Lessons Learned By a Young Entrepreneur

This is a story about my friend Ole and I; we were young, wet behind the ears and about to become the next ‘overnight’ internet success stories. Between us we’d read every blog we could about making money online, internet success and making big money through social media. We thought we knew it all…we couldn’t fail, right?

Wrong.

School was over and I was welcomed to the real world with a bang. With big dreams, but little work experience the world can be a confusing place for an 19 year old.

Countless job applications were rejected; ‘no experience’, ‘no relevant degree’ and ‘someone more qualified has got the role’ were phrases I became all to familiar with. I’d often ask myself; “How can you ever get experience in work if no-one will give you the chance in the first place?”

Walk Your Own Path

One day Ole and I decided to jump into business. I figured “if no-one will take a gamble on me and give me work, then I gotta make my own work.” It was scary, exciting and a rollercoaster adventure.

We came up with our concept, researched it, wrote our business plan and secured bank funding for our new venture. Everything was great. We were destined for success. We were going to be the young entrepreneurs people would read about.

It didn’t go to plan…

Over the next year or so we took almost every wrong turn a pair of entrepreneurs could; wasted over £13,500 trying to build and market a product, had moments of self-doubt and frustration and questioned why we even started in the first place.

The lows were very low, and the highs were extremely high. The feeling of launching your own product is amazing, seeing your vision and hard work realised makes it all worth it.

We learned so much by chasing our entrepreneurial dreams. We didn’t just learn about business, but about ourselves too, and despite the hard times and debt I wouldn’t change the experience for the world.

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I’m not a believer in saying you have to fail in order to succeed. But in reflection the failure of our first business has been one of the most positive experiences of my life, so far.

Doing is the Best Way to Learn

Whilst our friends were at University (or College) learning about business, or learning about their industry or chosen subject, we were out there doing it. Whilst our friends were learning about the mistakes people make in business, we were out there making those mistakes for ourselves and learning far more in the process. This experience was invaluable.

Wealth Isn’t All About Money

In all honesty, the 19-year-old me wanted to be rich, I wanted the whole MTV Cribs or ‘internet millionaire’ lifestyle. Whilst money was never my only motivation, at 19, it was how I measured wealth.

How I was wrong.

I’ve learned that wealth isn’t how much money you have in the bank, how big your house is our how flash your car is. Wealth is the experiences you’ve had.

I don’t own a house, I wouldn’t consider myself rich, but I do consider myself to be wealthy. At 24, I’ve experienced life as an entrepreneur, chased my dreams, travelled a bit and am lucky enough to have a strong and supportive group of friends and family beside me.

I owe this change in perspective to the experiences of starting a business young. Without this experience, who knows, I may still think wealth is all about your bank balance.

If you’re chasing money you’ll be running all your life. If you’re chasing dreams you’ll be living all your life – Tony Gaskins

Passion is Key

We spend a large percentage of our life at work. Without passion for what you do or a feeling of fulfilment, you’re not living life. Whilst working on a venture and chasing a dream, I feel good about myself, I feel happy and I enjoy the experience.

As Gary Vaynerchuck says; “If you live for the weekends and vacations, your sh*t is broken.”

Help Others and Others Will Help You

I’d rather have a friend than a customer and I feel that’s the best approach to business. We should look to build a relationship with people, not just sell them something.

Helping people is one of the most rewarding things you can do, but as an 19 year old all I really thought about was selling; cold calls, cold emails. That’s not what business is about.

Build a relationship first by helping people and the money will eventually come your way.

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I’m now over 1,611 days into becoming the overnight success I dreamed of as an 19 year old and I’ve not made it yet.

I’ve had ups and downs throughout these 1,611+ days; I’ve hit rock bottom and bounced back, lost over £13,500, doubted myself and questioned my ability. At the same time I’ve met some amazing people, been recognised for my work, had some great experiences and learned more about life than any Professor or course could ever teach me.

As a result of these ups and downs I’ve grown an untold amount.

When you’re starting a business, building a product or just trying to do something you’ve dreamed about, there will be times where it knocks you down, times it’ll suck (bad), times you’d rather just sit and watch TV, but if you want it bad enough you’ll make it happen.

Being in control of your own destiny and knowing you’re doing something you care about is priceless. Trust me.

When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place ‘ – Unknown

This was originally posted on Medium.

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