Director Prosperwell FinancialAsset advisor RJFS.
My parents raised me to work hard, set goals, play by the rules, and give everything I have. They taught me that if I wanted something, I had to work for it. Nothing comes easy and I had to do my best to achieve what I wanted, whether that was owning a business, becoming President of the United States or any other goal. My parents taught me that if I wanted something, I had to go get it myself and nothing would be given to me.
In the summer that I turned 11, I started working at the community shelter. Back then they didn’t have all the babysitting training they have now. My mom would take me to the ice arena early in the morning and I would skate, then she would drive me home and go to work herself. I made myself lunch and went to work next door to the neighbor’s house.
Here’s what I learned when I started working at a young age, and how you can apply these lessons to grow your own business with a hard-working mindset:
1. Hard work pays off.
Working at such a young age has shown me that hard work pays off. I saved my money. I have learned to be on time for work. I have learned how to learn. I learned that if I worked hard, I would be rewarded.
In my company today, I am proud to be in the office for my team. I’ve learned that if you’re on time, you’re late. A go-go mentality sets the tone for your day, your team and your business. Working hard yourself is the norm for your team members to work hard too.
You can also offer incentives and prizes to reward hard work. In my team, we give a “wow” award when a team member makes a customer say “wow” for giving them a great experience. It’s also the little things, like leaving inspiring notes on your team members’ desks. All this hard work spreads more hard work.
2. Save early.
By going to work at age 11, I saved and saved my money. When I was in high school, I studied abroad in Germany. I had saved money working at the nursery, so much so that by the age of 16 I had saved a considerable amount. I realized I could use this money to travel and learn and have the most amazing experience of my life. I don’t regret spending the money on studying abroad as it was the best experience and shaped me forever. I don’t think I would have had this experience if I hadn’t started saving at such a young age.
In the early days of your business, it’s important to only pay for things when you need them. Buy things on a budget and with a plan. You don’t need the big luxury TV and other new technology all at once. Temper your purchases when you buy. It all comes down to whether it is a wish or a need. Be OK with not having everything at once.
I’ve been immensely proud of the fact that my company has never borne debt from day one. Buy things as you can afford them. Develop the mindset to be aware of your money and save early.
3. Provide a mentor.
At a young age I learned the importance of learning, looking at others and having a mentor. On one of my first days at nursery, I was asked to change a little one’s diaper. I happily took the baby to the locker room. There I had a moment of panic. There were cloth diapers and safety pins. I didn’t know what to do. My Cabbage Patch Kids, whom I had practiced on, never had washable diapers. I needed help. I learned to ask for help when I needed it, to get a mentor and show someone how to do things so that I can lead the way in the future.
To find your own mentor to guide your business growth, go to LinkedIn and find someone you admire or want to be. Message them and ask them for a mentoring relationship. The worst thing they will say is “no”. You can also participate in networking events. You want to find someone who suits you. They don’t necessarily have to be in the same industry as you. I was most impressed with a woman who reached out to me after a local Business Journal event. She asked 30 minutes of my time to see if we would be a match. I said yes. We ended up mentoring for years until she got where she wanted to go. It was worth it for both of us.
A good work ethic is so important. Even if you haven’t started working at 11 years old, you can learn, change and grow. I believe that if you start saving your money now, put in everything 100% and get a mentor, you will be on your way to success.
Any opinions are those of Nicole Middendorf and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Statements of opinion are effective as of this date and are subject to change without notice.
Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services are provided through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. Prosperwell Financial is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services.