July 1, 2021
6 minutes to read
opinion expressed by entrepreneur Contributors are their own.
The business world is full of gatekeepers. Your ability to secure funds, find business partners, build networks, and retain customers depends on signals beyond your control. Historically, white men over the age of 35 have held the lever of entrepreneurship in the United States. Fortunately, with the advent of the Internet and technology, these dynamics have been significantly reversed. Young inventors and entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds have changed the environment, paving the way for a new generation of diverse business innovators.
But while these changes have opened the door for young entrepreneurs, they haven’t made the road easy, especially for teenagers. I was 16 when I started my first startup, Milan Farms. In the years that followed, I focused on new businesses, including Guin Records, an artist-focused hip-hop label I co-founded with my sister Misha. Being a serial entrepreneur as a young person entails many sleepless nights, but I have learned a number of important lessons about myself, my business, and the pursuit of success.
Above all, I want to help young entrepreneurs make the world a better place for all of us. And I hope I can provide you with a few pearls of wisdom that can make this process a little easier.
Learn and absorb everything possible.
A prevalent thought process among young entrepreneurs is that innovation must take precedence over everything else. After all, we often throw away most of the world’s existing problems to boomers and other past generations, so why should we listen to them? Moreover, the majority of successful entrepreneurs have been a hindrance to the industry. They came up with ideas that completely revolutionized outdated processes and products.
But innovation doesn’t mean ignoring the voices of past generations. Rather, learning from the elders is one of the only ways you can figure out new ways to look at existing problems.
It’s not even about age. To build a successful business, you must be willing to absorb knowledge wherever you can find it. Become a lifelong learner. Whether you spend hours on YouTube, listening to other young entrepreneurs, taking courses, reading personal research, or doing your own personal research, you should always find a way to learn more. By doing so, you can approach the problem from a new and groundbreaking vantage point while at the same time building on a collective knowledge of both present and past innovators.
RELATED: 5 Difficult Sacrifice You Must Make To Be A Successful Youth Entrepreneur
Don’t use your age as a crutch
It’s tempting to use age-related barriers as an excuse or crutch when things get tough. While this can make failures and setbacks a little less painful, it will ultimately make them much more difficult to overcome. Starting a business at any age is difficult. Especially if you haven’t graduated from high school. As a result, you will be encouraged to face insurmountable barriers or take risks while waiting.
For example, when I first started working with Dormzi and Guin Records, I was surrounded by opponents. It’s not that people didn’t want to support me. In fact, many of them simply wanted to protect me from disappointment. Nevertheless, I had to get through these voices and believe that I had the skills I needed to run my own business at a young age.
This also applies to teenagers who have already jumped into entrepreneurship. You’ll inevitably face tough fights, especially with those who think you’re too young or inexperienced to run a business. You have to listen to the skeptics, but you need to make sure that this mindset doesn’t affect your drive towards success, and you shouldn’t react emotionally. At the end of the day, you cannot succeed without believing in yourself. If you start to believe that you are too young to be successful, it will become true. So, don’t use your age as an excuse or make others question your potential based on your age. Use your age to your advantage: you have more energy than ever, build more, learn more, and have less responsibility.
RELATED: 19-year-old Scottish youth with cancer Motivates Entrepreneurial Success
Stay up to date on the latest trends
From a cultural point of view, the differences between generations are becoming more and more pronounced. Just a few years ago, millennials were considered the generation embodying the latest trends. Then this torch was passed on to Generation Z. Now speaking heads and experts are already looking for the alpha generation to be the latest trendsetters. Until the next generation replaces it.
With this constant cultural shift, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest trends even as a teenager. With technology and social media accelerating the pace of change faster than some people can handle, catching up on everything new can feel burdensome. But as a young entrepreneur, it’s important to keep up with the pulse of new technologies, cultural trends, and business ventures.
I wouldn’t sugar coat it. Teenage entrepreneurs will have a hard time taking it seriously and opening the door. In most cases, you have to work twice as hard as an older entrepreneur to gain a foothold. Even starting and running a business requires investing a lot of time and making a lot of sacrifices to grow and prosper. Fortunately, not all is bad news. Every entrepreneur’s path is a little different, but most love what they do. So if you know this is the way for you, I hope these tips provide a window into my experience and help young entrepreneurs build fulfilling and innovative businesses for future generations.