What advice would you give a teenage entrepreneur? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
I occasionally speak to young folks in the San Diego area to try and spark an entrepreneurial fire in the them. What they don't realize is they don't have to wait to become an entrepreneur. Actually, you shouldn't wait at all to become one.
The teenage years, and more specifically college, is the best time in ones life to start a company. You have an extraordinary amount of free time, you're surrounded by folks with varying skillsets and every one is perfectly ok working on projects and ideas for little to no compensation. I'd hate to break it to you but after college the world changes dramatically. It is very hard, and nearly impossible, to get people to do things for free.
Now with that said, my message to these students is often around just going for it. Why wouldn't you? An opportunity to build yourself a job and career by the time you graduate is something we all should go for.
Our initial founding team at CourseKey was entirely student based. We worked our tails off, we set up shop at our on-campus incubator and hustled from dusk to dawn -- often forgetting to attend class. Out of the roughly two hundred companies in that incubator I think only five were able to create jobs for themselves upon graduation. But the other four shared the same traits our young team did -- a maniacal and relentless work ethic to see it through and to make it happen. That's what we did then, and that's what we continue to do now.
One of my favorite Naval Ravikant quotes is, "Play stupid games, win stupid prizes." I think we can apply that quote to how many of us choose to spend time in our teenage years. Were you hustling and aiming to become a better version of yourself or did you spend the entirety of your teens goofing off and partying? Now don't get me wrong, I sure had a fantastic teenage experience but in the = early years of college (I entered university 17) I got serious about my career and where I wanted to go and who I wanted to become.
Too few students today spend their teenage years viewing it as vacation time instead of career preparation. The ones I've seen that become career focused early on are miles ahead of those that waited to think things through until after they received their diploma. The Teenage years are much more important than people realize.
This is why my advice is to just go for it. Start a company, work your tail off. You might just create yourself a job and find a career path that you're destined for long before you ever imagined doing so.
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