Becoming an Entrepreneur / By Caleb Dunson
By Caleb Dunson We all have an image of a typical entrepreneur. You know, the person living in Silicon Valley, spending eighteen hours a day coding and making billions of dollars every year. But that isn’t what most entrepreneurs look like; they’re everyday people who do things like sell clothes, record music, or even manage social media accounts. Entrepreneurship is no longer something reserved for the elite or highly educated. In a survey of entrepreneurs done by CNBC and reported in the article, “A Secret Many Small-Business Owners Share with Mark Zuckerberg”, 56 percent of respondents did not have a college degree (Juang, 2017). Additionally, according to the US Small Business Administration’s publication “Frequently Asked Questions About Small Businesses”, from 2005 to 2017, 78.6 percent of businesses survived their first year (US Small Business Administration, 2018). As teens, you are uniquely positioned for entrepreneurial success in ways that other age groups are not. When starting a business, you have the ability to use your talents and skills to make money, as you would in a job, but with entrepreneurship you gain ownership of the work that you do. Furthermore, because you are still in high school, the risk inherent in starting a business is much lower. If you fail, you can cut your losses and continue school. However, if you succeed, a world of financial freedom and opportunity opens up. Matthew Burzec, founder and CEO of Kicks of Chicago, a sneaker customization business, says, “earning my own income has allowed me to spend and invest in my own needs and future rather than relying on a set weekly income from my parents,” (Burzec, 2019). Entrepreneurship also puts you in a position of leadership. You are given the opportunity to learn how to work with others, plan and execute strategies, and manage a variety of things at once; skills you will need for the rest of your life, whether you want to continue with entrepreneurship or not. Emmanuel Thompson, founder and CEO of Strength Together, a mental health app for teens, said being an entrepreneur forced him to grow and pushed him to take responsibility for getting things done (Thompson, 2019). Perhaps most importantly, entrepreneurship grants you the ability to make an impact in your community. In founding my nonprofit organization, Youth Entrepreneurship League, which supports young entrepreneurs as they grow their businesses, I have learned about the impact that business can have (learn more at YELChicago.com). With entrepreneurship, you no longer have to rely on others to make improvements in your community, you can start to do it yourself.