I was recently invited to give a keynote at the New Zealand’s Entrepreneur’s Festival on the topic of advantages and disadvantages of being young in business. It was something that I’m incredibly passionate about, especially since I was very young—16 years old at the time—with the majority of speakers being double, triple and even quadruple my age! Others shared wisdom from years being in business, yet I still went on the mission to inspire and impact.
One thing I’ve learned is that ideas are worthless, execution is all that matters.
It’s sometimes hard to be taken seriously when you’re young, so it’s important to have a track record built up with your results. Results matter most.
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, etc. They survive on their own and feed a family and in turn have much more to lose/fear about and have to consider very much and very seriously before taking the leap into entrepreneurship.
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 safety nets to fall back on.
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 and marketing is the most important thing. You need to know how to market to 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. Entrepreneurship isn’t for everybody, and it’s also tough being a young person as there’s many things we must give up such as watching our friends enjoy 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.
As Gary Vaynerchuk always says to teenagers and young adults, “You’ve got time.” We could do something for 10 or so years, fail every aspect of it, and still come out very young. If we truly have the right mindset, passion, and ambition to become an entrepreneur, starting out young is the best advantage we will have.
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Rachel Ji is a young entrepreneur from New Zealand. Her companies, youthxco – aimed to empower the youth and thrive – marketing agency highlight her passion as an entrepreneur. She has been featured in The Huffington Post, Success Magazine and other national press; also spoken in front of hundreds of entrepreneurs at the New Zealand’s Entrepreneur’s Festival.
In addition, she has accomplished a scholar badge for exceptional academic performance, shown a strength with social media having built a following of 150k.