10 Reasons to Start a Business (While You’re Still a Teenager)

bored_and_poorThe postcard in the picture describes in just two words how many of us used to feel all too frequently during our teenage years. In Getting Loaded: 50 Start Now Strategies for Making 1,000,000 While You’re Still Young Enough To Enjoy It, Peter Bielagus spells out his suggestion for young people who’re not happy about being bored and poor: Start a business!

This clashes with common wisdom, which favors waiting until you’re older and more experienced. But by waiting you risk leaving it until you’re surrounded by responsibilities -work, children, mortgage- and with no free time to speak of. While you’re a teenager you’ve got lots of time at your disposal, and those years are likely to be your most creative ones. Why not put them to good use?

Starting a business while young, whether it grows into a full-time occupation or remains a part-time endeavor that you abandon before you finish college or get a job, will provide you with a wealth of experience that’ll serve you well whatever you end up doing in later life. As Bielagus puts it in Getting Loaded, “It will teach you things no classroom can teach you, like how to deal with rejection, fear, failure, success, and, most important, people”. Consider it your very own practical MBA.

While there are good reasons to start a business at any point in life (no age is too young, none is too old), these are the main ones why it pays to start a business while you’re a teenager:

  1. You can afford to take more risks. You don’t have to worry about whether investing in the business puts your children’s financial wellbeing at risk. Plus, in the face of any setback, you’ve got many years in front of you to recover -or try again.

  2. You have drive. You’re in the age of thinking big. Your dreams have no ceiling and you’re passionate beyond reason. Tap into that energy -and apply it to an idea you believe in.

  3. You have energy -certainly more than most people 20 years older than you.

  4. You want to annoy your parents. Don’t they give you a hard time with their never-ending speeches about becoming a lawyer? Show them there’s more to life than Law School!

  5. You want to make your parents proud, too. They’ve told you a hundred times you should grow up. What a better way to show you’re able to take responsibility for your own life?

  6. The experience will serve you later in life, whether you continue with the business, start another one, go to college, or get a job.

  7. You hate feeling bored. Once you start working on your idea, you won’t have time for boredom. Actually, you won’t have much free time at all. But as long as you’re working in your passion, you won’t miss it, either.

  8. You have plenty of friends. I bet that many of them are also looking for something to do. They can become a source of cheap labor to tap into, they can help you brainstorm ideas, or even become your business partners.

  9. You want to be popular. How many people your age own their own company? Your friends will admire this, and you may even inspire some of them to start a businesses of their own -and they’ll queue to get your expert opinion.

  10. You want to find your purpose. A business will expose you to activities you’ve never performed before. Do you hate keeping business books? Do you enjoy developing ideas to help others? Do you love the contact with other people? Everything you discover about your likes and dislikes will help you find a direction for your adult life.

So if you’re young and have a passion, give a thought to the possibility of turning it into a business. Don’t let the hurdles -lack of money the most obvious one- deter you from trying: be creative and you’ll come up with ways around them. Ask yourself:

  • How could my passion be turned into a product or service that would benefit other people?

  • Is there a similar product or service in the market people are prepared to pay for? Can I improve on it?

  • Which creative strategies can I use to put my product or service in the market without a big initial investment? Could I start pitching it to neighbors, colleagues, friends, local associations?

Hopefully answering these questions will provide you with a whole new perspective on what until now you considered just a hobby. So now just get moving. Good luck!