12-pack of beer… I was working on a legacy of my own!

I cannot stress this enough (and I don’t mean to sound cruel): if you cringe at the thought of your friends going somewhere without you and posting their awesome good time to Instagram, then the life of an entrepreneur is not for you. Sorry, but if you would rather be out dancing at 2 AM than replying to a horde of emails about the pros and cons of different packaging materials, than it’s time to find another dream.

There is no balance between life and running your own business when you’re getting it off the ground. Instead, you’ll find yourself either working or sleeping. However, if you’re the right person for the job then you’ll want to give those nights up. You’ll want to skip the bar scene, stay out of the concert and keep away from the smoke of a bonfire – you’ve got more important things to do.