Illustration by Ece Ciftci

Why do teenagers make great entrepreneurs?

Bill Gates co-launched Microsoft when he was 20. Steve Jobs was 21 when he co-founded Apple. Mark Zuckerberg was also 20, when he put up thefacebook.com online (Seward, 2007). Notice a pattern? How do these people receive success at such a young age? Is there a correlation with being young, even being a teenager, and becoming a successful entrepreneur? The answers seems to be yes, and this article will try to delve into the reasons.

Setting up one’s own venture requires a certain amount of energy, and teenagers are already a part of that young, vibrant, energetic, diverse group. They are fluent in their unique language; one that every brand hopes to adopt as a communication strategy in order to reach out to a distinct set of target audience. They know how to talk to people like themselves.

A second thing worth mentioning about teenagers, or Generation Z as they are currently called, is that they were born into the world of the internet (Jörg, 2017) and they have a genetic inclination towards being technologically savvy (Brown, 2010). Being genetically more adapt to technology helps them viscerally grasp the developments faster than their older rivals or counterparts, who work extra hard to gain a full sense of what is going on.

Perhaps it would be mean to refer to the word “ignorance” here, but knowing relatively less might help when setting up one’s venture. Young people tend to be less discouraged and carry less of a baggage with them.

Learning more and more might lead to a growing vision, and one’s talent may not keep up with it. Teenagers do not have to worry about this, and their arrogance –albeit unlikeable– might work in these cases.

When you go big for a dream and fail, it might be hard to pick yourself back up again. Yet if we are talking about teenagers or people in their 20s, these are most likely students or people who have recently dropped out of school. This would mean that they have the luxury to start all over again if nothing goes according to plan. Worst case scenario, it would be a great experience for them; they would learn from it and grow as a person, and as an independent entrepreneur. This luxury is also lacking in people who have to switch from the status of employee to employer. It is a tough decision to cross over to that side of the tracks and there is a certain risk involved. When you do not go all in and continue with your day job, you might also feel the entrapment of conflicting schedules. This is another thing teens would be relatively comfortable in.

Are you familiar with Chef’s Table? It’s a documentary series running on Netflix since 2015 that focuses on a renowned chef in every episode. The pilot episode features Massimo Bottura and his restaurant “Osteria Francescana”, located in Modena, Italy. One of the many stories that Chef Bottura tells is the creation of one of his special dishes, titled “Oops, I Dropped The Lemon Tart!” It begins with a regular lemon tart being actually dropped and Bottura seizing this opportunity to create something authentic. Instead of sulking over a failure, he decides to take a leap of faith and go with the flow, creating a new dish out of one dropped to the floor. So what does this story tell us about entrepreneurship? Quite a bit actually, because it points towards a type of behaviour needed for success. And make no mistake; this is something valid for people of all ages.

Make sure to have room in your life to grow. Who knows, you might come to benefit from that sweetness.

This article does not assert that it is too late for you to become an entrepreneur if you are over 20. Take the time to process that we have actually been talking about a mindset. You may feel experience serves you better after years of effort you put in a certain area, yet starting off from the basics and adopting the point of view of a beginner might come to serve you. Aristotle once said, “Young people are in a condition like permanent intoxication, because life is sweet and they are growing” (Aristotle.,W.D.Ross, 1999). Make sure to have room in your life to grow. Who knows, you might come to benefit from that sweetness.