Lately I’ve been giving some advice to a young up and coming entrepreneur. She doesn’t yet know that she’s an entrepreneur. But I know the traits when I see them. Fearless, determined, not afraid of hard work, not afraid of doing any kind of work, and focused.
If you’re still a kid I’m assuming you live at home with parents or someone that pays all of your bills. Except for school you’ll have plenty of time on your hands. And plenty of energy. Take advantage of it now. You’re going to need it. Entrepreneurs work very long hours. Unless you’re lucky enough to stumble on a great idea that makes you a fortune quickly, (don’t count on it) you’re going to have to work for years before your business takes off in a big way. Ask any successful business owner how long it took before they got their first vacation or day off.
When I was 16 I opted for a half day of school and then went straight to work in the afternoon. When that shift was finished I went to the mall and worked another job. I worked another part-time job selling Avon on the weekends. And I still made pretty decent grades.
I never cared that much about school at the time because I think deep down I always knew what I wanted to do. And there wasn’t anything I could learn in school that would prepare me to be an entrepreneur. Before you think I’m trashing education, I’m not. I believe you should learn every day of your life. I just don’t think college is for everyone. Especially an entrepreneur. If your career path is doctor, lawyer, scientist or engineer that’s a different story.
Remember the up and coming entrepreneur I was telling you about? She has over $100,000 in student loans to pay off and she’s working a minimum wage job that isn’t even close to what she got a degree in. I live next to a large college and I hear that same story all the time. If she had put $100,000 into a business she would be making a lot more than minimum wage by now. And wouldn’t be paying off debt.
I would tell my young entrepreneur self to fail a lot. Yes, fail. And fail brilliantly. You’re still a kid. You have a whole life ahead of you. Fail now while you live at home and don’t have rent to pay. And I don’t mean to fail with money. There are plenty of ways to fail that don’t involve money.
Start whenever and however you can. I started recycling cans, bottles and newspapers when I was about 10. Then I started putting on talent shows and charging admission. Then I moved on to babysitting and mowing grass. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. You have plenty of time to figure out what works.
But whatever you do, make it fun. You’re a kid. Do something you like to do, but make money at it. Learn to equate making money with fun and you are light years ahead of your college bound friends that are majoring in liberal arts and beer drinking.
As for the young entrepreneur… She just lost the minimum wage job, and learned the first lesson of being an entrepreneur. Never count on anything or anyone but yourself. I’m not worried about her. She’s already hit the ground running. Oprah, Martha Stewart, watch out. Your competition is on her way up.