“I have always had the wish to do something useful and help other people.”
“I clicked on a GLA link by chance… I wasn’t really looking for something life-changing, but I really got lucky in that aspect.”
“It really made a difference for the students. It lit a fire for them.”
Have you ever wondered how high school dreamers became successful entrepreneurs?
Welcome fellow teen startup wizard! In this post, we’ll discover how high school students create successful businesses.
Within an earlier post, we offered some practical ideas and provided inspiration for you to get started. We’ll now turn to a more interesting topic: how did high school entrepreneurs succeed after they decided to get started?
For some teens, such as Oliver Oglesby, they become successful soon after having a transformational experience. But for most high school startups and teen innovators, success comes much later in life. Why is that?
Here’s the honest answer: most of us end up failing multiple times. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with failing. Seriously, failures are good. Failing means that you were bold, jumped out of your comfort zone, and took a risk worth taking.
What sets you apart as an entrepreneur is not whether you succeed; actually, what matters is your resilience and how many times you’re willing to fail and learn.
Many high school students also have to deal with real social and economic barriers. This certainly was the case for Reetu Gupta, entrepreneur and founder of Cirkled in, which seeks to “Capture and compile kids’ and students’ school life achievements.” When reflecting on her experiences as a female teen while in India, Reetu has this to share: “I don’t have any brothers and India is still a very male-dominated society. When I was growing up, it was really bad…It used to boil my blood. I was very frustrated.'” (source)
Some of you might feel like Reetu right now and have to deal with circumstances outside of your control. That’s OK. Hopefully, you’ll get your chance soon. Another useful quote from Reetu expresses this difficult reality of startups: “One thing I will say is know what you are getting into. Entrepreneurship is very glamorized. You hear about 20-year-old billionaires, you hear about success stories…You do not hear all the failures of the startups that did not go anywhere, didn’t get any funding and died.” (source)
Although you might find this last quote discouraging, you can also see it as liberating. You now have the freedom to experiment, play around, and learn from your mistakes—without any repercussions. By all means, take advantage of your limited opportunity to get your hands dirty with many ventures. You can also seek out advice ahead of time.
Here’s an example. One eager high school student fascinated with tech startups posed this question on Quora:
Some potentially useful tips include start building stuff, be flexible with yourself, and this last quote:
“Start super small. Don’t try and build a million-dollar company. Try to build something small that you are interested in and start selling a few. Grow organically and enjoy all the lessons along the way.” (Jake Plunkett)
The teens who participated made plenty of mistakes and received valuable feedback. Here’s what was learned:
- Students work harder, better and deeper when the stakes are real
- Working for local startups creates real world intensity and urgency in the course
- [Teens] freak out, get paralyzed and waste time doing so. It’s all part of the learning process
As an aspiring young entrepreneur, you have plenty of time to play around. Enjoy your journey however long it takes.
Which teen startups and entrepreneurs inspire you? We’d enjoy hearing what your passions are!
Contributed by Nick Fochtman