Kevin Systrom (Founder, Instagram)
Having been born between 1982 and 1993 makes me a millennial and even with all the negative press about us being narcissists, I’m proud to be one.
If you don’t know my story, I transitioned from being an employee to starting a consulting agency. Within an 18 month period, I have been featured in publications like Time magazine, Forbes, Yahoo Small Business Advisors, Yahoo Finance and Digiday.com. I have become a professionally represented speaker and I travel across North America coaching entrepreneurs who have much more workforce experience than I do.
Let me tell you right now, I could not have accomplished any of this if I hadn’t cut my teeth as a dedicated and engaged employee first.
While working with a company before I started my agency, my friends would always tell me to leave and start my own business. They believed I was ready but I still wanted to learn. While I appreciated their belief in my ability, I knew that I needed to continue to earn some wins under my belt so that I would be in a better position when I was ready to start my own brand.
Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat were all started by millennials. Seeing the IPO of Facebook, the sale of Instagram and “hockey stick growth” of Snapchat have given millennials the motivation to start a company and one day also sell for a billion dollars. However, I don’t think that’s where our motivation needs to be right now.
For those that may be thinking that I am saying, “You can’t build the next Facebook!” I’m not. All I’m saying is that there is nothing wrong with working for a company before you start your own company.
I recommend partnering with a company whose success you can learn from and contribute to. If you are an hourly employee, work beyond what you’re paid for, arrive early and leave late. If you’re salaried, 40 hours is a minimum, not a maximum. Learn as much as you can and ask a lot of questions.
Believe me, what you learn from other entrepreneurs and leaders in the short term will increase the likelihood that you earn more in the long term.
Five years ago, I started off in the call centre of a reputable company making a nominal wage. The money was not important to me because I recognized that I was learning way too much to be concerned with the pay and I was going to use the strategies I was learning when I started my consulting agency.
Five years and tens of thousands of hours of learning has put me in a better position to succeed because I learned before I earned.
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