No entrepreneur’s journey is a smooth one, and business ownership is often a difficult path to take without the right mindset and the help of a community of supporters. Though it can be easy to forget these facts when caught up in the daily grind of running a business, there are certain times of year that call for reflection and gratitude.
As business leaders, the members of Young Entrepreneur Council have a lot to be thankful for. With November and the joy of the season serving as the perfect reminder to reflect on just how far they’ve come, here, 11 members each discuss the main thing in their career thus far they are most thankful for and the lesson they’d share with other leaders looking for inspiration this holiday season.
1. The Transformative Power Of Mentorship
What I’m most thankful for isn’t a strategic decision or an innovative breakthrough, but rather, the transformative power of mentorship. Early in my journey, I was mentored by someone who approached leadership through an almost zen-like lens. He would often reference the Steve Jobs quote, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” My mentor taught me to harness that audacity. He would say, “Bold visions need guided execution.” A mentor will help ground your ideas in reality, no matter how outlandish your ideas become. They will fuse your ambition with their wisdom. In many cases, a mentor’s unseen hand is often the real force behind many “self-made” successes. Find yourself a mentor early on. It will pay dividends in the long run. – Shaun Conrad, Number2 CPA Exam Resources
2. My Network
I read a one-page cheat sheet about what differentiates old money versus new money, and what stuck out to me was how old money valued their network above their assets. It’s like a documentary I watched where a billionaire was given $100 to start a business and he was able to do that with his knowledge and network. If we are the average of the five people we surround ourselves with, and the four people you spend most of your time with are smarter, more efficient, more emotionally intelligent and mindful, you in turn will start thinking the way they do. I know first hand that it takes years to build a good reputation and just minutes to ruin it, so I would never ruin my integrity or reputation for a buck. I’m grateful for my mentors, colleagues and friends who have helped me build character. – Givelle Lamano, Oakland DUI Attorneys
3. The Support Of My Team
The main thing in my career that I am most thankful for is the unwavering support of a dedicated team. Our success at United Capital Source is a result of the collective effort and commitment of our employees. I’ve learned that fostering a positive and collaborative work environment where each team member feels valued and motivated is crucial. Leaders should prioritize building strong teams, nurturing a culture of trust and innovation, and empowering their employees to thrive. A united and motivated team can overcome challenges, drive growth and achieve remarkable results. – Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.
4. The People Who Have Believed In Me
I am very thankful for the people I have encountered who have believed in me. I have always had a lot of self-belief, but this only gets you so far. You need people who will take a chance on you and provide you with an opportunity. The people who believe in you eventually become your cheerleaders and confidants. Building a great support structure makes it so much easier. If you are a leader and you see someone with talent and believe in them, let them know. Show them your confidence in them; it might just be the push they need to thrive. – Zane Stevens, Protea Financial
5. The Privilege Of Community
The thing for which I am most thankful is the privilege of a community—a community of incredible team members, invaluable mentors and enthusiastic clients. As leaders, we often put the spotlight on self-reliance and individual achievements. But diving deeper into the essence of entrepreneurship reveals a subtler truth: Our successes are not solely ours. They are a beautiful medley of shared efforts, and it’s the relationships we cultivate that truly breathe life into our professional endeavors. So, the leading takeaway for my fellow leaders is to foster a culture that celebrates teamwork and encapsulates the spirit of cooperative triumph. – Vikas Agrawal, Infobrandz
6. The Journey I’m On
As an entrepreneur, I find myself overflowing with gratitude for the remarkable journey I’m on. Running a business isn’t just a venture—it’s a catalyst for continuous self-improvement. Every day, I’m inspired to grow my skills and adapt to new challenges. One of the greatest gifts for me is the opportunity to learn from extraordinary people. Their stories, experiences and wisdom shape not only my business but also my outlook on life. Their insights serve as beacons of inspiration, guiding me toward innovation and excellence. I’m thankful for the privilege of being in a position where I can forge my own path, make impactful decisions and create a positive influence on the world. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS
7. The Valuable Lessons I’ve Learned
I cherish the invaluable lessons I’ve learned through mistakes, mentors, challenges, employees and partners. Mistakes taught me humility and how to have a growth mindset. Mentors provided guidance and expanded my horizons. Challenges honed my problem-solving skills. Interactions with employees emphasized effective leadership and team empowerment. Collaboration with partners highlighted the power of synergy and strong relationships. My key lesson for other leaders is to embrace adversity as a learning opportunity and surround yourself with a diverse network of support to continuously grow and improve. – Meeky Hwang, Ndevr, Inc.
8. The Bumps In The Road
I’m thankful for the bumps in the road that kept me real and grounded. Success feels great, sure, but it’s the tough times that have made me stronger. It’s easy to get lost in the wins, but true grit? That’s built when things don’t go as planned. Every product launch that failed, every campaign that crashed and every bit of client feedback that was less than flattering are the things that predated periods of growth. For anyone in leadership, remember: It’s not just about celebrating the good days. Embrace the tough ones too—they’re the ones that truly shape us. – Bryce Welker, Accounting Institute of CPAs
9. My Founding Team
The main thing I’m most thankful for in my career is my founding team. Every significant milestone, every challenge overcome and every innovation in our company stemmed from the collective dedication and resilience of my team. Our diverse perspectives consistently added depth to our strategies and solutions. Always surround yourself with individuals who not only resonate with your vision but who also aren’t afraid to challenge each other and push boundaries. Transparent feedback and diverse perspectives are assets. – Julia Rodgers, HelloPrenup
10. The Ability To Scale My Business
The ability to learn and iterate at scale is my biggest blessing. Transitioning to full-time freelance work in 2007 to 2008 was liberating—but the depth and complexity of problems available for an individual was limited. Scaling an agency to 50 people in the years to follow carried over many intriguing problems to solve, a portfolio of clients to compare use cases for and a data pool of key points to analyze and extrapolate. – Mario Peshev, Rush
11. Our Very First Client
I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity we had with our very first client. They didn’t have a big budget, but they trusted us to build their website, and it turned into a real success story. This client’s trust in our abilities not only kick-started our business, but it also brought in referrals, which was a game-changer. Never underestimate the potential of a small opportunity. Sometimes, taking on a project that might not seem lucrative at first can open doors to bigger things. Focus on exceeding expectations—happy clients can become your most vocal advocates. Building a reputation for reliability and excellence can go a long way in establishing a strong foundation for your career or business. – Abhijeet Kaldate, Astra WordPress Theme