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Advice to an 11-Year-Old on Becoming an Entrepreneur

October 8, 2015

A friend’s 11-year-old son recently started a business by enlisting school mates to participate and donating a portion of their profits to charity.  I met him and he seems like a really good kid – and alert, bright and attentive.  This is someone I would like to help and decided to use today’s blog for that purpose.  However, everything here can apply to anyone at any age who might be wanting to take a leap into their own business.

Being an entrepreneur is one of the hardest things to do.  People can be brilliant in whatever skill or trade they work in but being an entrepreneur requires brilliance in numerous skills aside from an excellent working knowledge of their product and industry.  Following are some skills that need to be mastered.

  • An entrepreneur’s focus is to see that the business operates profitably, efficiently, effectively and in line with its strategic plan and long-term goals.
  • The entrepreneur needs to see that each person working in the business has a role consistent with that focus and that they perform what they need to do and the way they need to do it following the time constraints.
  • The entrepreneur needs to simultaneously juggle many balls – sales and marketing, inventory management and production scheduling, delivery methodology, project management and customer service protocols.
  • The mechanics of running a business also require the entrepreneur to be involved in and effectively oversee invoices being timely issued and collected; cash flow management; vendors supplying the right quality merchandise and then being paid; personnel hiring, training, development and guiding and mentoring so they grow; the organization’s culture and brand has to be molded and ingrained into every aspect of the operations with an unswerving hand; leases need to be obtained; credit lines established; bookkeeping and accounting records maintained; and income taxes and legal issues need to be handled by the right professionals invited to be on the team.
  • You need to manage risk, obtain funding in the form of loans and investments, and at some point plan for your succession.
  • The entrepreneur needs an alert and inquisitive nature to consider why successful products and marketing programs, new uses of existing products and just about anything new fills existing needs or create new ones.

These are daunting tasks and while many schools are just starting to introduce courses in entrepreneurship, much of this can only be learned in the school of hard knocks.

One way an 11-year-old, or anyone at any age, can acquire an education is to read biographies of successful entrepreneurs.  Some that I recommend are by or about Benjamin Franklin, Sam Walton, John D. Rockefeller, Warren Buffett and Marc Ecko.  There are others but any one of these would make a great start.  Another way is to read magazines such as Fast Company, Success Magazine and Inc. and also search out articles in daily newspapers or newsfeeds about businesses and their leaders.  This sounds intimidating, but it isn’t and if you are dedicated to becoming an entrepreneur each thing you do becomes part of the adventure that lies ahead of you.

Being a successful entrepreneur supplies a satisfaction that I believe is second to none in the world of commerce and I highly recommend it for those so inclined.  I have been working my entire career with entrepreneurs and can tell you that there is no better occupation or feeling than being your own boss creating new products and jobs, and personal wealth.

You get started with an idea and then run with it.  However, there is more to this such as clearly conveying the idea and the strategy for achieving your vision, and the benefits to an investor when you need capital to launch your business. This takes serious, thoughtful and careful planning with the right advisors and backers.

Starting a business is exciting and fulfilling.  Good luck on your journey.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 6hawthorne permalink
    October 8, 2015 11:45 am


  2. Ed Mendlowitz permalink
    October 9, 2015 12:48 am

    From an email from a friend, which I wholeheartedly concur with:
    In my humble opinion, and never having been an entrepreneur so I can’t “certainly” speak authoritatively, the first skill that seems that needs to be mastered leads to the first one on your list, namely:
    “Clearly think through and write out what you currently visualize as your strategic plans and long-term goals for your new venture. Having them on paper (or on a computer screen) in front of you should help you to move forward. And periodically review the document to see that you’re on the right path or modify your original plans and goals according to what you’ve learned in the interim.”

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