Remember the days when you had to listen to every lesson your parents and teachers told you? All those lessons you took as gospel truth, and if you disobeyed them you would be punished? Well, my fellow young business owner, your parents and teachers weren’t always right. When passing on those lessons they weren’t thinking about the future you.
Before I jump in, if you have any lessons from your childhood that have been disproved or successfully disobeyed by the young entrepreneur, I’d love to hear them.
1. “Don’t talk to strangers”
Every time I talk to a stranger one of three things happens; 1) I learn something new, 2) I add to my network of connections and people to learn from, 3) I realise that they have nothing to offer me, nor me them.
The common denominator here? = I learn something.
How often do you here successful entrepreneurs say that they learnt mostly from their mistakes,and from talking to people? So why then, were we constantly protected as children from talking to new people?
I’m 22, and if I’d spent my first year and a half in business not talking to strangers…well…I’d still be sat alone with nothing to do in my office. Strangers are the doors to tomorrows opportunities, talk to them, seek them out, and NEVER ignore them.
And, parents, aren’t new kids in the class strangers? Should your kid not talk to them? We learn from the people we talk to, so stop telling your children to not talk to new people…it could negatively affect their chances of success in professional life.
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2. “Respect your elders”
Why? Do they deserve my respect just for having been born before me? I think not. I know plenty of business people who are older than me, but are terrible business people. I know some who take client’s money having done a terrible job… do they deserve my respect?
I also know a couple of professional’s who are younger than me, and I haven’t really done anything to earn their respect.
Respect is born in the eye of the beholder. Respect is dished out on a situation by situation basis, based on factors such as quality of work, quality of advice etc.
The young entrepreneur who respects every professional older than him/her, purely for the reason of age, is in for a harsh lesson in the future. I’ve learnt that many an elder business person will actually try and deter you from doing certain things because they are afraid of being outshone by a younger professional…do they deserve my respect?
I have a rule of thumb which goes like this, “If I can’t learn something positive from you, I can’t respect you.”
Imagine if Mark Zuckerberg had taken every elders piece of advice offered to him. Would he have become the great innovator that he is?
3. “You must follow the rules”
Bollocks. Excuse the french, but this is the single most ridiculous lesson a child is ever taught. Without rule breaking there would never be innovation or growth. “You must obey the law”, I can understand. Laws are made (supposedly) to protect people. Rules are made to control people, often for a small selection of others’ gain. (I’m thinking teachers here).
Rules are for schools. Schools are where everyone is treated as equal, measured as equal, and released as equal. Everyone is not equal. If we were all to stick to the same rules we would have a yearly release of identical robots into the professional world. These robots would follow the same rules…and we’d still be in a world resembling the 1800s.
Now I’m not saying you must break every single rule ever made. You have to take each rule as it comes and decide on a situation by situation basis whether a rule needs to be broken, or merely bent. Steve Jobs bent the rule of pirating music by creating iTunes…look what brilliance came of that, and what new rules were created. Rules are more “offers of guidance”, but sometimes the trodden path is full up, and a new path must be formed.
My office landlady, Kavita Oberoi, has a fantastic story of how she broke rules to become one of the UKs most successful women entrepreneurs. Ask her about this lesson and see what she says.
Entrepreneurs break rules. Fact. And in todays business world, even employees sometimes have to break rules in order to improve their personal development/career and the business they work for. Breaking rules is often called innovation. Embrace it.
The first major “rule” I broke was to not go to University (my private school were in shock). That has worked out for me tremendously, and since then I have continued to break rules and create my own. I urge you to do the same.
So what rules have you broken as a (young) entrepreneur?
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