The founder of LSTN Headphones, Bridget Hilton, created a music-related social enterprise. Prior to founding her own company, Hilton joined the prestigious Universal Music Group at just 19 and went on to become a part of Warner Music Group. Hilton has worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry-- from local bands to superstar level artists. Follow her @LSTN.
Who is your hero?
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
If you never want to feel like you're working, find three things you're passionate about and combine them into a career. That was some off-the-cuff advice I heard about 10 years ago that really hit home for me. Music is my biggest passion in life, so it was obvious from way back when I was a kid that this would be my career. Music is so broad and open, I decided to combine it with two other passions -- the environment and charity. Music + Charity + Environment = LSTN Headphones.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I've found that there are no real "business" hours now that I'm an entrepreneur -- I work basically all the time. That sounds terrible, but I love my company and what I do, so working is exciting for me. The first hour of my day is always spent replying to emails that came in overnight, mostly from international customers, press and factories. I then plan out exactly what I want to accomplish that day and write it all down.
What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Keep the spending down as long as possible. You don't need to incorporate right away. You don't need an office right away -- or t-shirts with your logo, big events, a super fancy website, a bunch of employees, etc. Being frugal will help you not only financially, but it will also force you to be creative. Get interns, work out of your house and coffee shops, use your network as much as possible, and put your head down and work hard. If you have a physical product, buy or make as little as possible (a minimum viable product) and test it to see if people even want it before you dump all your money into inventory.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Set some time aside every week to read a book -- preferably a business book or biography. We often get so caught up in our busy schedules that we don't spend time growing ourselves. I try to read a book a week. Educating myself has been such a huge asset in growing my company. Learning from other entrepreneurs' success and mistakes has helped guide me in the right directions. And it's a lot cheaper than an MBA! Some recommendations: The 4-Hour Work Week, The Education of Millionaires, Rework, The Art of Non-Conformity, The Talent Code, Start Something that Matters.
What's your definition of success? How will you know when you've finally "succeeded" in your business?
To me, success in business is doing something you love while being financially secure enough to not worry about being comfortable. Comfortable is different for everyone. For me, it's just having a decent place to live, an office for myself and my staff, a working car, great food and a bunch of records. I've never been much of a possessions person, so I'm not motivated by that. As far as a goal for success of the company, I'd like LSTN to be one of the top social enterprises in the world. Our team is a huge believer in social enterprise, and we are extremely proud to be part of it.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.