Entrepreneurship is for teens, too Print
Youth Column
Written by Karen Osborne, Catholic News Service   
Thursday, Mar. 20, 2014 -- 12:00 AM

Most people will, at some point in life, become an entrepreneur, whether to build a business or for charity.

Anshul Samar, 19, a freshman at Stanford University, turned a love for card games into Elementeo, a Pokemon-style board game that helps students learn the tough subject of chemistry in a fun and engaging way.

For my sister-in-law, Carrie Patterson, a love of cats led her to found Nashville Cat Rescue in Tennessee. The organization has rescued thousands of cats from streets and high-kill shelters. Many have been adopted by loving families.

Successful entrepreneurs have skills that benefit them throughout life as the head of a corporation or as the head of the family. They plan ahead, manage money easily, have good focus and concentration, and work well with others. They weren't born with these skills. They learned them on the job.

You don't need to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs to learn and exercise those skills. You can start right now: code and sell a video game, write and self-publish a novel, or create and sell things in an online craft store.

You can be like Samar, helping to share your passion. Or you can be like Leanna Archer, 17, who has a line of all-natural hair care products, and 14-year-old Lizzie Marie Likness, who started a website to help kids eat healthier.

Entrepreneurship will teach you the job skills that your teachers and parents are harping about. The good thing is that it doesn't have to be a huge success to reap amazing rewards.

What should you expect from a business or charity?

First, understand that you might fail and that's not a bad thing. Some of the biggest business owners out there failed numerous times before they hit their lucky strike and, in the process, learned important lessons that helped them succeed in the future.

Entrepreneurship isn't about lawn mowing, handmade jewelry, the clothing you collect for the homeless, or even the entrepreneur. It's about the customers and clients you work with: making their lives happier and better.

Successful business owners and charity directors, no matter what age, race, or business category, keep meeting others' needs and desires -- whether it's water for a village that doesn't have a well or an app that allows you to meet up and make plans with friends.

Expect that you're going to get better as you go along. A well-run charity or business will give you a lot of practice in building skills, teamwork, and negotiating with others. Nothing will help you graduate from high school cliques to real world relationships faster than dipping your feet in entrepreneurial waters.

Even if you hit rough waters, don't give up. Being an entrepreneur isn't easy, but it's worthwhile. Even if you find out that being at the helm of a ship isn't for you, you'll have some skills you didn't have before and wonderful stories to tell.


Karen Dietlein Osborne contributes to "Coming of Age," a CNS column series for and about youth. She is a staff writer for the Evangelist, newspaper of the Diocese of Albany, N.Y..

 
 

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