Jonathan Van, cofounder of Dallas-based real estate accelerator Motive, knows a thing or to about entrepreneurship. And so when he decides to throw out a few nuggets of advice for anyone who’d like to follow in his footsteps, its worth paying attention to whatever it is he has to say.
Just days after giving a talk to his alma mater, Dallas Jesuit, and a second talk to a group of business honors students at the University of Texas in Dallas, Van followed up with a blog post on Medium in order to share some of the experiences that have shaped his own career.
In his post, Van offers up a number of tips, a kind of code of conduct, if you like, that budding entrepreneurs ought to follow if they’re serious about succeeding in this famously unforgiving business.
First up, Van tells us that there’s an abundance of free or almost free information out there. Entrepreneurs, after all, are usually very thoughtful people, always seeking answers and looking to understand new concepts. So Van’s advice is to get out there and teach yourself, read as much as you can and make yourself a smarter person.
“Most of the answers are out there because authors are generous and even egotistical about sharing their knowledge,” Van writes. “So if you want to learn something … it’s likely out there.” You’ve just got to be able to find it.
Van’s second piece of advice is to just act on your initiative.
“As a student, initiative is the catalyst for displaying your leadership skills,” he writes. “Leadership skills are priceless. It’s what makes you standout to your employers, investors, teachers, etc. It’s what inspires people to follow your lead and help you. For the basketball fans, it’s the difference between Steph Curry and James Harden. Steph lifts his entire team. Steph lifts the entire NBA. James Harden is a great player who doesn’t lift up his entire team.”
Mentors are also invaluable to the budding entrepreneur, Van says. And he points out, correctly, that we are all surrounded by mentors. A mentor doesn’t have to be someone famous like Donald Trump or Mark Zuckerberg; he or she can be anyone who’s able to teach you new knowledge or skills that can make you a better person.
“In life, you’re surrounded by incredibly smart, well-connected people,” Van says. “They could be your parents. They could be your manager. They could be your investors. As you go through life, there will be people you deeply respect who you should ask for help from. They can give you critical feedback on tough challenges because they’ve been their before.”
Last but not least, don’t be afraid to ask questions when you don’t understand something. Van notes that a great deal of his students seem to be too afraid to ask for what they want. In his speeches at Jesuit and UT Dallas, Van expressed his disappointment that only a handful of people from both audiences bothered to ask any questions.
“The act of asking shows me that they want to get something done,” Van says. “I want to help students who want to help themselves.”
Read more of Van’s advice over at Medium.
Photo by Pixabay
Blog post by: Mike Wheatley