By Kim Perell, a widely recognized entrepreneur, angel investor and CEO of 100.co.
At one point almost all of us have thought, “I wish I had known then what I know now.” Think about it: What do you know now that you wish you had known five, 10, or even 20 years ago?
Retrospective self-analysis is a helpful exercise that encourages you to focus on how you have changed and what those changes mean for your career. It’s easy to forget where you started, but examining your younger self can help identify which of your behaviors have outlived their usefulness.
What I Would Tell My Younger Self
When I look back at my younger self, I know exactly what I would tell her. I would say, “Think bigger.” Yes, I followed my vision and became an entrepreneur, but I had lots of doubts.
I was trying to be an expert in every aspect of business—but no one is an expert at everything. I now know to collaborate with people who are experts in areas I am not. No matter how talented you are, there are just some things you won’t be an expert in.
Aside from that, there are three major lessons I would share with my younger self if I could, and other entrepreneurs should take them to heart:
1. Feel your fear—and do it anyway.
As an entrepreneur, you are undoubtedly driven and passionate. But it’s not uncommon for business owners—especially inexperienced ones—to give in to fear. Don’t let fear push you to act more conservatively.
When I was building my first company, my belief in taking action helped me push forward, but I honestly never believed I would be able to grow my kitchen startup to a US$100-million company. Although I achieved success, my fear could have seriously cost me.
2. Stop searching for perfection.
Young entrepreneurs should stop being perfectionists. Doing so is time-consuming and wasteful.
For example, I used to have expectations that I would hire only the perfect candidate, which is an impossible way to scale a business. My highly selective process was slowing the pace of the company’s growth and limiting the scope of my team.
Don’t make that mistake. Focus on finding good people who will do their jobs well. Hiring employees with expertise in complementary areas instead of a handful of geniuses makes it easier to scale processes and leverage talent.
3. Dream bigger.
Thinking back to when I started my first company, I wish I could tell myself to dream bigger. While caution can be a good thing, don’t let it stop you from reaching your full potential. Allow yourself to dream bigger and reach for greater success.
Instead of thinking about writing a book, think about writing a bestseller. Turn your great idea into a business. Thinking about my formerly cautious nature has taught me to dream bigger in every aspect of my life.
So ask yourself: What do you know now that you didn’t know five, 10, or 20 years ago? What lessons would you teach your younger self? Are you dreaming big enough?
Kim Perell is a CEO, serial tech entrepreneur, prominent angel investor, and author of two best-selling business books. She is a leader, innovator, and keynote speaker.