Why I'm Thankful to be a Young Entrepreneur
Recently I was asked to speak on the topic of youth in business at the New Zealand’s Entrepreneur Festival. I delivered my message that it was an advantage rather than a disadvantage being young in business. I’m 16 years old, I’m passionate, driven, energetic, motivated, and realised that school can only teach you so much, which is why everything I’ve learnt in business is self-taught. One thing I’ve learnt is that ideas are worthless, execution is all that matters.
Sure the older people are “smarter” based on a common preconception but they’re also laden with financial burdens, family duties, wife/husband/kids, house mortgage, loans, survive on on their own and feed a family and in turn so have much more to lose/fear about, and have to consider very much and very seriously before taking the leap into entrepreneurship. But doing startups, failures are inevitable, you have to fail many many times to win once, it's part of essential learning process, in this instance older people are not risk tolerant - they are unable to fail and risk things like young people can.
In a world that is changing really fast, with technology it’s easier and easier for young people to start a business. My generation, Gen Z has proved to be the most tech savvy and entrepreneurial minded generation the world has ever seen. It's great that more and more young people have the courage to take the leap into the startup world. On that note, it’s also necessary to know that you don’t have to be “book smart” or have a “high IQ” in order to succeed an as entrepreneur.
“If you don’t do it, nothing is possible. If you do it, at least, you have the hope that there's a chance.”
If intelligence is key to success, then so many intelligent people aren't successful businessmen, they are professors and teachers on a payroll. As a teenager living with the parents, the biggest advantage is that we are financially carefree, our parents feed us, and pay everything for us, and we have somewhere to live. If we fail, we have the safety nets to fall back on. That's awesome.
Due to lack of experience, I've wasted money where I shouldn't have. For example I've spent $1,000+ on facebook ads because that’s what I read online to create a successful ecommerce business. Through trial and error I realised that facebook ads were hard, sure to boost a post it’s only a few dollars, but those dollars add up and soon you get a receipt for $500 the next month. I do credit some of my sales to facebook ads, but I’ve realised my strength is instagram - so I focused on that. As a young entrepreneur it’s important to not follow things by “the book” especially when things aren’t working out. A few things I’ve learnt from YouthXCo:
Social Media presence is key.
Marketing is the most important. You need to know how to market to the customers whatever you sell, know how to get customers, know where your customers are.
Revenue is also very important. Every single dollar that has gone through my business has been a result of my hard work.
I live, breath and think about your startup all the time apart from eating and sleeping. I give up things like going out with friends, enjoying the young days, holidays, and I can't buy stuff for myself because I don't have an income. In a way there's a lot of sacrifices to make so entrepreneurship isn’t for everybody, and it’s also tough being a young person as there’s many things we must give up while watching our friends enjoying themselves.
"Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine. Most people die today or tomorrow. If you give up tomorrow, you will never see the sunshine." - Alibaba Jack Ma.
I have to do everything myself! I’m the CEO/CFO/CTO/COO all at the same time, learning to do everything from execution, strategy, operations, tech, accounting and the list goes on, which can be really overwhelming. But at the same time it’s incredibly rewarding and I wouldn’t trade it for any other job.
Being young allows us to take risks and fail. Fail fast. Fail often. LEARN from mistakes. "Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough." - Mark Zuckerberg. I know that even if I don’t succeed and fail every aspect of my business for the next few years, it won’t hurt me. I would rather fail now than later.
I’m thankful to be a young entrepreneur, thankful for my parents for providing me opportunities to fail and learn.
Inspired by a reddit post