It’s a familiar scenario. You’re sitting at your desk after the boss has chewed you out for something that wasn’t your fault or you didn’t do.
There’s an old fantasy that returns as you stare out the window from your kiosk and imagine the name over the building is yours.
It’s that one where you’re the boss the person that tells everyone else what to do. The kingpin that answers questions, allocates work and spends money from behind the big mahogany desk with your name on the plate on top.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? While that’s the ideal that everyone who goes into business for themselves dreams about, the reality is quite different.
Sure, everyone’s heard about the long hard hours that entrepreneurs put in to get their businesses up and running, but there’ s a school of thought that feels success in your own business has a lot of other ingredients some of which you might not have expected.
Remember how important these trailblazers are: while there are 22 million self-employed people in the U.S., there are 28 million small businesses in America that employ more than 50 percent of the working population. Both groups have their fair share of entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs Are Like Racehorses
First off, it would seem that younger entrepreneurs might be a lot like racehorses in that they need to have a good pedigree to get started. Consider one of the youngest thoroughbreds to notch a place in the hallowed halls of Internet Marketing, Charles Floate. He’s included in the upper echelon of those helping others to market online for several reasons including:
- The fact that he not only had a computer at age six, but he developed a game with it that sold
- The fact that by the ripe old age of 20, his business had blossomed into a $1 million a year money maker
His entrepreneurial-DNA led him to want that early computer when most of his contemporaries were bouncing balls and skipping with ropes, but the origins of his enthusiasm for all things cyberspace can be traced back a little further.
“My grandmother was a coder for British gas in the 80s and 90s, and my granddad was a water engineer and was one of the first to adopt CAD for engineering,” he said recently from his home in the UK. “Both of them transferred computing skills to me, and my granddad bought a computer that I'd go on every evening after school when I was literally four or five. By the time I was six, I was so in love I asked everyone in my family to get me a computer and there it was… glistening on my birthday.”
Now, before you race out to check the family tree to see if there’re any names like Jobs or Zuckerberg buried in your past, take solace in the fact there are other paths to the success mountaintop even if you don’t have the right genes. All it takes is a change in perspective, according to Floate, and the ability to understand how you can learn to mold that raw business idea into something saleable by taking advantage of all the learning experiences the web has to offer. Here’s a few more interesting statistics. A full 52 percent of small businesses in the U.S. are home-based with 19.4 million being sole proprietorships.
This young business tycoon, who thinks that the educational system lets future captains of industry down by not teaching them necessary skills like invoicing and taxes, sings the praises of the Internet for those looking to learn a trade or skill they can use to get started. He points to some great free online tools and specifically to eduy.com as an excellent way to get free lectures on everything from psychology to robotics from some of the biggest universities in the world.
However, not everything you’ll need to run your own company can be found on a monitor or as a genetically-based premonition that cyberspace is your family home. There’s an element of not being afraid to take chances and stretch beyond your comfort zone that goes into the successful budding young business leader. Once again, Floate provides an extraordinary example where he found an important ingredient at age 11 in The World Junior Magicians Championships.
“Getting up in front of 3,000 people at one of the UK's biggest venues at 11 felt amazing, and it was a lot of hard work that ended up paying off big time. Of course, I didn't win, I was the youngest there, but it gave me the confidence and insight to know I could achieve anything I put my mind to and showed that goals do come true,” says the 20-year-old who has big plans for the future.
While it’s a good idea if you’re under 30 and thinking about starting a business to follow in the footsteps of a mentor like Floate, you’ll want to take heed that not all of his experiences are lessons to emulate. He was, after all, the young computer whiz that hacked into the FBI website when he was 19 and only escaped severe punishment by turning his skills and life around.
In the end, his last bit of advice to other budding young entrepreneurs is about taking things slow and letting your business evolve even if you have lots of capital and strive to remember there’s a lighter side to being young and successful.
“My plans for the future involve a lot of work to build up something more passive, yet sustainable, so I can concentrate on the important things in life, like beaches and video games,” he says.