A Message From One Young Entrepreneur To Another

We’re young.

I’m 25. How old are you?

Even though it might be difficult to realize sometimes, the truth is that we are too young to know what’s really happening around us. We’re too young to fully understand how much work goes into building incredible things.

And we’re too young to have built anything truly incredible, anyways.

Some of us have had to grow up quicker than others our age. That’s life, and that’s real. But I think we are misguided and even a bit delusional when it comes to finding entrepreneurial success at such a young age.

 

We see young “successful” entrepreneurs everywhere we look.

There’s Cody James, the 21-year old programmer whose startup, Adapt, sold tens of thousands of ear bud adapters that also charge your phone at the same time.

There’s Ann Makosinski, the 19-year old founder of Makotronics Enterprises and the creator of a flashlight that can be powered by the warmth of your hand.

And don’t forget about Caleb Maddix, the 15-year old speaker and author who wows crowds with his energy and apparent grasp of the business world.

Those are just three of the 30 youngsters in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 2017 edition.

Compared to their apparent success, it’s very easy to think that we haven’t done enough. Worse, we might think that we’re worthless because we haven’t achieved enough to be on Forbes’ 30 Under 30.

Even worse, we might truly believe that we’re supposed to be on the Forbes 30 Under 30.

We all seem to be shooting for that Magical Million. We want to be millionaires by 20 or 25 or 30 or whatever age, and we expect it to happen. But is that really our goal?

 

Rethinking a million bucks.

A million doesn’t make us successful.

If money is your goal–it’s one of mine–then take a step back with me and get perspective.

If you made $1,000,000 this year, then you’d find yourself in the the company of 1% of Americans in the same tax bracket. In fact, you could cut that number in half to $500,000 and still be in that 1% of taxpayers.

Let’s say you cut yourself a little slack. Instead of being in the tax bracket that only 1% of American taxpayers are in, you want to be with the 5%. Fine. You could do it by making $180,000 in adjusted gross income.

Top 10%? Make $130,000 this year and you’ll get your membership badge.

Top 25%? Make north of $75,000.

I thoroughly believe that monetary goals are healthy goals as long as we pursue them in a healthy way. So let me be super clear: I’m not advocating that you give up your monetary goals.

I just want you to rethink those goals, especially in regards to how they affect your self-esteem.

 

Rethinking the time and effort it takes to get there.

Nobody has become legitimately successful in 4 seconds. Or four months. Or even four years, for that matter.

Think back to the Forbes 30 Under 30. I promise you that our peers have things they still want to work on. They’ve got things they still want to invent, problems they still want to solve, and adventures they still want to take.

Everyone’s cheese has holes.

While it might seem like they experienced success in no time at all, they’ve put a ton of work into it. They’ve spent an incredible amount of time into whatever venture they’re building.

I’m emphasizing the time and work it took these people because I want to make sure we understand two very important facts.

First, just because we’re “putting in the time” that doesn’t mean that we’ll make it. Success doesn’t always come as a reward for putting in the time. There’s no consolation prize in this game. But a fact about success is that it won’t come unless you put in the time.

Patience is a prerequisite.

Second, everything they’ve achieved could go down the drain tomorrow. We don’t hope for it, but it’s possible. And it’s true for us too.

All of this is earned, but it’s also borrowed.

 

Stop comparing their highlights to your blooper reel.

Don’t be jealous. Stop your envy and idol worship. Instead, use their achievements as your motivation.

Put in the work. Legitimate, real, actual work. Move past running your mouth, and move towards running full speed ahead.

Move very fast in the moment, and slow down to plot your next step every now and again.

Largeness needs luck.

Good luck.