Your 20s are meant for hustling. While your friends are
enjoying “Sunday Funday” and going out on a Thursday night, you
can be growing your own business and laying the foundation for
your future success.
Millennials and Gen Zers have an amazing opportunity at their
fingertips. While our parents’ generation had to put in the
time and work their way up the corporate ladder, the
iGeneration and Net Generation have a quicker (and more fun!)
alternative. Since we grew up with technology, we have a
competitive advantage to build brands that rely on digital
marketing and technology.
Whether you want to create the next Snapchat, start a marketing
agency or become an Instagram influencer, it’s time to stop
stalking others’ lives on social media and get to work on your
1. Start a side hustle.
Most people underestimate how much time there is outside of
work if you have a standard 9-5 job. If you are working at a
job you dislike and want to be your own boss, stop complaining
about your current terrible job and take action. Grab a cup of
coffee after work and start hustling from 6 p.m to 2
a.m. on your new business venture.
If you are an artist, start posting YouTube videos about the
details behind your painting process. Open up an ecommerce
store on Shopify. Promote your products on Instagram. All
of this can be done as a side hustle while you grow your
business. Best of all, you are still collecting a paycheck from
2. Stop boozing.
If you are truly passionate about entrepreneurship, you will
quickly understand that the weekends are the most productive
time to get work done. You literally can put in 20 hours of
work on the weekend to grow your brand.
This isn’t going to happen if you are going to the bars on
Friday and Saturday night. First off, you are going to drain
your bank account from buying shots for all of your buddies.
Secondly, you are not going to be productive when you’re hung
Start setting your alarm clock and for 6:30 a.m. on the
weekends. Put in a full day of work. You won’t have any regrets
about missing a night or two out when you’re in your 30s and
have a million-dollar business.
Related: 50 Signs You Need to Start Your Own
3. Wake up early.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “The sun has not caught me in bed
in 50 years.” Apple CEO Tim Cook is known for getting up
early and sending out company emails at 4:30 in the morning.
The youngest CEO in the NBA, Brett Yormark, gets up at 3:30 in
the morning in order to get to the office by 4:30.
When it comes to business, the early bird catches the worm. You can
actually be playing offense rather than defense, which will
allow you to work on growing your business.
Make sure to put your alarm clock on the opposite side of the
room, which will force you to get out of bed and not hit the
snooze button. Do 50 pushups within 5 minutes of turning of
your alarm clock to truly wake yourself up. If you need
extra motivation for waking up early, follow Before 5
AM on Instagram.
4. Build your personal brand.
It blows my mind how much time people spend on social media
promoting themselves yet they don’t have a website that gives
people more information or a place where people can get in
contact with them.
Everyone should see if their first and last name is available
for purchase on GoDaddy. If you have a common name, insert your
middle name and your craft as part of the URL (example:
SarahSmithNYCArtist.com). The next time you go into a
business meeting, you’ll be amazed how much more impressed
people will be by your professional website.
5. Become an expert by contributing content.
In addition to owning a marketing and app development agency, I am also the
partner of an ecommerce skincare website that sells dermatology
strength products. We are constantly trying to get media
mentions from Glamour, Bustle and Teen Vogue. Do you know
what I discovered? A ton of the writers on these nationally
recognized sites are college students!
If you love sports, start reaching out to sites like YardBarker
to become a contributor. If you love fashion, what’s holding
you back for writing for Teen Vogue? This will boost your
personal brand, establish credibility and present new
opportunities you never imagined.
6. Talk it out.
When you are an entrepreneur, you live on a lonely island.
Nobody will ever realize just how much hustle you put in on a
daily basis. Your friends who work a 9-5 job won’t understand
how your business means the world to you.
Since entrepreneurship can be lonely, make sure you have
someone you can air it out with. Whether it is your girlfriend
or boyfriend, mom or dad, or just a mentor you can trust, in
order to grow, you need to be able to have a sounding board
along the journey.
7. Have patience.
The issue with the digital age that we live in is that people
are impatient. They expect results yesterday.
Bill Gates was famously quoted saying, “Most people
overestimate what they can do in
one year and underestimate what they can
do in ten years.”
In order to build a business, you need to be patient for the
long run. Don’t think about where you want your business to be
in a year; think about your goals for 10 years down the
road and how you are going to execute to make all of your
ambitions come to fruition. If you are in your 20s, what
will differentiate you as an entrepreneur is patience. Make
sure to move fast on getting stuff done but be patient for the
I’ve owned my company for seven years now. I know that
96 percent of businesses fail before turning
10. I keep that statistic in my mind each and every day
because I want to be part of the 4 percent that succeed
Each year you celebrate your business anniversary, your muscles
will continue to grow.
8. Make money.
I can’t stand all of the people who claim they are
entrepreneurs. One simple question separates the
contenders from the pretenders: “Are you generating
revenue?” There are so many people out there who claim to
be crushing it with their “entrepreneurial journey” but when
you dig into it, they aren’t generating a penny in revenue. I’m
not even getting into the details of generating a profit, which
is what every business must do to survive.
If you aren’t making money
with your business, you need to start and you need to start
soon. Just like a hockey team needs to score goals in
order to win a game, your business needs to make money to
actually be considered a business. Stop with the pretend stuff
and start selling your product or service.
9. Start meeting with millionaires.
On a monthly basis, start meeting with a millionaire
for coffee. You’ll be amazed that there is no secret sauce
to succeed in business. You’ll learn that hard work leads to
better luck and success. You’ll also become inspired and
motivated while listening to someone who has succeeded in the
If you try and meet with Evan Spiegal from Snapchat, you aren’t
going to have much luck. You’d be amazed, though, how many CEOs
of billion- and multi-million-dollar companies would be willing
to meet with you if you are persistent.
Don’t think for a second that you are the only one gaining
value from the meeting. The CEOs and founders that you meet
with — who will likely be in their 40s, 50s and 60s
— will be asking you a lot of questions. The reason?
Their customers are most likely your age, and they understand
the spending power of millennials and Gen Zers.
10. Become an SEO and paid advertising
Do you want to know a more efficient way to grow your business
than attending outdated networking events? Rank towards the top
of Google so people will contact you directly for business
inquires. Whether you just graduated from law school and
plan on opening up your own practice or you are selling
customized dog collars, SEO and paid ads can literally help any
This is one of the main reasons I’ve been able to grow my
marketing agency quickly and efficiently. In the Columbus, Ohio
markets, we crush it for terms like “social media company” and “SEO Company.”
There is no college degree or class you have to take to become
an SEO or PPC expert. You just have to get your hands dirty,
read articles and watch videos. If you are starting a
business, you need to be well versed in this area so you
can generate leads and sales online each and every day.
11. Be cheap.
Earlier in the article, I talked about how you can save money by
not going to the bars every weekend. Do everything you can to
be frugal with your money. You never know when the economy will
turn south or when your biggest client or customer will drop
off. If you are spending lavishly, you won’t be well prepared
for tough times.
Start eating more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and eat
out less. Stop buying clothes at Nordstrom and start shopping
at TJ Maxx.
Every dollar is so important when you are starting a business.
There’s a reason Warren Buffett has lived in the same house in
Omaha, Neb., that he bought for $58,000 in 1958. The real
winners in business are smart with their money.