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10 Habits Of The Most Successful Young Entrepreneurs

10 Habits Of The Most Successful Young Entrepreneurs

Success can come in all shapes and sizes. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some key aspects to success that everyone should focus on. If you’re a young entrepreneur just entering the business world, or you’re hoping to help an aspiring businessperson reach their goals, keep these 10 habits in mind. After all, every little bit counts when you’re starting your own business. Luck is part of it, but success is mostly due to hard work and determination. Start forming these habits now and you’ll be more likely to succeed in the long run.

1. Find something you’re passionate about.

No one ever created a good company based on something they cared nothing about. It’s impossible to start a business without first being interested in the product or service begin created by the business. Take Fraser Doherty, for example: this young man began a jam business based on his grandmother’s recipes, and now sells his jams in almost 200 stores. Were he not so interested in using a family recipe to make something that he loved, his success would not have been as great.

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2. Devote enough time to your business.

Young entrepreneurs have a lot of advantages, but one disadvantage is that many of them are still in school. This leaves less time to devote to developing their businesses. That being said, an advantage to being young is having a ton of energy. Sacrifice some social time and sleep now, and you’ll benefit in the long run.

3. Focus.

Once you have an idea for your business, stick to it and don’t let anything distract you. It’s easy to lose focus, but ultimately it’s key to starting a solid business.

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4. Ask for help.

There’s no shame in needing help with something. Just because you have a great idea, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the know-how to execute that idea and make it a reality. Whether you need investors or a tech developer, surround yourself with people who have the skills that you don’t have.

5. Reflect on your progress.

Like any businessperson, you might have to operate on the basis of trial and error for a while before you find what really works for your company. There’s no shame in changing things around, so take the time to reflect on your progress and make changes accordingly.

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6. Get feedback.

While you might think you have a great idea, your customers may think otherwise. Make sure you talk to customers to get their input on your business as a whole and your products. And while it might help to talk to friends first, eventually you want to talk to people who are completely unbiased towards you and your business. This is the best way to get real information about what your customers are looking for.

7. Stay organized.

You should have a system for organizing paperwork and tracking your business’s progress. Otherwise, you’re going to regret it down the road. Come up with a system and don’t change it unless you absolutely have to.

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8. Don’t let it consume you.

While it’s important to work hard and stay focused on your business, it’s also extremely important to step back sometimes and take a small break. Don’t let your business become your life. Try to make time for leisure activities, or else you will become too stressed, and ultimately your business will suffer as a result.

9. Get the hard stuff done first.

Let’s say you hate meeting with investors. You have to do it, but you really don’t like it. Do that first thing in the morning if you can. You’re more likely to enjoy developing your business on a day to day basis if you get the hard stuff out of the way first and leave the more interesting aspects for the rest of the day.

10. Get creative.

Businesses succeed because they’re different. Yes, you can open up another coffee shop or boutique, but something about them has to be unique. They have to be set apart from every other coffee shop or boutique. Try to find something that draws people in and makes them want to be a part of your business. Innovation is what you’re looking for here.

Featured photo credit: Steve Wilson via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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