10 Essential Lessons for Young Entrepreneurs
In her talk for the Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series, Draper Fisher Jurvetson Operating Partner Heidi Roizen (MBA ’83) shared advice for young entrepreneurs on topics ranging from ethics to hiring. Read top takeaways below and watch the full video here.
1. Look for hard projects and problems to tackle.
“If you’re not doing something hard, you’re wasting your time,” believes Roizen. She encourages entrepreneurs to challenge themselves by looking for something difficult to take on each day or week. “I can tell you from my entire history of my career, there is nothing that has being as rewarding as being an entrepreneur and coming through the other side of that really, really hard stuff.”
2. Don’t compromise your ethics. Ever.
If you cheat, you will end up regretting it. How you act when you’re faced with ethical decisions sets the tone and culture for the entire company that you’re building.
3. Trust your gut.
Our intuition is built from months and years of observing human nature and interactions; it has been informed sometimes in ways we don’t even understand – so trust in it. Roizen shared the regret she felt when she didn’t go with her gut on some hiring and firing decisions.
4. Strive to NOT be the smartest person in the room.
The most important thing that you’re going to do as an entrepreneur is pick your team. “My goal truly is to be the dumbest person in the room,” said Roizen. You have to take the risk to find people who are so much better at you in certain areas. Your job is to manage and empower your team – not to know more than them.
5. Every time you meet someone, think relationship – not transaction.
“I believe everything is about relationships,” stated Roizen. Strive to build a connection with the people you meet so that when you actually need to ask them for something, you will have a deeper relationship as a foundation and will be able to collaboratively help each other.
6. Expect that life is going to be messy.
“Life actually is really, really random. Bad things will happen to you. You will fail, things outside of your control will happen.” Expect the messiness.
7. Get back up when you fall down.
“It’s not how many times you fall down, it’s how many times you get back up,” Roizen emphasized. “If you fall down and stay down, you will be down for the rest of your life.”
8. Allow randomness into your life.
Go to a meeting without an agenda. Meet somebody new. Allow yourself to be open to random opportunities.
9. Follow the 20-40-60 Rule.
Remember this rule: “At 20, you are constantly worrying about what other people think of you. At 40, you wake up and you say I’m not going to give a damn what other people think of me anymore. And at 60 you come to realize that no one is actually thinking of you.”
The takeaway, says Roizen, is “when you make mistakes, don’t worry about it. Because no one is thinking about you as hard as you’re thinking about yourself.”
10. Be your own advocate.
“If you are in a job you don’t like, you need to think about changing it. You cannot sit in your office and wait for someone to come and bring you an answer.” And if you are involved in something you don’t like, you need to empower yourself to go do something else because no one is going to do it for you.
For more insights from Heidi Roizen, read her article on “Today Everything Is Relationship-Driven.”
Heidi Roizen Entrepreneurship ECorer