What Being CEO & Running My Own Business at 22 Taught me

Having had the fortunate opportunity to found, develop and run my own award-winning social enterprise at 22 was both a wonderous and torturous experience. The amount of things i learnt about business, leading teams, reporting to Boards etc. has always stayed with me. But here is the 6 things that i wrote down at the time (4 years ago now!) as the most important lessons i learnt from having to lead and run a business…

1. This is really hard. And it’s meant to be, if it was easy, everybody would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.

2. If you achieve anything, it will be because you have a great team. It is a naive person who thinks they achieve alone. I’ve learnt the most important role of a leader is to build a phenomenal team, and recognize they are the reason you achieve any progress.

3. It’s okay to say you don’t know. I think I forget sometimes that although I am running a business, I am only 23. I’m just a kid still really. I don’t need to know it all now, and making mistakes and learning is all part of the process. It’s about respecting myself enough to admit when I don’t know, and respecting my team and those around me enough to ask them for help.

4. My job is to have the hard conversations. This is something I have never been good at, but I’m learning I have to be… It’s my job, as leader, to stand up for my team, to back them, and to lead by example. And it’s also my job to tell them when things need to change or when ‘No’ has to be the answer.

5. The only ‘qualification’ that really matters is your motivation. It’s my motivation and hard work that has taught me that I can be so much more than what my education ever told me I was.

6. I have a boss. Just because I call the shots doesn’t mean I’m not accountable to anyone. I am accountable to my customers and primarily my team. If I let them down, I won’t have a team to lead.

What have any of you learn’t from running your own enterprises? Projects? Or from seeing others do it?

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