What do you think of when you hear the word “entrepreneur”?
When most people think of an entrepreneur, they imagine a twenty-something young adult, straight out of college, working tirelessly in a basement on an exciting new business idea that will change the world and make them rich and famous. Or at least that’s what I thought, based on what I saw portrayed in movies and mainstream media.
Over the past three years, my definition of an entrepreneur has changed dramatically. What once seemed a pathway only suitable for adults has turned into a profession shaped by children and teens due to the abundance of youth activists engaging in entrepreneurial business.
My name is Sarah Goody, and I am a 15-year-old climate activist and founder of the youth-led organization, Climate NOW. Through Climate NOW, I have provided climate education to over 20,000 young people across the world.
Today, I will share with you the key business lessons I have learned as a youth activist and entrepreneur, along with some tips for success.
Importance of teamwork and collaboration
In school, whenever possible, I would choose to work individually instead of in a group. Before I got involved with activism, I saw no use for teamwork.
However, I’ve quickly learned that teamwork is key to succeeding as an entrepreneur. Every single one of us on this planet has something special to offer, and by collaborating with others, we can utilize our unique talents to find solutions and grow as individuals. Innovation happens when we work together to create something we are passionate about!
Tip No. 1: Work collaboratively
Find people who share your passion for entrepreneurship and utilize the power of teamwork to amplify your work. Start networking and connecting with other entrepreneurs to meet people whom you click with.
Resilience in business
Entrepreneurs are bound for failure.
I know what you’re thinking: “What do you mean! Many entrepreneurs find success!”
Yes, you’re right, many entrepreneurs do find tangible success. However, it is very rare to achieve success without first facing failure. To be an entrepreneur, you must make peace with the fact that not everything will go your way.
Throughout my journey as an entrepreneur, I have faced this nagging voice in the back of my head telling me I’m not good enough or that I don’t have what it takes. In this age of social media, we are constantly immersed in the highlights of other people’s lives, not the pitfalls. The face that people show on social media isn’t often the life that they are living day to day. It becomes hard to remember that everyone deals with failure.
As entrepreneurs, we must be willing to coexist with failure and learn to appreciate our mistakes and use them as an opportunity to grow as a person and as an entrepreneur.
Tip No. 2: Define your own success
Before you begin, sit down and contemplate the concept of “success.” What does it mean to you?
Are you willing to embark on a journey where failure will be ever more apparent than success? If your answer is “yes,” write yourself a note of encouragement for when difficult times arise. If your answer is “no,” maybe you need to do some more soul searching before taking the entrepreneurial leap at this current time—and that’s OK!
Work smarter, not harder
When I first began doing humanitarian work, I was stuck in this notion that success comes to those who work hard. It took me several years to realize that working hard is not the key to success. No matter how many hours you dedicate to your work, success won’t come if you aren’t strategic. Lay out a foundation for your ideas and work. Set goals and specific actions that will help you achieve them.
Tip No. 3: Set goals
Create a timeline with specific targets to reach. Envision what you will do to reach those goals in the next week, then the next month, then the next 6 months and so on (you get the idea!). Make sure to celebrate both small and big accomplishments along the way.
The importance of self-confidence
Oftentimes, I see activists and entrepreneurs who yearn to make change fail to do so because they lack self-confidence. If you don’t believe in yourself, why would someone else?
Something I have been working on is establishing a better sense of confidence and trust in myself. Whether a lack of confidence stems from body image or feeling inferior to your peers, it is crucial to determine the origin of self-doubt and begin chipping away the layers of insecurities.
I have personally struggled with self-assurance along my journey. In the activism community, there are so many incredible individuals striving to help others. It can be hard to set aside others’ successes from your own.
Surrounded by astonishing activists, I often have a hard time seeing myself as worthy of being recognized amongst them. What I have taught myself is to separate my worth from the worth of the people I am collaborating with.
I urge all entrepreneurs to evaluate their self-worth and remind themselves on a regular basis that they are capable of everything they dream of accomplishing. Try hiding notes of encouragement in your calendar as future reminders!
Tip. No. 4: Build self-confidence
Take out a piece of paper and write a list of every word that you would use to describe yourself—both good and bad. Then, go through your list. For each word with a negative connotation, find another word with a positive connotation to replace it. For example, instead of the word “annoyingly persistent,” write “outspoken.” Use these positive descriptions of yourself to remind you of your strengths.
Being a young entrepreneur has taught me how to be the best version of myself. I hope that this compilation of the business lessons I have learned over the past few years will serve as a starting point for your journey.
And my new definition of “entrepreneur,” you may ask?
“An individual using innovation, creativity and wit to problem-solve.”
Being an entrepreneur is not limited to a specific age range. As a result of the youth activist movement, there are a large number of kids and teens redefining what it means to be an entrepreneur. Regardless of age, the keys to being a successful entrepreneur are the same, from working collaboratively to defining success and setting goals to building your self-confidence.
So, what is stopping you from starting up your dream business? Follow my tips for success and you will be on your way to becoming a successful entrepreneur in your own right.