RunnerWhen I turned 13, I got a Gameboy Color. When longtime entrepreneur and life coach Stacia Pierce turned 13, she got her own company.

“It was kind of [my dad’s] philosophy and the way he grew up,” Pierce explains. “We have a tradition in our family, that my dad and all his brothers and sisters would give their children companies [when they turned 13].”

Pierce ran her company, a combination ice cream shop and game room, for the entire summer. “I had ups and downs with it,” she says with a laugh.

While her peers were lounging in the sun or trying to catch ‘em all (maybe not, but that was how I spent my 13th summer), Pierce was working hard to make her first business venture a success. Ultimately, Pierce says, that was a good thing. “I couldn’t hang out with my friends, I couldn’t go to the beach every weekend, but it really gave me the entrepreneur bug at the age of 13, because what I did have at the end of the day was financial freedom,” she says.

“I learned at the age of 13 that when I was making money, I could buy those clothes that I wanted,” Pierce elaborates. “I could do things my friends couldn’t do, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is great.’”

Since then, Pierce has launched a makeup line, opened a clothing store, started an image and branding company, and penned a few books. These days, Pierce dedicates much of her time and energy to her work as a business and lifestyle coach. While she mentors men, too, Pierce largely works with female entrepreneurs.

“It’s exciting to work with women and help empower them because women have passions — they have so many things they want to do — but sometimes they feel like they have to have their whole life so balanced before they can start to really follow their passion,” Pierce explains. “I think it’s so important for them to get the help they need so they can get to a place where they can profit from their passions and really find out what they love to do.”

Given Pierce’s long career as a business owner and mentor, I asked her if she could share some tips for aspiring entrepreneurs. She graciously obliged.

And for anyone worried about starting a business in this economic climate, Pierce has good news. “Now is the perfect time to launch a business. I think that entrepreneurs now are more likely to succeed and increase their wealth than at other times in history,” Pierce says. “I know a lot of people think that during a difficult economy or a time of transition, it’s not the time to go out and do your own thing, but I think it is. When there’s a time of transition or a difficult economy is when creativity flourishes the most.”

Tip 1: Don’t Try to Do It Alone

Entrepreneurs may be self-employed, but they shouldn’t be entirely self-reliant, Pierce says. Entrepreneurs should seek out like-minded people who can act as mentors, coaches, supporters, confidants, and sounding boards.

“Get help,” Pierce says. “Finding other people that are on the same path is important.”

Tip 2: Get Social

That is, take part in social media. “It’s amazing today how many people I run into that are still not engaging in social media, Pierce says. “I think it’s key to running a business today”

Social media is not only crucial for building awareness of your business, but also for making contacts and landing contracts. As an example of the power of social media, Pierce mentions the conference she held last year, which she was able to completely sponsor through social media contacts. “I never met the people in person at all,” she says. Pierce got 20 major sponsors on board, all through social media.

“Today, social media connects you to the world and to people that you never could have connected to before in the past,” she says.

Tip 3: Take Fast Action on Your Ideas

“A lot of times, we get ideas as entrepreneurs, and we sit down on those ideas,” Pierce says. “We put them to the side and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to get back to them later.’ I think it’s really important to take fast action on your ideas and implement them.”

Pierce explains that taking quick action lets entrepreneurs leverage the momentum and excitement that come naturally with fresh ideas.

Tip 4: Build a Smart Website

No matter what a business does, it needs an online presence, Pierce says. The center of a business’s online presence should be what Pierce calls a “smart website.” That is a website loaded with strong content that shows off your business strengths and knowledge in the industry.

“There are so many avenues and so much technology that can help you build a company quicker than we could in the past,” Pierce says. “You’ve got to find your niche in the marketplace, carve out what you really want to do, stay focused, and I think everybody can have a good shot at entrepreneurship.”

All it takes is creativity, determination, and a little bit of patience. “You don’t start your company and make it overnight,” Pierce notes. “It takes time and hard work.”

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