14 Millennial Entrepreneurs & Influencers Share How They Will Gain & Maintain Momentum

For many of us, our past has brought along new opportunities, a few setbacks, and many lessons learned. As a result, we are all hoping to make the absolute most of our future.

Many Millennials like you and I are starting to face the harsh reality that time waits on no one. We are realizing that dreaming about our next idea without putting in real work will not help us reach success.

Most of all, if our past teach us anything, it’s that we have to focus more on being progressive and figure out how to gain momentum in our lives, even when we experience setbacks along the way. Consequently, this is the reason why I’ve tapped into the minds of some of today’s most ambitious, passionate, forward-thinking Millennials. We discussed the biggest lesson that they learned in their past, and how they plan to gain and maintain momentum. (this article was originally published in 2016 and has been edited)

Here is what they had to share:

1. Darian Symoné Harvin (@dariansymone)

News Curation Editor at BuzzFeed News & Founder & Podcast Host of Am I Allowed to Like Anything #AIATLA
 
I believe that time and space are necessary to create the things you dream. Last year, I found a job in my field curating news, which also allowed me lots of free time during the day to read, produce my podcast, experience NYC, and track my own growth. I now have the time to execute the many ideas that have always racked my brain on the NYC subway (the subway is my think space). Because of my new job, I am able to get the momentum that I’ve definitely needed so that I can start on both personal and professional projects.
 
Another major thing that I learned is that the idea of “balance” spread me too thin this year. You have to be good at your job, but also network. You have to go to the gym, eat well, go to yoga, and meditate. After all of that, you still have to find time to do your hair, and get drinks with your friends, and also work on whatever else interests you. Before you know it, all of a sudden you’ve become super mediocre at a bunch of different things.
 
How Darian will make 2017 her year: I have a renewed mindset of what balance looks like for me. For me, balance involves being extreme. I want to narrow in on three things: my day job at BuzzFeed, my podcast, and my health, and then create smaller, short term, extreme goals around these things.
2. Sherrell Dorsey (@sherrell_dorsey)

Founder of ThePLUG

The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is it is only the work matters. I spent much of the previous year getting to the core of what it means to do great work. What it looks like. How it leads. And how it is reflective of the larger call in our society to become more evolved and self-aware builders. In his book, Deep Work, Cal Newport expounds on the reality that much of our work is superficial. We’re only touching the surface when we limit ourselves to the instant gratification of email exchanges and Instagram posts as the “work.” When building ThePLUG, I knew that I wanted to orient the brand toward filling in a much needed service of ensuring that diverse voices in tech and innovation were being seen in a meaningful way. Thus, the platform and the email itself is not the significant part. It’s the digging, it’s the constant evaluation of delivery, it’s the search for opportunities and ancillary platforms we’ve wanted to share to help others expand their voices. 
 
How Sherrell will gain momentum: I am vowing to be unapologetic of how valuable my work is. When you’re relatively young, female, and even Black, sometimes we diminish our value in the marketplace. I’ve definitely sat in meetings or on conference calls with shattered confidence, selling myself short, and leaving money on the table because I didn’t know how or have the confidence to ask for people to invest in what I was producing. Also, my goal is to foster better strategic partnerships this year. Readers of the ThePLUG will see much more collaboration in partnerships with other leading, Black media companies. We’ll also have vast opportunities for getting into the fold of the tech industry, participating in national events, and getting onboard with important incubator programs. 

3. Altrichia Lekay Cook (@allusionsbyalekay)

Entrepreneur, CEO of Allusions by A.Lekay Swimwear

The biggest lesson I learned in 2016 was to be okay with your success. As much as I’ve said “success is my only option,” and I’ve strived to be successful, at times I’ve felt bad for my accomplishments. In detail, I have never wanted to make anyone feel bad because seemingly I had accomplished great things, when/if they hadn’t. It was almost like I was trying to dim my light out of consideration for others perceiving me to “shine too much.” I’ve learned that people will try and make you feel bad for being great, and your job is to not let them. My intent has always been to rise and lift others. In 2016, I made my mind up to embrace the luminous glow that I was blessed with! This year, I plan to continue to surround myself with those who will lift me higher. Those who inspire, motivate, and celebrate me (and I will reciprocate). I also plan to hone in conventional fashion & design courses to help me perfect my craft. 

What’s next for Altrichia: I am focused on the next steps to accomplish my dream of landing a major retail distribution partnership. Additionally, I will be working with a team of creatives that will help me continue to empower consumers through fashion.

4. Sheena Allen (@whoissheena)

Entrepreneur, Founder of Sheena Allen Apps & CapWay

The biggest lesson I learned in 2016 was the true definition of trust. I had to learn to trust my team more. I started out bootstrapping and running my own company for 3 years by myself, so I became very comfortable with doing things my way and not having to really put trust in anyone else. In 2017, I plan to do a lot of coloring outside of the lines and do a few things differently than before. Between launching a few new products and services, upgrading some of my existing apps, and collaborating with a few key players, 2017 will be my year.

What’s next for Sheena: I will be officially launching my second startup, CAPWAY, in 2017. CAPWAY is a financial technology company that focuses on the unbanked and underbanked. I am also making changes to my first startup, but I won’t reveal too much about that just yet :). 

5. Kian Hervey (@40magazine)

Editorial Director at Forty Magazine

One of the biggest lessons that I learned this past year is that people don’t support businesses or brands without knowing their story. I learned how to share my story and how crucial effective communication is for your personal brand and business.
 
My attitude for life has always been to stay humble and hungry. This year, I plan to put more of that mentality into my career as I have become more comfortable in my current role. The moment you start to get comfortable, you need to find a way to push yourself for more.
 
Kian’s plans: I’m excited to work with more bloggers and local businesses to really build on the momentum Forty Magazine gained in 2016. I’ve learned that collaborations is really the key to success, so I plan on building more long-lasting relationships this year to keep the momentum going.

photocred: Michael Cooper for By Way of Brooklyn

6. Rhonesha Byng (@neshasagenda)

Founder of Her AgendaForbes 30 Under 30 2017 Recipient

The most critical lesson that I learned was that you have to choose to be happy. Circumstance and outside forces should not dictate your happiness. I’ve also learned that choosing happiness is definitely easier said than done, so every day you have to be intentional about pursuing it.

I am also learning that it is important to truly know one’s self. In 2017, I am going to be more reflective, and will look for a deeper understanding of myself, my habits, and the meanings of the experiences that happen along my journey.

What’s next for Rhonesha: I am launching a college ambassador network for Her Agenda, and I plan to connect with Fortune 500 companies to help them hire more qualified, ambitious, Millennial women.

7. Joshua Darius (@healnowhq)

CTO/Co-Founder of HealNow, Partner at Vulk Cooperative

The biggest lesson I learned in 2016 was to take advantage of the moment. We never know when or if we’ll have a door of opportunity open for us again. There’s something to be said about not being a “prisoner of the moment”, but somewhere along the way the crazy idea that an arbitrary amount of preparation, or recognition of my abilities from colleagues and friends was required for me to morally take on some opportunities. With that attitude, I held myself back from what the universe thought I deserved. After the fact I attempted the task of every missed opportunity for myself, I found I only lacked the confidence to step through the door. Moving forward, my attitude and mindset is centered around action. 2016 taught me the crucial difference between “Game Time” and “Practice”. This past year forced me to put my plans aside and allow my efforts to be focused on real progress away from the drawing board. That pressure enabled me to engineer my first consumer product for the marketplace as well as increase my skill and confidence with developing software. I’ve spent a lifetime working on masterplans and strategies to achieve success. This year is all about “Game Time”. 

This year, I have many ambitious plans, and the only way I’m going to be able to come close to my goals is to consistently execute. As a result, I’ve outlined two month milestones for me to reach in my year end goals. I’m determined to stay on track and to not let life’s surprises throw me off course. If I’m stubbornly focused on my milestones, I have no doubt that my grind will snowball.

What’s next for Joshua: I am looking forward to the release of HealNow this January 2017 in New York, and the expansion of HealNow to other US consumer markets (initially focusing on the East Coast as well as the southern Texas/Florida markets). Last but not least, I am excited to become an advocate for engineers from America’s inner cities to have more visibility and opportunity.

8. Chasity Cooper (@chasitycooper)

Communications Strategist & Journalist

The biggest lesson I learned in 2016 was to trust myself — and this is a lesson that I’m still learning. So many times in 2016 I fell victim to doubt and fear, and spent too much time in those emotions instead of acting on the things I knew I should have been doing. I also learned that I don’t have to do everything that everyone else is doing. Sometimes, I can be super critical of myself, and I’m continuing to learn that in order for me to be effective both personally and professionally, I have to move out of my own way and have faith in my ability to be great, even if it is scary at times.
In this new year, I am going to believe in my glo’ up a lot more, and sincerely enjoy the process that comes along with it. I also plan on making time to do more things that bring me joy, and to be fully present in the moment. I’m not sure if I’m the only who feels this way, but every time I take a trip to my hometown in Chicago, I’m always reminded to enjoy life’s moments fully and freely. No matter how much I continue to evolve in my career, returning home is always a friendly reminder to appreciate where I’ve come from and how much I’ve grown individually. 
How will Chasity gain momentum: I am focusing on becoming better at the few things that I’m really good at (and to do them more often). We (myself included) get caught up in trying to do everything for everyone when we should really be intentional about how we use our gifts and talents in order to become better at creating, building and executing.

9. Everette Taylor (@skurt)

Chief Marketing Officer at Skurt

The biggest lesson I learned in 2016 was practicing the idea of having patience. I’ve always understood the importance of it, but I’ve always thrived on a “why not now?” mentality. Another lesson that I learned was that you have to be able to accept when things are out of your hands. 2016 was all about working with what I had, and realizing that there was no sense in worrying about things out of my control. I truly believe that when you do the best you can with what you have, and the rest will fall into place.

Even thought it’s a “new year,” I don’t real subscribe to the “new year, new me” mentality. I’m constantly trying to get better on a daily basis, always trying to pick up new skill sets, and always have clear goals. That doesn’t change every time we orbit the sun. My mindset is the same, I want to be the best at what I do. I want to build companies that change the world and impact people’s lives in positive way. I’m just as hungry and relentless as I’ve ever been.

How Everette will gain momentum: Product development will be major for my growth for sure. A lot of people come to me for marketing advice and I always stress how important working on your product is. I’m really excited for all the new product features in the funnel that we have planned for this year. On the same note, for me this year is about Skurt and how it’s going to revolutionize how people think of mobility, car ownership, and the traditional rental car industry.

10. Marcus Gilmore (@theculturesupplier)

Founding Editor of The Culture Supplier

The most important lesson that I learned in 2016 is that everyone will not like or support everything you do. We get caught up in thinking everyone is supposed to like/support every shirt idea, event, music or whatever your product is. But the reality of it all is that they don’t have to! The moral of the story is find your niche and apply your work to satisfy that niche.
 
This year, one thing that I plan to be intentional with is increasing my reading and also being able to calculate trends in the industry. I am also practicing patience, and remembering to not forget who is really in control of my success and future… God
 
This is how Marcus will gain momentum: I plan on working with a few key events, cohosting on a few podcasts, collaborating with recognized brands, finding new mentors, and growing closer in my faith and praying more.

11. Tenia Henderson (@misstenia)

Owner of Popout

A key lesson that I learned this past year is that you should build a business before you build a lifestyle. I’ve learned that it’s critical to invest money in your business before buying pleasures that won’t mean anything shortly after the purchase. Another lesson that I learned is that everyone isn’t/cannot be invited to the table, and that’s okay. In order to reach your goals, it’s important that you surround yourself with other dreamers and doers, and positive thinkers. I believe that every day is GAME DAY (so have the best people on your team!). At the end of the game, you either win or you learn. But no matter what, #KeepGoing.

How she plans to maintain momentum: In my business, having business to consumer connection is key. I plan to continue to stay connected to my supporters and clients. Because my business can support customized orders, I like knowing everyone on some sort of personal level, because it gives me a better idea of their needs and their preferences. On the same note, I use my customer and fan feedback as inspiration for future Popout designs. Another way I plan to maintain momentum is to build lasting business relationships and cross train with other local entrepreneurs who can be beneficial to the vision of Popout.

12. Gabrielle Deculus (@businessrulesforwomen)

Founder of Business Rules for Women (BRFW)

The biggest lesson I learned in 2016 was to take the unexpected in strides and grow from them. 2016 was definitely a year of great highs and unexpected lows. Nonetheless, I’m grateful for all experiences, and I plan to use them to ignite a growth mindset and aggressive learning attitude. I am ready for Business Rules for Women to be apart of the tech world as a media platform, app, and content brand. We are knocking on year 3 and I am so excited about what’s to come this year!

What’s next for Gabrielle & Business Rules For Women: We recently launched a Facebook Login for contributors to submit unique content 24/7 and I am very excited about that! BRFW is also developing an app for users interested in designing action plans for their goals. Last but not least, I’ve designed BRFW to be collaboration friendly. Recently, I hosted a call with 300 BRFW supporters and I can’t wait to see what we will create from that conversation.

 

13. Daron Pressley (@daronpressley)

Content Producer and Editor at Black Enterprise

The biggest lesson I learned in 2016 is to never make a business from an emotional state. Business is business regardless of who you are dealing with.  Separate how you feel from what you know. Along with this, I learned that your feet will never take you where your mind has never been.
 
What 2017 looks like for Daron: I will be doing a lot of “prep work” to reach my goals by reflecting back to see what did and did not work in the past. If it didn’t work, I am taking time to understand why. As far as planning, I keep my list of written goals for 2017 nearby and flexible. I understand that things happen and circumstances change. In ordert to meet my goals, I understand that I may need to pivot a little to meet the demands of the ever-changing world.

14. Brittney Oliver (@bsoliver)

Freelance writer, Lifestyle & Career Blogger, and Founder of Lemons 2 Lemonade

This past year I learned how to remove unnecessary pressure off of myself and the importance of it.  Many times we go into situations wanting everything to be perfect, but we can’t control everything.  Things may not go according to how it was planned and that’s okay.  Don’t let perfection get in the way of accomplishing goals. Have a skeletal plan and vision for the goal, but then make room for error and unexpected changes. Everything will fall into place and will work itself out in the end. I’ve decided that in this new year, I’m bringing more confidence, ideas and new partnerships to the table. I’m going to continue to be open to new people, experiences, and opportunities because you never know where those chances will take you. For my brand, Lemons 2 Lemonade, I have so much in store. Lemonade will runneth over in 2017! Lemons 2 Lemonade will have more mixers, Twitter chats, and co-branded events this year.  Readers will also enjoy more content and opportunities to participate and engage with online activations. 
How Brittney will gain momentum: I believe there is strength in numbers. If other creatives and entrepreneurs collaborated more then we could make a major impact and accomplish our goals.  I plan to collaborate more this year with co-branded initiatives and by paying it forward to others.
 
 
 
How do you plan to gain and maintain momentum this year? Share with us below!

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