There is no one stop, quick guide to being a successful entrepreneur. While some of the success stories might follow a generic pattern of failed attempts first, before reaching a breakthrough, every individual has their take on what this journey entails. Everette Taylor, 26, is a marketing executive, and CEO based in Downtown Los Angeles who is making waves in the marketing industry.
Taylor is young, confident, accomplished and epitomizes the dream of a successful entrepreneur under 30. He is a Silicon Valley insider and is the founder of Millisense. The 26-year-old also serves as a growth-marketing strategist to Microsoft. The list of Taylor's professional achievements to date, go beyond what most individuals manage to accomplish in their lifetime. What stands out about Taylor is that he has surpassed many of his professional goals at a young age, despite having been homeless, living in his car at the age of 17.
There were many options Taylor could have pursued but he chose to go down the entrepreneurial path for different reasons. As a young graduate, Taylor struggled to find a decent job and was often met with disappointment during job interviews. When he did find a job, the opportunities to further his career were sometimes stifled. He grew tired of the same cycle and decided to invest his time, effort and skills into starting his own business. The decision was bold, brave and risky but worth every struggle and doubt that ever clouded his vision.
So what can young aspiring entrepreneur's learn from Taylor?
Of the many experiences he has encountered, these are some of the simple lessons worth remembering:
Know your limits
It sounds self-explanatory but in business we tend to get caught up in trying to do more than we can handle to prove our worthiness in the workplace, only to yield added stress in our lives. Taylor emphasizes that being an entrepreneur is all about self-awareness. To grow a start up efficiently, you have to know your limits and understand your strengths and weaknesses. "Building a business is a team effort and it takes a leader who understands that trust and delegation are essential, trying to do everything on your own will drive you crazy," he said. Taylor reveals that he dealt with depression and fatigue from trying to do everything on his own and taking on too much. "As a result I wasn't getting enough sleep, and I was isolated from some of things and people I love."
Choose the right team to help build your business
Pulling together the right team is a process of trial and error. You win some and you lose some. Taylor reveals that Sean Ellis founder and CEO of Qualaroo, gave him advice on hiring people that has stayed with him. Ellis said to Taylor that he should hire someone who really wants to be part of the business - not someone just looking for a job to supplement their lifestyle. When looking for new employees or a team to join his projects, Taylor is mindful of this advice. "I look for people who have the intangibles that can't be taught - passion, work ethic, tenacity, ambition, honesty, and a thirst to learn," he said.
For Taylor, passion trumps talent because he believes, "even the most talented people falter if they're not passionate about what they're doing." In addition to strong qualities, the 26-year-old CEO also takes into account, the candidate's skills. He believes it is important to analyse an individuals skills and assess their suitability for your work culture. Despite Taylor's strict guideline for hiring, if he can see potential, he won't dismiss your efforts without giving you a chance. He affirms "I'm willing to compromise if they don't have certain skills that can be taught."
Balance out the criticism
I asked Taylor about his views on criticism and how he handles the critics. In his response, he made reference to recent remarks by Jack Dorsey Founder/CEO of Twitter & Square. Dorsey was asked, "What has been the worst distraction to you as an entrepreneur? His answer: Being reactive to external noise."
Taylor expressed that this struck a cord in him and forced him to change the way he views criticism.
"Naturally I am a compassionate person, the last thing I wanted to do early in my career was to disappoint anyone or fail to live up to people's expectations. What I soon learned is that people will always have their opinions and that you can't make everyone happy. The sooner you realize this and learn to block out a lot of the noise the sooner you will become a better person and entrepreneur."
This doesn't mean blocking out all criticism. However, Taylor stresses that you need to be selective about what criticism you listen to and accept. "Criticism from my colleagues and employees, people I look up to, family and loved ones, and core customers/users - yes those matter to me, I use their criticism to make myself better and improve myself because I know their criticism comes from a good place, but most people I ignore," he said.
He also adds that while criticism can bring you down, if turned around, it can be used as motivation. "I appreciate detractors because they don't let you get too comfortable," he said. Can you imagine how it would be if everyone sung your praises? It stunts growth. I'm appreciative of all criticism, good or bad."
Make time for fun
The older I get the more I start to question if the word fun is going to exist in my life for the next couple of years while I establish my career. I was surprised when Taylor mentioned that having fun is a non-negotiable for him in whatever he does.
"You should have fun with whatever your career is, that's what you'll spend most of your adult life doing."
Regardless of how busy his schedule gets, he always takes time out, to do something out of his normal work routine. "Fun for me is just living in the moment and putting the work down, I used to feel guilty but I don't anymore, I understand how much happiness and balance benefits your work," he said. "Don't lose sight of the things that matter most to you, it's easy to get obsessed with your work, and you must make sacrifices to be an entrepreneur - but remember there are things that are bigger than all of this."
To stay connected with Everette Taylor, you can follow him on Twitter.