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Revealed: Successful Young Entrepreneurs’ Secrets to Making Their Dreams Come True

Revealed: Successful Young Entrepreneurs’ Secrets to Making Their Dreams Come True

Do you ever feel that you are investing in the dreams and success of others while neglecting your own? You punch a clock day in and day out, earn a meager pay-check for performing mundane tasks far beneath your capabilities, and for what–to help catapult someone else to success? If so, you are not alone. Many people are trapped in a cycle of chasing someone else’s dream for them, while theirs go unrealized.

Being an entrepreneur is the sexy new trend these days. Everyone seems to be doing it. What if you were to gain the necessary capital needed to launch your own business- would you? Or would the fear of failure stop you dead in your tracks?

If you chose to heed fear’s warning, you may be smarter than you think. Your fear is rational and not without merit. Building a startup is hard. That’s the tough reality despite all of the hype, glamour, and sexiness surrounding entrepreneurship. Statics show that over 90 percent of startups fail. [1] The odds are not in your favor.

10 young entrepreneurs show us how to achieve success

What about that small 10% who do manage to become successful? Their success is not accidental nor did it happen by chance. These young entrepreneurs prove that success is possible despite the odds. Everyone — from the young budding business person to the one looking to get out of debt — can learn something from these savvy upstarts.

1. William Zhou, Co-founder and CEO of Chalk.com

    Lesson: Connect and care.

    Chalk.com is described by Forbes as “Microsoft for teachers.” This education-based software company was birthed out of William’s desire to assist overworked, overburdened educators. His company has created software that simplifies lesson planning, assessments, and the evaluation process for teachers.

    The lesson we can learn from William is that it is important to connect and care about your customer. His primary motivation for starting this company was to provide a service to help teachers and not just to earn a great pay check. He ended up doing both.

    2. Brennen Byrne, Co-founder of Clef

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      Lesson: Keep the right people and stay away from the wrong ones.

      Clef is a replacement for usernames and passwords. The technology works through phone cryptography, eliminating the need for passwords and making logging in quick and safe.

      In an interview with AL.com,[2], Brennen cites hiring good people as one of the most important aspects that helps perpetuate his company’s success. This lesson applies in life and especially in business. You must keep good people around you. Conversely, once you find that a person doesn’t fit the company character and vision, nix them quickly. You can’t afford to wait for a person to bloom, nor can you afford to keep an employee who doesn’t support your mission.

      3. Adam Lipecz, Co-founder of Codie

        Lesson: Focus on one idea at a time.

        Codie is a toy robot and web app that introduces and teaches kids how to write code. In an interview with Forbes magazine, Adam describes Codie as being like Legos for architects.

        Adam is an idealist. He has tons of great ideas all of the time. His success has come from learning how to focus on one big idea at a time and incorporate smaller ideas into the larger one. He is confident that he will create a ton of innovative gadgets because he has the discipline to throw all of his time, energy, expertise, and resources into each idea at the appropriate time.

        4. Daniel Fine, Co-founder and CEO of Team Brotherly Love and The Fine Companies

          Lesson: Passion and drive are essential to sustaining long-term success.

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          Daniel Fine is founder and CEO of Team Brotherly Love and The Fine Companies. These companies include a sunglass company — “Glass-U”, a medical app — “Dosed”, and a tutoring firm — “NexTutors.” Team Brotherly Love has raised over $2 million for Type-1 diabetes research. Glass-U makes fully-folding sunglasses and is licensed to hundreds of universities. It has been featured at events ranging from The Rose Bowl to Lollapalooza.

          In an interview with the Huffington Post[3], Daniel says that passion and focus are the two keys he attributes to his success.

          “Those are probably the two most important things that if anybody has they’ll be able to achieve something. You need the passion and the drive in order to achieve something. Early on, you can create things without being incredibly passionate about it but you can’t consistently create things without being passionate about it. Focus is probably the next thing by a very, very close shot. The focus and drive overlap are two things that are just so necessary for you to be able to create what you’re shooting for. “

          5. Sam Shames, Co-founder of Embr

            Lesson: Your must work hard, but your work should capitalize on your strengths.

            Sam Shames is not new to success. From his college days as a star wrestler at MIT to his inclusion as one of Forbes’ 30 under 30[4] in 2015, Sam knows how to win. As a student at MIT, Sam engineered the core technology for his signature product: Wristify. Wristify is a wearable device that helps regulate temperature. It recreates the relief you feel when you warm your hands by the fireplace in the winter, or the cooling sensation you experience when you pour cold water over your head on a scorching summer’s day.

            Sam believes that you should do what you love and it should be something for which you have a natural aptitude. He was built for everything he does. Sam believes in embracing and leveraging his unique set of skills, abilities, and aptitudes. He embraces hard work but believes that work shouldn’t go against your grain and should capitalize on your strengths.

            6. Nanxi Liu, Co-founder and CEO of Enplug

              Lesson: Go “all in” with your eyes wide open.

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              Enplug is technology that transforms any digital display (TVs, jumbotrons, billboards) from a static, one-way communication channel into an interactive and real-time display.

              The entrepreneurial life is notoriously filled with risks, stresses, and sacrifices. Investing your life into a company at a young age is risky but the idea of taking risks is the fuel that propels successful entrepreneurs to keep moving forward. They don’t want, nor do they expect, failure but they understand it is a part of the process. To them, failure is a bump in the road- not the end of it. Expect it. Embrace it.

              7. Becca Goldstein, Co-founder and COO of Fever Smart

                Lesson: Always look to learn.

                Fever Smart is a non-invasive, real-time temperature monitoring system. It is a preventative solution that enables users to head off potentially dangerous health issues through early detection.

                Becca is a bit different from our other entrepreneurs. She wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do with her life so instead of staying in college she took a year off to travel. Why? According to her, she knew she wouldn’t find the answer to the question, “Why am I here?” in a classroom. Becca, like most successful young entrepreneurs, will tell you that she doesn’t know everything but she is open to learning. Her secret to success? She is a true connoisseur of knowledge.

                8. Gabe Blanchet, Co-founder and CEO of Grove

                  Lesson: Master the art of creating win-wins.

                  Grove is built on the belief that all people — regardless of location, climate or season — can grow their own healthy food right where they live. This business empowers people to actively participate in eating healthier while eliminating negative effects to the environment such as soil erosion and contamination of water runoff, and helps slow down the effects of climate change.

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                  Gabe believes in having the best of both worlds. He and his partner are concerned with the state of the environment, mitigating hunger, and providing people with the technology that allows them to be proactive and productive in sustaining their health. They do all of this and they turn a tidy profit. He believes in helping mankind while building a powerful brand through savvy business processes. The takeaway from Gabe’s model is that your business should be a win-win.

                  9. Sarah Tulin, Co-founder and CEO of Oxie

                    Lesson: Don’t discount small ideas.

                    Oxie is an air purifier that you wear. It couples aerodynamic technology with a sleek design to protect users from air pollutants such as traffic smoke, pollen, and germs.

                    This genius idea was birthed after Sarah was assaulted by a huge cloud of bus smoke on her way to work one day. That one event has changed her life. She was able to combine her love and appreciation for fashion while simultaneously fulfilling a need. She believes that ideas — even the small ones — should be explored.

                    10. Caroline Pugh, Co-founder and COO of VirtualU

                      Lesson: Believe in yourself.

                      VirtualU integrates 3D human modeling technology with fitness and healthcare. It enables people to accurately track how their bodies change as they work out. It shows you exactly where you are losing weight and gaining muscle — in 3D! It also is being adapted to help people make more accurate selections when shopping for clothes online.

                      Caroline’s company’s mission is “to blur the lines between virtual space and reality to make the online experience as real as possible.” That is a pretty lofty goal, even for the most tech-savvy individual or company. Yet she states it with conviction and chases it with tenacity. Her mission statement truly is her mission and not just a group of words used to build a smoke screen brand. She believes in herself. She believes in her mission. She surrounds herself with those who believe in her and who push her to work harder and be better. Her belief in herself is what pushes her to keep going and makes the impossible plausible.

                      These are the secrets of ten young entrepreneurs who have beaten the odds. If you have ever felt that you are investing in the dreams and success of others instead of pursuing your own and you decide to start your own business, there is much to learn from these ten successes.

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                      Last Updated on June 2, 2020

                      How to Write an Impressive Cover Letter (With Examples)

                      How to Write an Impressive Cover Letter (With Examples)

                      Think of your cover letter for a job application as an in-person introduction. Your resume outlines the facts—where you worked and for how long, along with your major accomplishments. But your cover letter also shows off your personality.

                      Your cover letter should outline the case for why you deserve the job without being “salesy.” How do you do that? Follow these 12 important guidelines.

                      1. There Is No Cookie-Cutter Cover Letter for a Job

                      Targeting your resume to a particular job may mean changing up your “Objective” section a bit or adding to your “Executive Summary” section. Cover letters, though, really need to focus on the particular person you’re writing to, the particular job, and the particular company. It needs to prove, with an economy of words, that your job experience fits the requirements of the position for which you’re applying.

                      Your letter should show that you have amassed the skills you need to succeed in that workplace. And, your cover letter should clinch your prospects by making the case that you are very excited about working at that particular company.

                      2. Always Opt-in to the Optional Cover Letter

                      Some job postings will give applicants the option of opting out of providing a cover letter for a job[1]. Don’t take the bait! Use the opportunity to further sell yourself in a personalized, well-crafted cover letter that creatively shares who you are and why your skills and personality align with the position and the company. Think of your cover letter for a job as an opportunity to describe your value proposition.

                      3. A Reference Goes a Long Way

                      Did someone recommend you for the job? Put that in the subject line of your cover letter if possible. If an online listing dictates what your subject line must be, cite the personal recommendation in the first sentence of your letter:

                      Dear Ms. Sanders,

                      Steve Smith recommended me for your Assistant Planner position. I worked with Steve at the XYZ company for four years as his assistant until he moved on, and I feel as though I learned from the best.  His high praise for you is the primary reason I am applying for this position, as I consider him an excellent judge of character. 

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                      You may want to bolster Steve’s recommendation with a short anecdote about working with Steve. Don’t be shy. Steve’s high opinion of you will likely mean that your resume gets a serious look.

                      4. Outline the Key Points You Want to Make

                      Company by company, your cover letter for a job application needs to be specific and bulletproof. Unless you have a great deal of practice in writing cover letters, it’s hard to just bang them out. So don’t even try. Instead, start with a list of points you intend to make. Generally, these would be a “grabby” introduction, a story or two about a particular accomplishment that is relevant to the job to which you are applying, a reason why you are the ideal candidate for the position, and a conclusion with a suggested next step.

                      1. Intro – Have been familiar with the company since my father worked there in the 1980s.
                      2. College Major – Majored in industrial engineering so I could get a job at CYY Building, Inc.
                      3. Captain of Soccer Team – Prepared me to solve problems, promote morale, and coach a team.
                      4. Ask for Informational Interview – 15 minutes to meet in person and learn more about opportunities.
                      5. Compelling Close – Ask Hiring Manager to call me. Say I will call her in a week if I don’t hear from her first.

                      5. Moderating the Tone of Your Cover Letter

                      Some companies are buttoned-up. The workers wear three-piece suits to the office each day plus loafers. Other companies are more casual. The employees wear shorts in the summertime and skateboard through the hallways. In an in-person interview, you would never wear shorts to a company whose employees are sporting three-piece suits.

                      Similarly, your cover letter needs to strike the right note. The letter you write to a start-up should sound markedly different than the letter you would write to a white-shoe law firm.

                      For example, even using something as informal as “Greetings” for the salutation may not be appropriate at a more formal firm. And definitely don’t use the default “To Whom It May Concern.” Instead, try to find the name of the hiring manager with an online search. If that’s not possible, you will want to begin with “Dear XYZ Hiring Manager.” The tone of your cover letter for a job starts at the very beginning.

                      6. Create an Attention-Grabbing Opening Line

                      Think of going to hear a presentation by a motivational speaker, only to have her open with, “I’m here today to present (fill in with title of the presentation).” What a let down! What if instead, she started with, “I just ran a half marathon. Now doesn’t that sound better than if I told you, ‘I tried to run a marathon but quit half-way through?’” See the difference? You want to hear more.

                      Craft the first line of your cover letter with the utmost care. It doesn’t need to be clever, but it needs to show your personality and your fit for the position.

                      Dear Mr. Stevens,

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                      I am committed to making the customer service experience better for people like my grandmother. At 87 years old, my Gram is lost in the digital world and reliant on customer service representatives she can reach by telephone to answer her questions and solve her problems. She regularly shares stories of frustrating dead-ends she experiences with people wanting her to “go online and make your selection.”  Yet, whenever she reaches someone willing to take the extra time to resolve her issue, she sings the company’s praises to everyone she knows. Based on Gram’s frustrations, I want to be that person who won’t give up or pass the buck with bewildered customers.  

                      With a strong, anecdotal opening such as this, you show purpose and passion behind your application to be a customer service representative.

                      7. Recognize the Value of Cover Letter Real Estate

                      Spare writing is key in the cover letter for a job. It is always best if your letter doesn’t exceed a page. Those reviewing applications appreciate a letter that is terse, yet provides useful information to evaluate an applicant. This means you have five to six paragraphs in which to work.

                      Repeating anything from your resume is a waste of real estate. Think in terms of describing why you are applying for the position and why you are the best candidate.

                      To best show your personality, avoid stale phrases such as, “I believe my experience would be a good fit in your organization.” Add punch to your statements that show off your accomplishments and your attitude.

                      I thrive in start-up environments where I’ve learned to expect the unexpected and to make changes on the fly. In one such instance, I uncovered better results from a pilot project and in under 30 minutes had updated the CEO’s presentation in time for his meeting with a venture capitalist.

                      8. Getting Creative

                      On the surface, a requirement is a requirement. Many online ads specify the number of years, and you might think they are ironclad. But if you count the number of years you amassed a particular skill at the job and add any volunteer work where you also used that skill, you might surpass the requirement.

                      Say that you are applying for a position in fund development. If your career experience in putting on charity fundraisers falls a little short, it’s certainly appropriate to add in time spent organizing fundraising events as a volunteer—as long as you indicate it as such in your cover letter for the job.

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                      I recently passed my two and a half year mark of employment as a fund development associate with Notable Events. Concurrently, I oversaw all aspects of two annual fundraising galas as a volunteer board member of Reach for the Stars Foundation, offering scholarships to first-generation college-bound students. These involved finding sponsors for more than 70 silent auction items, renting event space, working with caterers, recruiting volunteers and MC-ing both events, which each drew more than 200 attendees and, together, raised more than $250,000. I believe this intensive hands-on experience helps supplement my years of employment.

                      Showcasing your community ethos through volunteering could make up for the deficit in actual on-the-job experience.

                      9. Making the Case that You Fit

                      How will you fit in at the company? With some research, you can easily figure out the corporate culture of an organization. Many companies share their core values in job recruitment ads. But even if you can’t discern a company’s mission or beliefs from its advertising, you can learn it from articles you read about the company.

                      Is it employer-centric or employee-centric? Is the culture more traditional or more fun? And what are you looking for? When you find a company where your needs align with theirs, that’s an indication that you would fit in well. Take care to make sure that your cover letter reflects how you fit.

                      If you are a recent military veteran[2], consider which civilian positions lend themselves to the regimented culture of which you’ve become accustomed. For example, your occupational specialty while in the military could dovetail well with a company’s job requirements—and you have the added benefit of discipline, following instructions, and teamwork that you can apply to any future position.

                      10. Always Ask for What You’re Worth

                      If the employer asks applicants to share their salary requirements in the cover letter for a job, disregard what you made in your former position and look into the salary ranges[3] of the advertised position. You will want to adjust up or down within the salary range depending on your prior experience in the industry or in a similar role.

                      The key is to not undercut yourself by asking below the minimum amount, or to overinflate your worth by asking for an amount higher than the maximum pay in the salary range.

                      11. Show Your Cover Letter to Three People Whose Opinion You Trust

                      Once your letter is out in the world, it’s too late to tweak it for that particular job. You will dramatically improve your chances of having your cover letter “land” correctly if you’re proactive. Find a few people in the field, and ask them if you can show them your cover letter before you send it out.

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                      If you are starting out and don’t know anyone in the field, you may want to consider paying for a professional career consultant or coach to review your cover letter and resume. Remember that the care you demonstrate in your cover letter is that employer’s first impression of you.

                      12. End With Enthusiasm

                      You want to stay upbeat all the way to the end of the letter. Let the reviewer know that you appreciate the opportunity to apply and that you look forward to hearing from (or having a chance to meet with) them in person.

                      It would be an honor to be part of your team, and I hope to have an opportunity to discuss this role and how I could contribute to it in person.

                      This acknowledges that the organization gets to make the next move, but that you anticipate it will be in your favor.

                      Sign off formally (“Sincerely” or “Best regards”) or informally (“Best” or “Thank you”) depending on the tone of the letter. Also, be sure to include your email address and phone number under your name. This ensures that, should the reviewer wish to contact you, the contact information is easily accessible.

                      Final Thoughts

                      The best cover letters for a job are lively, authentic, and provide a memorable result, anecdote or example of your approach to work. By tying your approach to the requirements of the job description and revealing your personality as a fit for the organization, you will give yourself a winning chance for making the cut and landing that coveted job interview.

                      More Tips on Writing a Great Cover Letter

                      Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

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