The benefits to becoming an entrepreneur are clear and obvious; money, notoriety, freedom, and the list goes on. However, the potential downsides (and associated risks) of teenage entrepreneurship are hardly ever examined.
Let me shed some light on five reasons why entrepreneurship can potentially be harmful at a young age along with tips on how to minimize the downside.
1. Your school marks could suffer when you start a business.
There is absolutely zero doubt that becoming an entrepreneur will take dedication. No matter what happens, you must take care of your products, employees, and customers.
Do you have a big exam tomorrow? It does not matter. As Kevin O’Leary, venture capitalist and ABC’s Shark Tank television personality would say, “Money does not care.” Let’s hope that your small empire can survive the next 24 hours without you. If not, guess where you will be? Fixing it.
Tip: Understand, early on, the dedication, commitment and discipline it will take to run a company and manage your coursework.
2. Your social life will perish.
It’s Friday night, where are you? Unless you are satisfied with your accomplishments (which you should not be, regardless of how your week went) you should be at home innovating. There is always something to be done when you start a business. In fact, it often seems as though there are not enough hours in a day.
Tip: Make sure you use each day wisely. You have one shot in life, make sure it counts.
3. The possibility of of failing is real.
You have probably read the quotes about experiencing failure before achieving success. But the possibility of failing is a part of motivation. No one wants to fail, but in reality you are not invincible.
Chances are you will fail hundreds, if not thousands of times, before you hit a real success. Whether it is an email you should or should have not sent out, or a marketing strategy you should have used … you will fail many times.
Tip: The key to avoiding embarrassment is to keep your ideas to yourself until they succeed. When starting a business, it is sometimes best to keep it quite until things start succeeding.
4. The associated risk is colossal.
Well the risk is not as big as starting a business at any age after 20, assuming your parents pay your living expenses. But entrepreneurship is always risky, regardless of your age. If you decide to attend college, chances are, you will be working towards paying for your tuition. Spending time to start a business, may be difficult when it comes time to pay for college.
Tip: Consider all of the risks associated with starting a business and decide what you’re willing to lose in order to gain the title of “entrepreneur.”
5. Age barriers can be frustrating.
The majority of business vendors, especially payment processors, have a minimum age requirement — usually 18. If you are forced to verify your age, you could be without a payment processor for weeks, or even months!
Tip: Ask your parents, siblings, or friends to help you get started with new vendors and overcome associated age barriers you may encounter.
6. Your parents may not support you.
You may not think it is a big deal. However, “Get out of the house!”, “Go play with your friends!”, “Do something productive!”, “Get a job!”, could be some of what you could hear after a few months of starting a company. It can be very discouraging at first, but if you are like most successful entrepreneurs, it will just provide you with the motivation you need to succeed.
Tip: Look for support in local entrepreneur organizations, business clubs and other like-minded peers.
In conclusion, being a teen entrepreneur certainly has its downsides. So next time you hear about a teen making thousands, or even millions, think about what he or she has scarified and overcome in the process.
Josh MacDonald is a Canadian teenage entrepreneur. He has found success in the software industry, specifically SEO tools. With thousands of paying customers and dozens of employees, it’s hard to say what this young entrepreneur will be doing next. Connect with Josh on Twitter.