I fell in love with entrepreneurship at the age of nine, and since then I’ve been experimenting in the fields of marketing, technology, and philanthropy. Today at nineteen, I’m the founder of Fuze8, a real estate tech startup based in Austin, TX.
Surround Yourself With People Who Help You Grow
Your environment shapes who you are. In high school, I knew very few entrepreneurs, which made me stand out. When I started college, I was introduced to a bustling community of young entrepreneurs that challenged me to do better – my conversations with friends suddenly shifted from being based on what we were doing (i.e. watching a movie) to intellectual ones, where I would engage in debates on topics such as business, technology, and innovation. I spent time with friends that were ambitious, passionate about startups and technology, and traveled frequently, and that was the person I became.
What qualities do you want to see in yourself? Find them in the people closest to you.
Make an effort to surround yourself with not only ambitious peers but also mentors that have achieved the goals you are working towards. This does two things: it allows you to learn from the experience of others, and it makes big dreams feel realistic. You get to learn how founders overcame obstacles, helping you anticipate and overcome your own. It’s also reassuring when you meet successful individuals, and you realize that they started out just like you. It’s a nice reminder that great companies take time to build and that you’ll get there one day.
Use Your Resources
Absorb as much information as you can, and learn through every opportunity you are afforded. Take online courses on platforms like Udemy, Coursera, or edX. Find startup events to attend in your city by searching Eventbrite or using Startup Digest. Message strangers on LinkedIn asking to learn about their experiences. Do internships, help people for free – anything you can do to practice what you’ve learned. In my experience, people love seeing the initiative I’ve taken through steps like these, and because of this, they’re often willing to go out of their way to help in areas where I’m struggling, whether it be through a phone call or an introduction.
Failure is Okay
Not only is failure is inevitable, but it’s also a critical component to achieving success. This is where being young comes to your advantage, as you likely don’t have significant financial responsibilities, and you have the time and freedom to experiment with different ideas. There’s going to be a certain set of mistakes you’re going to make in your entrepreneurial journey anyways, might as well make them early on when you don’t have a lot to lose. Worst case, if your startup doesn’t succeed, you’ve learned a few lessons and can try again. And if you decide startups aren’t for you, you instantly become a more attractive job candidate.
Bonus: If you’re young and on a budget, you learn how to bootstrap exceptionally well.
If possible, make an effort to frequently visit startup hubs. It’s a great way to meet people and get introduced to new thoughts and ideas. On a bus from Boston to Providence, I had an hour-long conversation about AI & automation wiping out the need for jobs. Or take Seattle for example, where I met a mentor in an Uber pool leaving the airport. Las Vegas – where I had a conversation with Larry King about my startup in front of about 300 people. And Silicon Valley, where sessions at conferences are titled “How to Build a Billion Dollar Startup”.
Be Ready For What’s Ahead
Remember that there will be ups and downs in your entrepreneurial journey. There will be days where you look around and won’t believe your eyes as to how far you’ve come. You’ll also have days where you’re chronically sleep deprived and nothing seems to work, and that’s okay. Enjoy the ride, it’s a wild one. And whatever you do, do it with passion.