13 Career Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

The following answers are provided by members of the Young Entreprenuer Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

What’s one suggestion you’d give an aspiring entrepreneur in terms of prior work experience? Should they freelance? Work at a startup first? Go corporate? All of the above?

Work at a Startup First
I think it is most beneficial to work at a startup first. You will get to see the ins and outs of how a new business operates from all levels. You can gain valuable insight as to what works and what doesn’t work. This would closely mimic starting your own company.
Jeff TestermanBROKERHUNTER.com

 

Commit to What You Want to Do

Many people will tell you that if you have never done something before, you will never be able to do it. They are giving you this advice because they don’t know a way it can be done. Entrepreneurs are the ones who find a way or make the way. Sure, freelancing or working at a startup or corporation is great, but you should get clear on what you want, and go after it like your life depends on it.
Louis LautmanSupreme Outsourcing

Get Work Experience

One of the biggest things that would have helped me with my business is having prior work experience with an established company. I would have examined their day-to-day and multiple departments to see what different parts are needed for a successful business. I learned later that a successful business requires more than revenues coming in or out — it requires a stable foundation.
Shahzil (Shaz) AminBlue Track Media, LLC

Freelance

If you’re thinking about starting your own company, freelancing is the first step! First of all, a one-person business IS a business — many freelancers fail because they aren’t thinking entrepreneurially. I maxed out my solo freelance business before I moved on to building my team. It taught me the basics of business: making clients happy and managing cash flow.
Laura RoederLKR Social Media

Build Your Tool Kit, No Matter Where You Go

Entrepreneurs need to be proficient with customer service, product development, strategy, finance, team-building and, well, everything. Thus, any work experience is incredibly valuable. As a management consultant, I learned how to communicate clearly, work on a team and work hard. Every role in every industry will teach you — just pay attention to the success stories and develop your skills.
Aaron SchwartzModify Watches

Take the Plunge

Dive in. Being an entrepreneur means constantly meeting new and unexpected challenges head-on. You’re the master of your own destiny and must learn to overcome all obstacles. Take the plunge, and you’ll hopefully rise to the top.
- Nicolas Gremion, Foboko.com

 

Just Don’t Lose Your Spirit

Prior work experience can be helpful. Working at a startup can be great experience, but be careful signing contracts, as a non-compete may limit your options after working there. Freelancing can bind you to similar restraints, but you’ll gain good experience. Going corporate can also be beneficial to learn how the best of the best companies run things. Just don’t lose your entrepreneurial spirit!
- Joe Barton, Barton Publishing

Start Corporate

There is a lot of value in spending some time at a big corporation. You will be trained by industry experts and get a glimpse of what makes a big corporation successful. I spent some time at an investment bank prior to founding my company, and I consider the experience invaluable.
Josh WeissBluegala

 

Learn an Industry

It is really important to have experience in the workplace first, but not a lot of work. Go to grad school, gain some experience and learn some skills in the industry. When raising money, it is not enough to have a great idea. Most people will want someone with experience who can control the business. The CEO needs to be hireable for the business. Experience is important.
Jordan FliegelCoachUp, Inc.

Learn From Others’ Mistakes and Experiences

Work with a successful entrepreneur first so you learn from his or her experience. Once you are confident that you have learned all that you can, then it’s time to leave and start off on your own or jump to another startup.
John HallDigital Talent Agents

 

Shut Up and Start Up

There’s no role or coarse that can teach you enough of what you need to know when you’re starting up on your own. What you will learn from starting up will be far more than any entrepreneurship books and startup jobs put together. If you want to start your own company, just do it. Do not wait for the tide to come and sweep you away when you’re standing miles away from the shore.
Rahul VarshneyaArkenea

Know the Industry

Working in a corporation gives you good connections, but it also limits your understanding to a world where funds are not an issue, and problem solving a business issue without a large budget is often unnecessary. The key is working in the industry you want to be in — that’s where startups are often born. Your experiences show you what that industry needs, and you can create it for them.
Benish ShahVicaire Ny

Get on a Founding Team

For the best bang for your buck, I wouldn’t just work at a startup, but work on a founding team. Being the first to fifth hire will enable you to learn basically what it takes to run a company, from top to bottom. Those first hires have to wear many hats, and you can learn how to be an entrepreneur on other people’s time and money.
Liam MartinStaff.com

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  • Tiffany

    What about start up fees!!!Do i need a business plan? What kind of degress do i need?

  • http://www.studiocmt.com Christopher

    You can not go wrong following your purpose, and listening to your passions.
    If I did it, anyone can.

  • C. D. Jones

    Over the years I’ve read more than my share of articles on business, careers, entrepreneurship and the like, and what I would like to say to all of these “experts” is please check your grammar and spelling before you give advice to others; Mr. Varshneya, the word is “course,” not “coarse.”

    One of the most egregious things that I’ve encountered over the years in reading blogs, advice columns, “professional” web site, and even books that provide guidance on everything from how to write a cover letter and resume, to how to start a business, is the admonition to make sure that everything you write or produce is error free, yet the author does not follow his/her own advice.

    I’ve seen some of the worst grammatical, spelling, and other errors from the “experts,” while job seekers and would be entrepreneurs are not given consideration if they make the slightest mistake in a cover letter or business plan.

  • Funmilayo

    Thank you for publishing the 13 Career Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs….for the advice and suggestions given by the experienced entrepreneurs are so insightful, beneficial and helpful.

  • Paulet

    Great article, very practical. I am encouraged by the individual comments.

  • Marius van Zyl

    DEMAND!!!
    You could have the best skills, services and products in the world, but unlees you’ are certain there is a demand to meet (and you have an edge on how you plan to meet it) It will be a long hard struggle.
    How would you do selling typewriters these days….

    The client will be KING and you have to give him what he wants better quicker and possibly cheaper that the opposition. Identify and development unique advantages you can offer…..

    Go get em!

  • http://Monster Nell

    Thank You Entrepreneurs!

    Very helpful advice. You can be an expert in one field, but must never lose sight that running a business is a very different animal than building something or creating something. Business is business and involves the whole spectrum from customer service (often overlooked!) to tax laws, city ordiances, payroll, accounting, IT upgrades…….. CLIENTS who want to buy what your sellin. .. I have been in and out of business for years, lost some, won some. Never forget business is a noun,no matter what your selling.

  • Akilah McRoy

    All stated is wonderful advice. Thank You

  • http://Monster.com Mimi

    I like Liam Martin’s comment the best!

  • http://allinonestaffing.webs.com Carolyn Burley-Wallace

    I think all of these are very helpful to the entrepreneur’s start up. I have a question though. I have started my business and I am kind of stagnant on coming up with a steady stream of revenue by getting connecting with clients in my area. Any advice??

  • http://facebook.com Brad

    Believe in god and believe in yourself.Positive attitude, positive thinking.

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  • http://entreb.com Entreb

    I like the “shut up and start up”. I believe that entrepreneurial success is more on action rather than words. I also want to include the saying that 80% of success is showing up.