I just finished wathcing a youtube video entitled “A Conversation With My 12 Year Old Self”. In the video the filmmaker takes an old video of himself when he was 12 years old and mixes it with video of himself 20 years later. The outcome is a very funny and interesting conversation between the same person in two time periods. Watching it I couldn’t help think about how much I would like to have a conversation with myself as a kid.

But as with everything else in my life I soon found a way of connecting the video with business and starting thinking what if I could talk with myself 10 years in the past when I was starting my first ventures in business. One would think that it would be very clear what one would say to oneself in such a position. I mean I now have more then 10 years of experiences, good and bad, so it should be easy to give advice. But that does not seem to be the case.

One of the most important things I have learned in the past 10 years is something that cannot be explained in words. It is something that could best be described as a feeling for business. After all the businesses I have had and all the deals I have made I have created a talent for sensing which business opportunities are profitable and which are not. I can today sense possibilites where other only see bankruptcy. I have no idea of how I could possible be able to teach my past self this with out actually having to put him through all the experiences that I went through.

But here are a few things that I could tell my past self:

1. Always be honest and fair.

It is very important to always be both honest and fair in all your business dealings and in fact in all your communications. Try to make every deal in such a way that everybody walks away happy from it. It drains a lot of energy to be responsible for your own business and I have always felt that having people around me that trust me and that I can trust in makes up for the very long and stressful workdays. This is also a very small world we live in and no one can become successful in the long run if he is dishonest in business.

2. People are more important then profit.

Who you do business with is more important the the profit from that business. In the past I have had deals with hundreds of people and I have found out that if you have a bad feeling about somebody it is usually a better idea to skip dealing with them. Because it is amazing how badly a deal can go if your dealing with dishonest people. I have had deals where people have ran of without paying for there products and gotten away with it due to legal conflicts. I have had tenants that have ruined properties costing me thousands of dollars that I will never be able to get back from them. Aside from the financial cost the mental cost is tremendous as such deals come with stress and worries. So don’t just pick your partners wisely but also your suppliers and customers.

3. Keep on going!

Determination is vital if you want to start your own business as it can be a very long and difficult process. If you truly want to become successful you have to be willing to keep on going no matter how difficult it gets. Most entrepreneurs I know have gone through some very rough times and have at one point or another thought if they shouldn’t just give up and get a normal job. It’s going go be tough, but if you want it keep on going!

4. Learn and experience!

Be constantly open for new experiences and open to learning new things. If your working in a specific industry try to read everything you can about that industry. Learn how other successful people in that industry became successful. Go to seminars, go to conferences, watch youtube tutorials, download documentaries, read books, read books and read books. There is an amazing amount of information out there and if you know where you want to go then you can constantly be working on learning more and experiencing more. The danger is that once you start working on your business you wont have the time to study and when that happens your business slowly starts to stagnate. Always keep on learning and experiencing new things.

The most important realization I have made while thinking about this conversation with the past is that everything that I have gone through, good and bad, has made me a better entrepreneur. Even if the process has been difficult and stressful, to say the least, I wouldn’t exchange it for anything. I now have a lot of experience and knowledge that I would else never have had.