Think Uni is too early to be an entrepreneur? Think again
We recently saw an amusing news story about a 15-year-old boy starting his own business selling sweets. Nathan John-Baptiste began peddling all kinds of chocolate bars, sugary snacks, and fizzy drinks from none other than the boys’ bathroom of his school. Soon enough, he was earning around £230 per day, and even branching out to two other schools with assistance from employees (other teenage kids). The ‘Wolf of Walthamstow,’ as Nathan was quickly dubbed, eventually got rumbled by his teachers and his entrepreneurial stint ended, but not before he earned a boatload of cash and purchased many fancy suits and expensive dinners.
This got us thinking: how young is too young to become a businessperson? It seems evident that age is no barrier, as Nathan’s example proved. If you’ve got the creative hustle and business spirit, then you’re going to go far.
Many of us use age as an excuse to avoid something, when in reality, it’s more lack of experience that holds us back. Everyone has to start at some point, so never say ‘I’m not ready,’ because you’re always ready – you just have to stop being afraid. Sometimes, you’re just born for business. We’re not saying that early education isn’t vital – it is – but Nathan demonstrated that instead of kicking about a football or playing Pokémon at lunchtime, you could use your free time to set up shop and earn some cash, even if it is in a boys’ bathroom.
How lofty should your entrepreneurial dreams be? Well, that depends entirely on you. Let’s use watches as an example, as they are expensive items which have been sold for decades. One option is to be a middleman of sorts, like Nathan, which basically means buying low and selling high (or at least enough to make a profit). Some people are currently doing that with Rolexes, for example, by using selling platforms such as Chrono24, where the watches appear in the listings for that particular brand alongside other vendors. Another route is to start from scratch and sell your own product, as was the case with MVMT watches. Jake Kassan and Kramer LaPlant are the brains behind the flourishing watch manufacturer, who left college to start selling instead. And sell they did, as MVMT has gone from strength to strength since gaining capital via crowdfunding sites.
"In the beginning, you have to be pretty scrappy," Jake explains. "By going straight to the customer, we could cut down the price without sacrificing the quality. When we started MVMT, I was $20,000 in debt and working as a valet. Looking back at that and seeing how far we’ve come, I really hope our story inspires other people to go out and try their own thing."
Jake and Kramar’s story isn’t exactly unique, as so many big names out there started their dream projects in dorm rooms, with little to no desire of ever completing their studies. Most people know about Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, and Apple’s Steve Jobs as the big three of young entrepreneurship success, but there’s also Michael Dell (Dell computers), Jan Koum (WhatsApp) and Evan Williams (Twitter) who all founded projects under the age of 22 that would later turn into billion-dollar companies. We can learn from entrepreneurs and discover how they achieved everything. They didn’t let age or inexperience be a determining factor to how prosperous they could be, they simply went all in and didn’t look back.
General tips for success from entrepreneurs
- Do something you enjoy
- Take it seriously
- Plan ahead as much as possible
- Manage your money carefully
- Promote yourself, but don’t be obnoxious
- Treat your customers with respect
- Build a good reputation
- Don’t be afraid to negotiate
So, with all that in mind, when can you start?