Essays & Confessions

9 Things I’ve Learned From Being A Young Entrepreneur

By and | Friday, July 17, 2015


Ever since I started working here at TFD, I’ve been infinitely more interested in reading articles geared toward young entrepreneurs and small business owners. Entrepreneurship is unlike anything else I’ve experienced and has been a rich and exciting adventure. While being an entrepreneur does take some getting used to, as it’s a much different working experience than a lot of people are familiar with, it’s an incredibly rewarding one. Helping build something bigger than yourself is, in my mind, one of life’s greatest joys. I feel excited to work each day helping to build something that feels this special.

Recently, a young entrepreneur named Donothan Gamble reached out to me via email to tell me he loved TFD, and he found our content to be relatable to his own experience as a young working professional building something of his own. I love talking to other small business owners about their experiences building something from the ground up. It’s useful for myself and for the larger community to gain insight as to how these entrepreneurs deal with the realities of being their own bosses and face adversities that come their way. I love that TFD has become a community of people who can come together and share their experiences, advice, tips, etc., and so I asked him nine questions that delve into his experience being an entrepreneur and what that means to him. Here’s what he said:

“First off, to quickly introduce myself, my name is Donothan Gamble, and I’m a mindset coach and independent business strategist. It’s always made me happy to be able to share advice with others and introduce them to new ways to look at life — it’s something I’ve always felt drawn to.

My dad has always been an entrepreneur, and the people he surrounded himself with always had similar mindsets. This provided me with an incredible environment that encouraged risk and forging the unknown — two skills perfect for any budding entrepreneur to possess. Now, being 24, I still surround myself with entrepreneurs and enjoy watching their businesses grow and evolve. Owning my own business has allowed me to own my time and have the freedom to do the things I most enjoy on my own terms.”

What kind of business do you own, and how did you get involved in it?
I’m an independent consultant for small businesses. I help small businesses implement infrastructure that assist with automation and efficiency, increase profitability, and create strategies that facilitate sustainable growth. The short answer is, I become a business’s employee and business partner to help people grow their business. I have always helped those around me realize their ideas and have been able to develop strategies that, once implemented, are very effective.

How much money (if any) did you need to save in order to start the business?
Working with businesses comes with the investment of time. Time is the most valuable asset that we have, so allocating it appropriately is very important. Leveraging my client’s capital allows me to carry little overhead for myself. The biggest investment I’ve made is networking and spending time with business owners learning the ins and outs of their business. Saving is an important aspect to what I do as there can be down time in between clients, which requires me to tap into my cash reserves.

What were some of the unforeseen expenses you came across when running your own business?
Some of the unforeseen expenses that have come as a result of being an entrepreneur include spending money to test strategies prior to pitching them to business owners. One thing I like to pride myself on is only giving advice that I have personal experience with. In my opinion, it makes no sense to waste a business’s money and ruin my reputation in order to simply make money. I prefer to spend my own money and take the trial and error aspect away from my clients in order to maximize their investment.

How did you handle those unforeseen expenses?
The best way for me to handle unforeseen expenses is to generate forms of income that are passive. Fortunately, I have a network of entrepreneurs that have allowed me to be a part of their businesses, so I’m able to make money through those connections. This allows me to have diversified sources of income and gives me the ability to invest in strategies that I want to use with clients down the road.

How big is the team you manage? Have you had to bring on any additional help since you’ve launched?
I have a network of 22 people who are mostly contractors that help me with execution and implementation of the strategies I come up with. I think it is very important to build out a diverse network of talent, and leverage others’ specialty skills which allows them to do what they are best at. This allows me to develop a very well designed and implemented process that I know will make my clients happy.

Have you ever felt tension with family and friends over having the lifestyle of an entrepreneur? How did you handle it?
I’ve been lucky to not have ever really faced tension from family and friends when it comes to being an entrepreneur. I have been pretty consistent with knowing and openly sharing my aspirations of entrepreneurship with family, and conveying the amount of time those aspirations take to achieve. However, once source of tension comes from me sharing too many of my ideas and business plans with friends and family. Many times, people can view having an over abundance of ideas as not being focused enough, when in fact, I see it as my creativity which I’m share to get feedback. When this happens, I just remember to stay true to myself and remain focused on my goals.

What’s the most rewarding part of your work?
The most rewarding part of what I do is helping others conceptualize their dreams and put them on the road to making those dreams a reality. It’s so great building relationships that have continually grown over the years, which keep me busy and engaged within those networks.

If you could go back and tell your past-self anything, what advice/words of wisdom would you give to yourself?
One thing I would tell myself is to build relationships, and learn from as many people (and as often) as possible. When I was younger, I didn’t fully take advantage of the opportunities I had to learn from others, which I regret. I also had many chances to meet very successful people, but instead, I chose to be passive about those opportunities instead of taking them as a way to build meaningful relationships.

What do you do to stay inspired/positive?
It’s essential to stay active which is the best way for me to remain positive and motivated. Having too much downtime will make me question myself and allows for more negativity to seep in. Filling each day with constructive activities always helps me move forward and push out any negativity that distracts me.

Overall, the greatest advice I can give to anyone thinking about stepping into the world of entrepreneurship is to start building something. Start a blog, write a business plan, write down creative ideas, or build something with your hands. Building anything is better than doing nothing, and it provides you with valuable learning lessons along the way. Many people try to figure out their entire business before they ever start it, and this results in them never starting anything because they feel overwhelmed at the workload. It takes time to build something the right way, but it’s all worth it in the end.

Donothan is a mindset coach and business strategist that works around the country helping small businesses grow.  Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or visit him online.

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