Making money isn’t quite as easy as 1, 2, 3…
Have you ever dreamed of getting rich quick? Maybe you’ve eyed that new pair of Nikes or gaming console for a while, and figured it shouldn’t be that hard to earn some cash. Or perhaps you thrive on independence—and a stuffed wallet equals freedom. Either way, many people of all ages are drawn towards entrepreneurship for different reasons…but not all are able to survive. As an aspiring entrepreneur myself, I’ve had my fair share of successful—and not-so-successful—experiences in this cutthroat industry, and I’ve learned a few things along the way.
Have a business plan—and stick to it.
In fifth grade I made my first foray into entrepreneurship: selling slime. This sticky, slimy (well, duh) product was all the rage among my classmates, who all expressed interest in buying from me. The problem? I didn’t have a clear business strategy. I didn’t know how to track my expenses, scale up, calculate profit, or reimburse my well-meaning parents for the cost of glue and glitter. All my ten-year-old self could comprehend was that I enjoyed the feeling of cold, hard, cash in my hands.
Although my business was all-too-quickly shut down by my school counselor, the spirit of a self-made salary still thrived within me. I kept marketing my slime outside of school and started tracking my costs, revenue, and profit for each unit sold. I researched the cheapest vendors, the current trends, and my most likely customer demographics (spoiler alert: they were kids like me). Eventually, I was able to pay my debt back to my family and even raise enough money to buy snacks for my grandfather. All of this wouldn’t be possible without a concrete business plan.
Make efforts to know your team.
Fast forward to ninth grade, when I and four other high school students were brought together to create our very own startup. This time, with the resources and support of a nonprofit program, we had everything we needed to get started—except for one key aspect. Collaboration between team members is crucial in any field, but especially in a fast-paced environment such as this one. Since we were allocated ten weeks to launch everything from our marketing campaign to our pop-up sale, we made little effort to spend time and get to know one another through icebreaker questions. This hampered our progress later down the road because I didn’t know the working style of my co-founders, and they didn’t know mine. Molehills, such as lack of communication, turned into mountains when we weren’t sure how to compromise.
At last, we resolved our differences by holding a virtual meeting one day and asking each other genuine questions. I was relieved that my teammates understood me, and I understood them a little better as people. At the end of the day, we are all more than workers—we are humans who have our own quirks, traits, and experiences. Hearing others’ backgrounds and stories opened my eyes: I was inspired to learn as much as I could from them, and vice versa. Although we were different ages, we all had something to take away from our startup—and each other.
Don’t let your fears hold you back.
Just last week, I held a pop-up sale for my newest startup, which was also co-founded with several other female entrepreneurs. Understandably, I was apprehensive about the sales for this product because our marketing presence wasn’t as strong as my previous ventures. Thoughts plagued my head such as: “What if no one’s interested in buying?” and “What if we don’t offset our costs?” Even with a few years of experience, I couldn’t rid myself of the incessant fears regarding our company. As the co-CEO, I knew I bore a large amount of responsibility on my shoulders, and I didn’t want anyone to see us fail.
For the first two hours of our sale, I stood as a front-facing salesperson at our booth, watching prospective customers keenly. I’m no stranger to interpersonal interactions or social settings, but it was a little disappointing when people would cut me off mid-sentence or simply walk away uninterested. Despite these initial setbacks, my teammates uplifted me by joking about the situation and offering words of encouragement. Any fears of embarrassment or failure dissipated each time I faced a tough customer, because I knew how to handle them. Thanks to our tenacity, our company eventually surpassed our target sales goal by a healthy margin, and we expect to expand our outreach even more in the near future.
As Gayle Tzemach Lemmon once said, entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. But if you believe you have the spirit of Henry Ford or Walt Disney in you, acknowledging your full potential is the first essential step. Take some time to figure out what you’re truly passionate about investing your effort in, because time is an asset. My last piece of advice? Take it from a fellow student entrepreneur: don't let age be a factor in chasing an exciting opportunity. You might just be on your way to scoring that new pair of Nikes.