Just do it. It doesn’t matter what age or stage in life you are, there are no excuses not to start your own business. Opportunites present themselves all the time, and it’s our responsibility to take advantage of them.
A single mother struggling to make ends meet and don’t have the time or the money to start a business? Tell that to Angela Benton, who became a single mother at the age of 16. “Being a single mom is NOT a setback. Nestled somewhere in the pages of a storybook is the idea that entrepreneurs “hustle,” “crush it,” “grind” and whatever other words you can come up with to describe working really, really hard on your business 100 percent of the time. Out here in the real world, we know that’s not true.” Learn the power of being broke and use it motivate yourself.
David Duffield, one of the founders of the Peoplesoft enterprise software company, was far from the age of your typical startup entrepreneur. He was in his late forties when he founded the successful business and eventually sold it to Oracle. Upon Oracle’s acquisition, he moved on to found Workday—another software enterprise seems to be following Peoplesoft’s same path to success. Not all 64-year-olds are relying on their pension funds to live their golden years in mediocrity—some, including Duffield, are following their entrepreneurial dream to rid themselves of the pension stress.
It’s clear that gender, socio-economic status, or age are not real factors in startup success. If you’re a passionate individual who is willing to learn and make sacrifices to bring their dream to fruition, you can make it happen. The term “youth” is subjective, as is “senior.” We need to rid ourselves of such mindsets to more attention to passion and experience, and less to age.
I encounter people every day and have the opportunity of listening to their stories and dreams—only to hear them end the story with an excuse for not pursuing their ambition. My advice for them, or for anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit?
Just Do it.
I have never been ashamed of telling people my aspirations, goals, and visions of success—In fact, I revel in it. You would think that being hearing that I’m out of my mind, crazy, should quit while I’m ahead, or that that I will eventually fail would deter me. People have to understand that passion and positivity can overcome the most negative thoughts.
I believe successful entrepreneurs are wired differently and are born with such a strong hunger for success, you would think it was woven into our DNA. Consider this: A 12-year-old girl who has an incredible gift for braiding intricate designs in people’s hair would charge barter or charge her friends a few dollars to hook up their hair. People from all over the neighbourhood hear about her skills through word of mouth, and she begins charging people $25 per braid-up. In another part of town, a skilled barber is working in a high-traffic shop. He charges $30 for a tight fade and gets tipped generously. At the end of the day, he pays his chair rent to the shop owner and goes home to his family. He’s content. What’s the difference between the two of them? One is an entrepreneur. The other is an employee.
I can relate with the braider more than the barber in this instance. When I was in middle school,
I was buying, trading and selling sports cards. During the week, I would sell cards to my friends at school—there was a markup of course, and I always made a profit. On the weekends, I would set up a small stand at the Jane and Finch Mall. I had a few signed cards and realized that having them autographed increased their value significantly. Once I knew the profit I could capitalize on, I focused on authentic, autographed cards–gave me a competitive edge, and as a youth, I had an advantage over adults who were selling the same product and paying more expenses.
Once I reached high school, my mentality changed and I was more mature. I was in the numbers game (I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, but I will). Every morning, I would walk through the school hallways and take wagers on scores for the night’s hockey games. For example, a student would predict the score to be Maple Leafs 3 – Senators 2. Once a combination has been picked, it wasn’t available to other betters. Soon I had dozens of students who wanted to bet on games which allowed the pool to grow significantly. Each bet was $5, and the winner would collect half of the pool. I would keep the remainder for my hard 20 minutes of work. This hustle was a daily adventure for me, and taught me the importance of communicating, and I still use some of these basic skills in my daily life.
When I finished high school, I enrolled in college, mostly to placate to my parents. I soon dropped out of my business management program and embarked on my first internet business. I created an online store selling custom shoes and t-shirts and operated out of my Jane and Lawrence apartment. I was a one-man-operation and used my living room to design and screen print my shirts, inviting clients over to try on clothes. Each person who came over converted into channels of promotion and by my third year, I had celebrities wearing my branded clothes, making over $15,000 a day in online sales.
Every one of my ventures was a small stepping stone to where I am now. I’m currently the owner of A Nerd’s World, a creative agency that has two locations and employees 18 full-time staff. We offer nearly ten services and are renowned for as having the best SEO in Toronto. We create over 1000 websites a year, and that number continues to grow.
Like Angela Benton, David Duffield, the girl who braids, I have entrepreneurial drive. Successful entrepreneurs are hardwired to set goals and surpass them. My business is another stepping stone, and I will never be ready to stop—Each day presents new ideas, adventures, and business opportunities. To me, the fun has just begun, and I look forward to a bright and busy future.
Chris A. Hughes