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I started my blog Learn in Color at 14 years old. I was a quirky teen with free internet access and too much time on her hands. About a year later, I got connected with some amazing bloggers and realized you could make money blogging. As I navigated the world of Facebook and Pinterest, I started to learn marketing tricks and grow an audience. Along the way, a few people had seen my successes on social media and I was soon running the social media accounts of several people. I later was creating content regularly for about a dozen people.
At 16, I finished high school. I started competing in pageants to pay for college. A year later, I entered college and finished in 2.5 years. I graduated cum laude and debt-free: my parents didn’t help me financially in any capacity.
All of the sacrifices that I poured over the past decade has allowed me to live in Los Angeles with a blog that brings in primarily passive income. I have a fully flexible schedule doing something I love: an amazing privilege.
It’s easy to see my success and think, “Wow, she’s had it so easy!”
Here’s the thing: the journey hasn’t been easy and I didn’t have support for several years. I didn’t come from a wealthy family. My childhood was chaotic. College was a rough time socially, especially because of the strong conservative environment.
Despite that, I wouldn’t have done anything in business differently. In many ways, entrepreneurship has been an escapism and a creative outlet before I became an adult and had the ability to find these circles myself.
Through the ups and downs, here are five things I’ve learned from being a teen entrepreneur.
5 Things I’ve Learned from Being a Teen Entrepreneur
1. You’re going to have supporters. You’re going to have doubters.
People told me graduating debt-free without financial help was impossible.
People told me graduating in 2.5 years was impossible.
People told me making a full-time income blogging was impossible.
Want to know a secret? It’s not impossible. 🙂
I had a lot of supporters from ages 14-16. I had reached a full-time income (marketing and design) by the time I was 17 years old. Despite that, as I got older, people went from supportive to a bit more concerned: are you sure you’re making enough money? What if the business goes downhill? My personal favorite was: When are you going to get a real job? (At the time, I was often making more money than my friends with “real” jobs.)
2. Focus on your strengths instead of envying the talents of others.
I’m bad at a lot of things: cooking, sports, and finding my car (don’t ask about this). My brain is undoubtedly meant for entrepreneurship and marketing. Figure out where your natural strengths lie and run with that.
3. Fail? Find out that entrepreneurship not for you? That’s okay! You have a great story later.
Having a business in your teens – from lawncare to blogging – looks GREAT on a resume and will help you land a job in the future. I have a few friends that started businesses in their teens who went into traditional jobs later. All of them had an easy time getting hired since their resume stood out.
4. Find your people…sometimes in unlikely areas.
It took me a while to “find my people.” I didn’t think they existed. When I was 20, I had just finished college, got out of circles that were easy and convenient, and slowly started to attract “my people.” One unlikely place I found community: pageantry. The Miss America Organization connected me with motivated, altruistic, and talented women doing incredible things in the world. Being a computer nerd, it came as a surprise when I ended up doing well in pageants. (Pageants also helped me pay for college. I paid for my pageant outfits and prep too – budgeting for the win!)
5. Big dreams require big sacrifices.
Work hard and work smart. I moved out of the house at 17 and have been financially self-sufficient since then, but it was not easy. I didn’t eat out in college. I spent the weekends working on products that wouldn’t make me money until years later. These sacrifices aren’t for everybody and took a lot, but I was confident they’d pay off in the future.