My Advice To Teenage Entrepreneurs: Get A Job.

Daily Blog #135

I get asked for advice by a lot of teenage entrepreneurs.

16 years old, they want to found a startup.

17 years old, they want to found a startup.

And sometimes, it’s okay. There’s a lot of stories out there about young founders who’ve made it and cut through the bullshit.I have a close friend who was a teenage founder who has done an amazing job, who is talented at managing people and building a vision and knows how to be a leader. We’ve worked well together. But that’s the exception.

…As a general rule, the advice I give out is always the same.

If you’re a 16 year old founder and you really want to build a company…

If you really want to build something that lasts…

If you actually want to create jobs and create a positive place to work…

Stop what you’re doing and get a job.

Because being a startup founder isn’t about creating MVPs and scaling them and working out your profit and loss. That’s some of it, sure. But there’s just so, so much more.

There’s knowing how to manage staff, and knowing what it feels like to be managed.

There’s working with people, in a team, and understanding your place in it.

There’s knowing how it feels to be hanging out for a paycheck and needing it to come in, so that you’ll remember how important it is to pay your fucking staff on time.

There’s waking up some days and feeling so drained by your job that you want to cry, and knowing you need time off, and being scared to ask for it, and if you don’t know what that’s like, if you’ve never had to work for your bread from someone else, you won’t know how it feels for the people you manage.

How are you going to know how to hire? fire? How are you going to know how to break the news that you can’t give someone a job when they need it? How are you going to understand any of the real, hard, blood-sweat-and-tears work if you’ve never done it yourself?

Because the reality is, that Lean Startup book isn’t going to teach you what it feels like, what it is like, and what it’s not like to be a part of a company.

I worked at McDonalds for 5 years. I can honestly say, I wouldn’t know how to manage people if I hadn’t. McDonalds was the best experience of my life, and I did it because I needed the money, I was broke and I had to work. I learned everything I ever needed to know about working with other human beings on that Maccas floor. And you know what else? I was a barista. And I delivered papers. And I looked after my friends’ kids. It sucked, a lot of the time. But it was worth every hour and every dollar.

If you want to be an entrepreneur, and you’re a teenager, it’s simple. Go get someone to pay you to learn how a company runs. Until you do, I probably don’t want to hear about your startup. I won’t think you’re special for being 16, I won’t pull my punches, and I won’t be forgiving if you treat your staff like shit. If this isn’t motivating for you — I don’t really care. Go get a job. Then we’ll talk. 🍕🔥💯