Bryan Silverman is the co-founder of Star Toilet Paper and a sophomore studying neuroscience at Duke University. His company utilizes a two-ply business model: they first obtain a large public venue to receive toilet paper at no cost, then reach out to advertisers who pay half a cent per ad to target that demographic. Follow him @bryanstartp.
Who is your hero?
My grandfather and my brother.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Have fun and be passionate! If you don't like your product or believe it it, nobody else will either. Fun helps keep it from a mundane job and turns it into a true hobby. Also, fun helps propel the business further. If the owner and employees are having fun, everyone will work harder and more efficiently.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
It is sometimes difficult to ask questions when you're young. In the beginning, I would take a lot of time to research on my own rather than tap into the knowledge that already exists. Furthermore, I soon learned that entrepreneurs are really willing to help one another out. Those who have been successful know that they could not have done it without those who helped them, and thus are willing to pay it back to the community.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I plan. I find that when I plan, it accomplishes three things. First of all, it obviously helps me know how much I have to do during the day, but also how I can manage my time most efficiently. Second, it helps me to know how much "free time" I will have to devote to thinking about new projects or having fun around the office (fun is essential!). Finally, I like to cross things off :).
What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Outsource the least you can in the beginning. My brother and I really bootstrapped and we learned so much about the toilet paper and advertising industries because we did not outsource our market research. That being said, there are two places I would recommend "outsourcing" to. First is legal; if you mess up legal, it could really hurt you. Second is a board of advisors or mentors. This does not have a cost associated necessarily -- other than time -- but putting the time in to find great mentors in the beginning really pays out in the long term.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Enter pitch competitions. A lot of times they are free, local, and really help you narrow down the business plan and your numbers.
What's your definition of success? How will you know when you've finally "succeeded" in your business?
Success is being able to live off what you love. It is obviously different for every person in what they love, but one of my favorite quotes is, "Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life." I really take this to heart because not only am I able to work on something I truly love, but I am able to do it alongside my brother and enjoy every minute of it -- every failure and every success along the way.
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.