In entrepreneurship age is not a barrier


What does it really take to start a business? And is there a perfect age? With the average age of a successful entrepreneur hovering around 45 years of age according to the latest Harvard Business Review study, many are skeptical of the true potential of youth in building viable businesses.  Do they have enough experience? Do they have enough education? Enough knowledge? Networks? Access to resources? The reality is that the lack of education or experience is not a barrier in starting a business, and age shouldn’t be either, we have witnessed it first hand.

From hardware companies, social networks, social enterprises, physical hardware and deep technology companies they are tackling issues in a myriad of innovative ways, and not apologizing for it. Young people are doing all sorts of crazy stuff, perhaps just crazy to those that don’t anticipate youth under 25 building meaningful businesses or developing that next unicorn start up. But don’t forget entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs built Apple when he was only 21 out of his garage with Steve Wozniak or Sophia Amoroso who was only 22 when she conceived what would become Nasty Gal.  

Age is just another number.  

Here at League of Innovators, not only do we believe the facts we also work with these youth day in and day out. The more work we do, the more youth we find, in all corners of our world. In this day and age, although its noisy, it is easier to build a business idea or project idea from concept to a tangible business enterprise. Youth have all the tools necessary to start a start up right at their fingertips. But why do so many young people not pursue their ideas? Quite often they simple they don’t think they can do it, perhaps that the are too young, don’t have enough experience or connections. Perhaps its because you don’t know anything about starting a business. We are here to tell you, that you can do it, even if you have no experience, no connections, and have never started a company. How do we know? We have seen it first hand all over the country on university campuses and high school classrooms. Take these three examples of youth entrepreneurs that recently worked with us through the LOI Labs accelerator program – regardless of what kind of programming we provide these youth are forging their own paths and building really incredible businesses.

Take Madison Guy for instance at 24 she has built GrantMe – shaking up the untapped market of unused scholarship dollars and directing them to those that need them most– students. Moving over $1million in student scholarships in her first year of business alone.  

Or Tara Bosch who launched her kick sugar company SmartSweets at the mere age of 21 with a gummy bear mold from Amazon, and has built her idea into a multimillion dollar business with products on grocery store shelves all across North America.

Or Sam Samida–Pugh who at the mere age of 16 decided he wanted to solve the worlds energy issues by developing an energy neutral nuclear fusion reactor that was small enough it could be a local or micro local source of energy. He has since built his first working alpha phase prototype and is building a business to fuel that fire – Progressive Fusion

These are just a couple of examples of young people that took the leap. There are lots more out there, and more starting every single day. But the reality is taking that first step and jumping in an entrepreneurship path even as a side hustle is not easy but it’s extremely rewarding. There really is never a ‘too late’ or ‘too early’ time to get started. The best way to build a start up is to do just that – START.  As CBC Dragon Michele Romanow says – ‘the best way to learn how to run a business is to start running one when you are 17.’

But on that topic here are three tips to get you started:

1. Find an entrepreneurial buddy. The entrepreneurial journey is hard, and building a startup one can be though. Just cause you had the idea doesn’t mean you have to go at it alone. Talk to your friends or classmates and see if anyone is interested in joining you in pursuing your business idea or project. If no one seems to resonate don’t despair there are plenty of folks building start ups, you just need to find them. Join an entrepreneur club or a connector hub (LOI) to find all those youth excited about entrepreneurship just like you are.

2. Use a tool – It can feel like you are jumping into the void without much information – its because you most likely are. Why not use a tool like the Lean Canvas or even our Start up Workbook to guide your ideas and provide you tangible steps you need to consider while building your start up tool.  We are often so excited about our idea we avoid some of the most important factors of building a start up like ensuring that there is a problem to solve and that we are measuring our development through metrics.

3. Build a prototype. The best way to ensure that an idea gets put into action and gets tested is to actually build the concept into a prototype. That way you have something to show or share when you are telling everyone about your idea. You can build a prototype website, an app through an online app builder, or even a cardboard prototype. The most important part is to get your idea out of your head into the world.

And remember while the entrepreneurial journey may often feel like a solo mission you are not alone!