Long-term Perspectives for Young Entrepreneurs

I was talking with my friend Penelope Trunk (side note: BUY HER BOOK, like everything else about her, it’s great), who encouraged me to post a few of the tidbits I shared. Thank you, Penelope.

I work a lot with young entrepreneurs, which means that I work with a lot of first-time entrepreneurs. Some of the most valuable advice I give them is to take a long-term perspective.

“Don’t confuse effort with results.”

The romanticized image of working 24/7 often causes young entrepreneurs to think that the key to success is hard work. Hard work is necessary, but not sufficient. The smart entrepreneur focuses on results, rather than simply trying to outwork the competition.

“Don’t let your natural instinct for action overwhelm your view of the big picture.”

Many entrepreneurs, being action-oriented, think that the first thing to do when a challenge arises is to rush into solving it. WRONG! Reacting instantaneously to everything that happens is a certain recipe for incoherent strategy and business disaster. It’s like the dieter who weighs himself every day–basing his self-worth and actions on a metric that naturally varies on a day-to-day basis. Unless you learn something that invalidates your strategy and goals, it’s best to focus on the important things, rather than the urgent ones.

“There will be times when you feel invincible. There will be times when you feel doomed. You’re wrong in both cases.”

Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster ride. If you treat each step forward as a triumph, and each step backwards as a tragedy, you’ll find yourself emotionally exhausted and, likely, making bad decisions. Keep your eye on the big picture, and don’t let the highs and lows get away from you.

9 thoughts on “Long-term Perspectives for Young Entrepreneurs

  1. Sherlock Kevlin

    I absolutely agree with your statement of looking at the big picture. I think it is the wisest advice any entrepreneaur (new or experienced) could ever get. Thanks everything, Chris!

  2. Lester Topaz

    I love reading your blog.

    I would be interested to know what pushed you to be an entrepreneur.

    I’m also curious to know what makes you want to help out young entrepreneurs. I applaud your generosity but I,personally, know very few people as such.

  3. Hi, Chris.

    You have actually added some bonus items in here that you did not tell me on the phone. So, thanks for that. I love the part about not confusing effort with results. I wish that all hard work lead to great results. Things would be so much easier. But thanks for the reminder that I need to be smart, too 🙂


  4. Sherlock, Penelope:

    Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad you like the blog!

  5. Lester:

    I became an entrepreneur because I find it a lot of fun, despite the rollercoaster. As I often tell young entrepreneurs, if you want to make money, don’t become an entrepreneur. Working on Wall Street is a much surer path to wealth.

    The reasons I help young entrepreneurs are simple. One, I love teaching and coaching. Always have. And while I could do it on a paid basis, I prefer the opportunity to choose my “clients”.

    Two, I am well aware of the fact that I am getting older. There was recently a controversial post on how great companies are usually founded by entrepreneurs under 30. I’m on the other side of that divide, so working with young entrepreneurs helps keep me relevant and in touch.

  6. That’s great advice. When I’m doing my “day” job, writing and producing television, I have a rule: when anything comes up — a problem, a network ‘concern’, anything — I say “I’ll take a look at that” and then wait a half-day, or even a couple of days. A lot of the time, the problem either goes away, or crystallizes into something really specific. I have a hard time, though, in my entrepreneurial web-startup life doing the same thing. I need to learn to think about sites like Techcrunch and Mashable and Alarm:Clock the way I think about the show business trade papers: read them if you must, but don’t do anything or change anything in reaction to what you read there. In other words, I know it’s a fast-paced space and things are changing quickly, but “not freaking out” is a good general rule…

  7. Anonymous

    Thanks Chris that is sound advice “look at the big picture” can be applied to relationships as well !

  8. Next time I’d suggest telling people what the book is about, instead of just saying “buy her book”. We don’t want to be sold reading someones blog, but we do like to know your opinion on it.

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