Simply put, entrepreneurship is the act of setting up and managing a business to earn a profit ultimately. I first dipped my toes into the world of entrepreneurship at the age of 17 as a means to challenge my limits after pursuing a college education.
Despite having no business exposure and was pursuing a degree in computing, I ventured into eight different businesses in various industries, including education, e-commerce, fashion, events, and technology.
Through the process, I discovered a gap between technology and marketing where businesses tend to keep both parts far apart when the world is trying to bring them together – in which OpenMinds was founded to help brands grow using martech for their businesses.
Having discovered a taste for entrepreneurship early in life, I realised that there is a difference between an entrepreneur and a business owner, where it’s more likely for the former to own a business. At the same time, the latter may not necessarily be an entrepreneur.
This comes down to how an entrepreneur thinks, solves problems and accept failures where it is not solely about building a successful business. That said, I am a huge advocate for entrepreneurship from a young age.
Whether to pursue a passion project, start a business, or bring this mindset into a job, it is almost always disadvantageous to start early. In fact, it’s the best time in life to fail!
The benefits of starting young
They say that starting a business is akin to taking a leap of faith, but it’s much more than that. Beneath all the usual keywords like perseverance, passion, sacrifice, self-driven is a whole lot of insanity to deal with that challenges both your physical and mental health.
The best part about this is that people generally deal with these better at a younger age. Unlike being employed, you have fewer commitments such as mortgages or starting a family and have a fixed schedule that you have some flexibility over.
During this period, young entrepreneurs will have more room for error and options to start anew even if they fail than starting at a later age, though not impossible! Especially if you are still a student, you have unlimited access to resources on campus, human capital (think about your peers), and even financing opportunities.
Furthermore, starting your entrepreneurial journey at a young age also means working on an idea as soon as it forms, as you are less likely to be hindered by the responsibilities that often come with getting older. This gives you an edge over others, resulting in a higher chance of your business venture flourishing.
Above all, entrepreneurship teaches important life lessons. Whether your venture becomes a multi-million dollar business or not, it is undeniable that being an entrepreneur teaches management and independence while ensuring job readiness and unbeatable problem-solving skills that will aid in any future endeavour.
Facing your challenges as an entrepreneur
It is an understatement to say that business owners face many ups and downs on their journey towards success. In fact, most entrepreneurs have a series of failures before any form of success before having another series of failures again, both big and small.
That is why it is imperative not to be discouraged even by the lowest of lows.
If it’s of any consolation, my entrepreneurship journey wasn’t all smooth sailing either. When I first started, I experienced my fair share of doubts and, at one point, suffered ridiculed by my friends, clients, and even vendors.
Being only technically trained, it was a huge challenge for me to get my business up and running. Starting from square one without prior education and experience in this specific field didn’t make things easier either, resulting in plenty of innocent mistakes, not to mention that resources were hard to come by, and I had no one to seek help from.
Making matters worse, the startup ecosystem back then was pretty much non-existent.
Being a young entrepreneur is by no means easy, and there are no shortcuts to success. It is a gruelling learning process and self-discovery, especially when operating with minimal resources, experience, and network.
I’ve learnt from countless mistakes myself, from financial management, administrative oversights, partnership failures, employment heartbreaks, and plenty of scaling pains… including precious life lessons along the way!
The truth is that I had plenty of opportunities to give up, but instead, at every turn, I’ve used my failures as fuel to do better and to slowly accumulate favourable results no matter how small they are over the months and years.
This fired up my spirit to do what I’m doing today– to make a change in the industry and to impact the lives of others regardless of their experience and position, which is the main reason why I also make time to lecture part-time, sit on the academic advisory board of universities and also mentor students, founders and professionals in the region.
Tapping in for support
As we now live in a time of abundance, there is no longer a need to start a business as a young entrepreneur blindly as I did. Given the access to knowledge and network, you can observe and learn from those who have already succeeded in their industries and career. In fact, that was the main reason my co-founders and I created OpenAcademy, an educational platform that runs parallel to OpenMinds.
While OpenMinds assists business owners to grow their business reach using marketing technologies, OpenAcademy serves as a database where novice and experienced business owners alike can access thousands of resources such as insights and perspectives from industry experts whilst building meaningful networks with similar minded people.
The platform ultimately aims to provide do-it-yourself solutions that will result in business sustainability and long-term growth.
While the sad reality is that not all business ventures will be successful, I believe that it is important for aspiring business owners to act on their ideas sooner rather than later. Being young means plenty of growth opportunities, and there is no better time than now to get started.
I will leave you with a quote that I hold and practice in OpenMinds, “Your mindset determines the size of the life-game you play” – those who ‘get there’ are those that dare to dream, dare to take action, and dare to fail.
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