As you begin your career as an entrepreneur, you have a definite endgame in mind. You may not know the exact path that you will take to get to your goal, but you do know what the end result should be. While having goals is good, you need to actually act in order to reach them. This means that finding your way to that ultimate accomplishment requires initiative, as well as the grit to handle the challenges that are bound to crop up along the way.
However, having a long-term goal doesn’t mean you know how to reach it. Doing research on how others have done similar things can help establish your path, as can working with a trusted mentor or leader. But these are not your only options.
We asked 15 members of Young Entrepreneur Council to share how someone early in their career can figure out the best way to structure where they want to go and how they can get there. Here are their answers:
1. Find Your Passion
Seek out someone who’s already made it and find out how they got there. Once you know their path, then you can begin to structure your own. It doesn’t have to be and nor should it be the exact same route as theirs, but at least you’ll have a blueprint from which to get started. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to. – Clint Haynes, NextGen Wealth
2. Work Backwards From the Goal
Having clear goals and a vision to work off of is key. Figure out what you want to do and the path to get there. Sometimes it is a good idea to work backwards and take time to brainstorm and write down what you need to do to get to your end goal. After you have a solid plan, network and create relationships with people that can help you get to where you want to go. – Sarah Yeverovich, Empowered Staffing
3. Speak With Co-Workers
Speak with bosses and co-workers about some of the best paths for your career and what they did to achieve success in theirs. That’s usually a great alternative to a mentor. – Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
4. Fail Now
Time is more valuable than excellence. Take too long on launching your business, and you’ll only be wasting time. Don’t worry if you fail. Failure is good. When you fail, you’ll learn what not to do so you can stop doing it. If your business is not working within the first month, change course. Once you do have a promising path, that’s when you can dedicate time and money on growing your business. – Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors
5. Watch Documentaries
Watching documentaries is a great way to learn about different industries and current events to figure out where you want to position yourself in your career. It’s a lot faster than reading a book, so you can learn about various interests and then read books on the ones that appeal to you the most. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
6. Study Worst-Case Scenarios
Passion can get you started down a career path, but it’s fickle enough to leave you once things get rough. My advice to those planning their career is to pick a path that they’re passionate about and then study the hardships that can occur in that field. If you can see yourself facing these same tribulations and still loving your job, you’ve found your future career. – Bryce Welker, CPA Exam Guy
7. Join Relevant Forums
Join forums such as Reddit and subscribe to relevant subreddits about the industries that you’re interested in. Read the various subreddits to stay updated on industry news, but pay attention to which ones you gravitate to the most. That’s where your passion lies. – Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster
8. Create a Stairway
A lot of people can visualize the end goal for their career, but have a hard time planning how to get there. My recommendation is to make a stairway of goals, with a different goal representing each “step” along the way to the bigger goal. It’s important to have little victories to cross off to your ultimate dream, or else that dream is going to be too big of a jump to make from the ground floor. – Cassie Petrey, Crowd Surf
9. Listen to Podcasts
Find relevant podcasts that frequently have guests on that talk about the type of business or industry you’re focused on breaking into. You’ll hear about what’s worked for others and past failures, all while helping you stay motivated and inspired by listening to the success of other entrepreneurs. – Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.
10. Read Biographies
In building a national retail brand, I try to read as many biographies of retail entrepreneurs as possible to understand the steps they took to get to their point, and try to reverse engineer the process. Did they raise money, did they expand quickly in the beginning, did they focus on a hero product, etc. Everyone’s got a different story, but you can often find similarities. – Fan Bi, Menswear Reviewed
11. Figure Out What You’re Great At
First I would ask myself what I am great at. If I can find a match between something I am great at and something I enjoy doing, I have just figured out where I want to go. This approach makes it much easier to find out how to get where I want to go. If it is something I love doing and something I am great at, getting there will not be difficult. – Mike A. Podesto, Find My Profession
12. Work Hard, and Get Noticed
If you know what you want, first get a job in the field you’re interested in and learn, absorb and work as hard as possible. When you have a baseline knowledge of the industry and a small network of people, your direction will become clearer. – Lisa Curtis, Kuli Kuli Inc.
13. Give Yourself Permission to Sample
When you’re young it’s easy to pressure yourself into “figuring it out” right out of college. But just like finding your favorite food, you’ve got to sample lots of things that interest you. I’m not saying to take lots of jobs and quit them within a month. But take a few internships or work for free with people you admire. Eventually you’ll hone things in and find what you love to do. – Trevor Mauch, Carrot
14. Go Where No One Else Is
Look where the competition is not, because that is where there is a lot of opportunity for growth. Mentors can reveal avoidable mistakes, saving you plenty of emotional and economic stress. Take their advice. Recognize that success comes to the innovators and risk-takers, those who not only see things differently, but also create things that lead to the creation of new markets. Embrace the new. – Alexander Westgarth, Westgarth Wines
15. Ask Some Difficult Questions
Answer these three simple questions honestly to find where passion meets career. If I only could read blogs or books about one subject without getting bored, what would it be? If you had financial abundance to do anything, what task or job would you choose to do freely? Who do I envy the most due to the work they do? List multiple individuals: You might find your passion from that list. – Steve Blentlinger, Payline Data Services, LLC