I launched my first company, “Lawn Sharks” when I was 18, through the Halton Region Young Entrepreneur program. By the time I was 19, my company was billing over $20,000 a month. I was featured on numerous newspapers as well as interviewed on CH News. I learned more over two summers as a business owner than I did in my five year diploma/degree/graduate degree program.
Here are 7 reasons why I believe every young person should launch their own company.
1) Best way to Learn about real business, with no risks
In my opinion you won’t understand business ownership until you are putting yourself on the line, knocking on doors and pitching your idea. In school, it’s practice, not the real thing. You may be experiencing entrepreneurship but it’s within a controlled environment. Beyond this, most of the time in business school, you learn how to work for someone else, which isn’t bad at all. I have some extremely wealthy friends from MBA programs.
Business may be a difficult choice after completing school because you are losing potential earned income. A graduate can earn approximately 55 K a year, but if they want to launch their own business, not only are they losing that money but they also risk losing their investment. Typically, grads have debt that accumulate interest so when you are finished school, it can be very challenging to take that risk to business ownership.
On the other hand, when you’re in high school, you have a lot of free time. Also, you most likely live at home with zero expenses. So if you start a business, and it absolutely crashes, you have NOTHING to lose. If you are in high school, the only other job you can get is probably minimum wage, so you are losing no real earning potential. When you launch your company, you are literally taking the accelerated path to learning about cash flow forecasting, pitching ideas, balance sheets, accounting, writing a business plan, reading people, communication, etc.
You are so young that if you screw something up, most people (clients, other businesses, law enforcement) will be likely to forgive you (I am not encouraging illegal activities).
When you are living at home, with no expenses, you truly have the ability to choose what you want to do. As you get older and you have bills, a family and even a mortgage, you are tied into your lifestyle. Your tolerance to risk is lower because you can’t risk losing your home/not have food for your family. However, it doesn't mean that it is impossible.
When you are young, you can really think about what makes you inspired and you can set the foundation to a life where you choose to do what you love to do. Where you work, because you want to, not because you have bills to pay. See above, you might work on this one too.
2) Develop the “Driven Fighters” Mindset
When you launch your own company and start knocking on doors, you learn how to hustle, how to sell and how to pitch your idea. It's a very steep learning curve, and it can be extremely challenging. I remember when I started, I sucked, I couldn’t close any deals. However one day my mentor told me “Mike, Don’t go home until you sign your first client.” That day, I knocked on over 100 doors until it got dark, and started to rain at which point I think someone felt bad for me, and signed on.
This mindset will be extremely useful to you in all your future endeavours, whether it’s in school, working out, sports, and of course in your future career.
3) Learn to stop expecting things and learn to get things
The driven mindset is a shift from “what can I get” to “how can I add more value” and “I am going to go out there and get what I deserve.” It changes your mindset from thinking your life is controlled by your circumstances to one where you control your circumstances. It changes from a passive mindset, to an active, always growing mindset.
This will separate you from the people who expect things to be handed to them, waiting for their next raise, waiting for the minimum wage to go up, complaining. No, once you develop the driven fighters mindset, you stop complaining and learn that everything you ever want is out there, all you need to do is go and get it. This mindset may be the most valuable thing you learn, because ultimately if you launch a business in your teens, you may not even continue it when you are older, but what you learn will stay with you forever.
4) Learn how to laugh at stressful situations
When you are young you are probably going to fail more than ever. However, you should never ever fear failing, failing is the best way to learn. Never listen to the people who say you shouldn’t fail, those are the people that are locked into jobs they hate, doing the same bullshit day in and day out. Failing is fun! It's an adventure! I recall when I signed my first $6000 contract, my employee (and friend) and I rented a bobcat, with a massive disposal bin. We were scared shitless because we had no idea how to use it.
However, that is a common trait of all massively successful people; they dare to take risks. They look at stressful situations and smile and laugh, because that's what separates the champions from the average people.
5) Learn How to Sell and Improve your public speaking
No matter what anyone says, your whole life is about selling and presenting. When you are out with your friends, you are presenting. When you are sitting on a bus going home, you are presenting. When you are at an interview, you are presenting and selling yourself. When you want a raise at work, you are selling yourself.
Selling yourself and effective public speaking are two critical skills that will benefit everyone.
6) You Learn What an Employer is looking for
When you launch a business in your teens, it may not necessarily mean you will own a business for the rest of your life. You may very well find something else that fulfills your desire. However, if you launch your own company and experience hiring people, you will understand what an employer is looking for. Once you hire a few of your friends, you immediately know which friend is lazy, you know how to deal with people, how to process salary, payment, and this gives you an understanding of an employers’ needs which will help you in your future potential career. Even if you started a lawn mowing business, and transition into a career as an engineer or lawyer, you will still possess the experience that not many other people will have.
7) Something that sets you apart from the masses.
When I finished school, during my interview, the one thing that my bosses were curious about, and set me distinctively apart from everyone else, was my business. Starting a business shows that you are a self starter, possessing the driven fighters mindset, which is more valuable than any technical skill.
Michael Rao is a key contributor at Driven Fighters. He is passionate about the fighters mentality and motivating other people. He has associated walking into the boxing gym as the day his life changed. His story shows that with hard work anything is possible. Having taken himself from being labeled by his high school teachers as a failure and almost dropping out to opening numerous businesses and graduating with his Master Degree in Engineering (University of Toronto). At just 18 years old, he was featured on CH News, and awarded the Young Entrepreneur Award. His passion and desire to help others made him a perfect example of what a driven fighter is. He has 20+ fights including a national amateur tournament belt.