7 steps to starting a company in 2 years for 20-year-olds

What would you do if you were a 20-year-old today that ultimately wanted to start his/her own business?

I heard this question asked on a podcast I was listening to last week, and I started to think about how I would answer it. My own personal experience is that at 20 I was in college, playing tennis and spending every other free moment building websites. Then at 22 I started Spunlogic with Raj and the rest if history.

While I generally think that the best time to start a company is always right now, here is the advice I’d give to a 20-year-old who wanted to one day start a company:

1. Figure out what you love doing more than anything. (You can do this in college if that’s where you are at 20.) Passion is not required, but it sure helps with your chances of success.

2. Get a sales job in that industry. Learn how to sell. You will always, always need this skill.

3. Work like a maniac. You’re 20, you have more time than you realize. Optimize your time so you can spend as much time learning your trade as possible.

4. Find yourself some personal mentors in that field. Learn everything you can from them.

5. Build your network. Meet everyone you can and cultivate those relationships. No matter what you do, a strong network will help you tremendously. Starting at 20 will give you a huge leg up. Here are six ways to be a great networker.

6. Keep your personal expenses as low as possible. Move in with mom (I did it), eat Ramen noodles, take cheap vacations, etc. Save as much money as possible. This will help you when you start your company by giving you cash to live on, and having a low burn rate of expenses.

7. If you follow this plan, by 22 you should be able to start your company. Do not wait until you feel like you’re ready. You will never be ready. Starting a company is not something that ever makes sense ;)


  1. Dave Williams on August 25, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    I would suggest to:
    1- start a business doing anything that can generate money quickly, ideally s service business, that doesn’t require cash such as a lawn business, newspaper delivery, painting or window washing, or web development for the younger crowd!
    2- get involved helping advise businesses or get involved with hands on experience
    3 – assess if you are entrepreneurial. Have you done anything entrepreneurial before and felt the “passion” and live for it? And, do you love not getting paid to work?
    4- do what you think you love and devide what you truly “love”
    5- do something you hate and use this to motivate you t never work again. For me this was interning at a law firm and starting my career as a cpa at a public accounting firm
    6- study and read as much as you can about business relentlessly to the point that you can visualize yourself doing the same. Visualization is key to success
    7- work for at least 2-3 years until you are desperate to do something else
    8- associate yourself with entrepreneurs either through family, friends, school or association interactions,
    9- go to grad school and take classes, meet people and do things that force you out of your comfort zone
    10- risk everything you have but have enough reserves to last you at least 12 months but ideally 24 months, as starting a business will take twice as long as you thought.
    11- go into the business realizing it will take 12 months to figure out the business, market and focus required to be successful
    13- Get involved with industry associations, become an industry expert/ leader, and
    14- sacrifice everything you have friends, family, money, passions etc for your business
    15- wait to pay yourself last and continuously reinvest back into the business
    16- focos on what is best for the business, employees, shareholders and the future over yourself
    17- be willing to sell the business when it is right for the business and not yourself
    18- never start a business because someone said you should. If you did so, then I can assure you that you are in trouble
    19- always be searching for opportunities and spend at least 12 months assessing the opportunity before starting as once you start there is no looking back
    20- be prepared to love the rude and don’t ever think twice about your decision, but only look forward!

  2. Jeff Hilimire on August 26, 2015 at 6:54 am

    Freaking fantastic list of steps to starting a company, DW. Thanks for sharing (and showing my list up) ;)

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