15 Pieces of Advice Entrepreneurs Would Give Their Younger Selves

If these entrepreneurs could rewind time, here's what they would do differently. By the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)

Many challenges stand in your way to as you strive to make your first startup a grand success, but experience isn't necessarily one of them. Countless founders have eschewed earning a diploma or MBA and instead have gone onto building hugely successful companies.

Yet even though you don't need an advanced degree to build an app, solve a problem with technology, or create a groundbreaking product, you'll still make plenty of mistakes along the way.

That's why we asked 15 founders: What's the single best piece of advice you'd give a younger woman just now starting her first tech company and why?

Vanessa Van Edwards1. Keep It Casual

One big mistake many women make is keeping it all business all the time. Some of the best bonding happens (especially in tech companies) over coffee, lunch and drinks. Casual chatting doesn't mean you aren't serious about business. In fact, some of the best rapport-building opportunities happen when you aren't talking about work. Don't be afraid to connect outside of work as well. – Vanessa Van EdwardsScience of People

Nanxi Liu2. Set Daily Deadlines

In the early stages, momentum and making progress each day is key to keeping your team engaged. Set daily tasks for yourself and your teammates to complete. For example, rather than giving yourself a month to finish your investor deck, give yourself by the end of the day to have the first draft. This also means meeting with your team every day to review progress and keep people accountable. – Nanxi LiuEnplug

Lindsay Tanne3. Adopt Usersnap

Usersnap is an incredible piece of software allows users to record their feedback and report bugs as they're using your product. To avoid getting bombarded by users' input, designate one member of your organization as the point person in charge of sorting through the responses and filtering them to the developers. This will allow you to streamline communication and make iterative improvements. – Lindsay TanneLogicPrep

Kristi Zuhlke4. Remember That You Belong Here

Looking around, being the only, or one of few females in the room, you can often times be overwhelmed with emotions of being outnumbered. You can't relate to anyone and feel isolated. Remember, you belong there just as much as anyone else. You are paving the way for the next woman. If enough of us pave the way, the future holds less woman who experience those same feelings. – Kristi ZuhlkeKnowledgeHound

Nathalie Lussier5. Use Your Female Advantage

A lot of tech companies focus on features and growth hacking. But if you can tap into your empathy and your "feminine insights" you can build a company that also makes an impact in the world. We need more holistic tech companies that care about the end user as much as the mighty dollar, and that's how you'll have the staying power to keep growing your business profitably. – Nathalie LussierAmbitionAlly

Shalyn Dever6. Don't Play By a Man's Game

As a woman in the tech world, it's tempting to fit in with all the other men by dressing in pantsuits, acting "tough" and molding to the businessman persona. However, by molding to that persona, you may lose your own personality and the traits that made you successful in the first place. It's OK to play the game. Just play it on your own terms. – Shalyn DeverChatter Buzz

Doreen Bloch7. Don't Be Shy About Talking Money

The No. 1 piece of advice I give younger female founders is to talk about money. Starting a business is about revenue, expenses and fundraising, so shying away from money matters will only hold you back. When it comes to investors, discuss their typical check size and investment interests as well as your funding needs upfront. It will give you confidence and make your venture more likely to succeed. – Doreen BlochPoshly Inc.

Natalie MacNeil8. Connect With Fellow Female Founders

When I was starting my first company and attending events, usually with no other women in sight, I was often the subject of jokes or put in uncomfortable situations. At one larger tech event, they hired a stripper to dance for one of the all-male startups celebrating a milestone. I wish I were joking! It wasn't until I sought out a tribe of female founders that I felt at home in this industry. – Natalie MacNeilShe Takes on the World

Lauren Perkins9. Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Build an advisory board, and don't be afraid to ask for help. As with building any new venture, people are your biggest asset and actionable insight your second. Make sure you have both and that you challenge yourself to ask the hardest questions to your advisors, team, customers and market. You can't know what's possible if you don't ask and keep the blinders open. – Lauren PerkinsPerks Consulting

Jayna Cooke10. Don't Get Caught Up

I would advise her to ensure she is focused on growth and the long term goal. It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day issues, but this will lead to you constantly playing catch-up. It's important to form a long-term solution, or else you will become stagnant quickly. – Jayna CookeEVENTup

Farzana Nasser11. Get Involved Outside of Work

As a founder, you will have an incredibly hectic schedule. However, making the time to connect with others outside of your organization will not only build your network, but it will also enable you to bring in new and fresh ideas to your company. Join organizations that support women in technology. I have found my experience as a Global Co-Chair at Women in Wireless particularly rewarding. – Farzana NasserGallop

Christie Kerner12. Simply Be Yourself

It is important for us as women to simply step into business with the confidence that we are an equal contributor. People sense your level of confidence in the way you present yourself. So, generally speaking, the more that you being a woman is a non-issue for you, the more it will be the same for others. Then, what's left is the opportunity for you to shine as the talented individual you are. – Christie KernerLaunch MiE

Shilpi Sharma13. Think Big

Play to your strengths, and don't forget to be bold, take risks and brand yourself. While running a company, there will be times when you need to say yes to things that you are not fully prepared to execute on. You cannot afford to lose the opportunity, whether it's from a new customer or partner. Do not shy away from branding yourself and your company. Take your credit wherever it's due. – Shilpi SharmaKvantum Inc.

Brooke Bergman14. Keep Going

There is going to be a ton of hurdles -- everything from development hiccups to people telling you that you can't do it. Stay focused and just keep going no matter what. Big risks mean big rewards! – Brooke BergmanAllied Business Network Inc.

Zoe Barry, ZappRx15. Just Get Started

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: just get started. Let me know when you do, and I’ll be right there to help you. – Zoe BarryZappRx


The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.