E-Commerce · Entrepreneurship

Any advice for an ambitious teenager?

Vova Step Aspiring Entrepreneur

February 2nd, 2018

I am currently 16 years old, still in high school. I've always been fascinated by business and entrepreneurship, and have been trying to make things work in this industry for over a year now, though it is difficult with minimal funding and knowledge. I am currently working on a digital marketing agency with 2 partners, as well as soon going to explore e-commerce. Question is, what would be your best advise for me to gain connections, skills as well as to maximize my chances of having a successful business :) Thanks!

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

February 2nd, 2018

When someone like me hires an agency, and I've hired many, there are a few of things that I look for, and I'll explain them in non-marketing-speak. I want an agency that has specific knowledge of my industry and business. This means I don't need to teach them what it is that my company does or who my customers are. I also want the agency to have a portfolio of work they've already completed that includes examples that fit the style of my current communications or at least talks to the audience I am pursuing. The portfolio must also show broad talent in areas other than my own, and some of the ads must be interesting enough that I would take notice as a consumer. Next I am looking for depth of experience, this means how many years the company has been practicing their craft. The company must be able to tell me what to expect from their efforts in a credible prediction, as well as offer specific reasons that they are a fit for my business, not just assure me that they can do the task requested. I need to be able to call their references on the phone and talk about what it is like to work with them, how they kept to schedule and budget, and whether expectations were met.

Your biggest challenge to start is that at 16, you lack the background companies like mine will be looking for. We've all become very cynical about digital marketing and have a very high standard for proof before we'll hire an agency. Digital marketing was hot before you were a teenager, and a lot of people got burned hiring folks who made big promises. Although the agencies hired had staff that grew up thinking digital first, they lacked experience in marketing fundamentals and tried to make the job look easy, were unable to set expectations with any accuracy, and wasted a lot of small and large companies' money with lackluster results.

Companies have learned that digital marketing requires buy-in from the top level, meaning that if the executives are not using Facebook and other platforms personally or involved in the daily interactions through the company's social media channels, you won't ever have a win with social media promotion. If the execs are skeptical of digital marketing efforts in general (non-social media advertising), they're setting an agency up to fail because it's never going to get the support it needs to succeed. Initially digital marketing sounds like a great idea because it costs less per ad. When the execs think this also means it costs less to prepare and support the campaign that has a lower ad purchase cost, they're mistaken, and the campaign will fail.

So, my warning is that if you want to have a successful digital marketing agency, you need to add people to your company that will dramatically increase your credibility, even though at 16 you have insufficient experience yourself. When hiring any agency, a company will always want to meet with the owner, so you can't hide your age. The reason is that every agency takes direction from its owner. The companies that hire you without checking all the things I listed above are gambling that they'll get something cheaply that might work. They'll hate you if it doesn't and they'll love you if it does work.

Yes, you do need to take those clients initially because you need to build a portfolio of successes, but don't expect to please most of them. In fact, expect more hassles than they're probably worth, because they don't understand what you do and aren't willing to become educated in marketing, if they aren't already evaluating your company on the things I listed above.

Nowadays everyone says they do digital marketing. The claim itself is not very credible, because results have been poor.

My suggestion is to find a very specific niche and really become expert at it. For example, become an expert at LinkedIn digital advertising for companies looking to hire new employees, or for companies looking to win new B2B clients. Don't be the agency that does Facebook ads and banner ads in SEO that everyone else is already doing.

Hope that's helpful. Keep your enthusiasm!

David El'Kima A business master mind with the Aim of monopolizing Africa

February 5th, 2018

  • I'm 17, and an aspiring entrepreneur, we could be partners, wanna share ideas???

Heather Wetzler

February 8th, 2018

These videos may help you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIFsDJLPqFg

Pankaj Agarwal Co-Founder Triotech Solutions

February 3rd, 2018

Dear Vova, This is very exciting see the young (15 yrs) going through this phase of self realisation and actualisation. Few suggestions/comments:- - You have nothing to loose and hence give it some more time before declaring that you and not getting success. - Forget about funding. You want to build a business not become a bait. You build the business, funding will come. - To gain connection, cold calling and email marketing are the tools that increase your target audience. - To gain confidence, gain couple of friendly customers for whom you can do the work for a huge discount and they become your torch bearer. Their success story would be your testimonial to go after the others. Hope this helps. Cheers!! Pankaj Agarwal +91-9810322479 Brand of Treta Agro (P) Ltd. a DIPP recognized Startup India Company Read about us : https://yourstory.com/2017/11/just-organik-delhi-based-startup/ www.JustOrganik.com : +91-8800798585 : info@justorganik.com

Naiem Yeganeh

February 6th, 2018

I wish I was 16 or I knew what I know when I was 16!

Be strong in tech. Work very hard on your dream. If you constantly try to do your best and learn from it and change your trajectory you will know what to do better than any one else.

Also listen to startup podcasts and stay constantly motivated.

Marie Schwartz

February 2nd, 2018

Go and work for a start up in the industry of your passions. Make mistakes with someone else’s money!


February 3rd, 2018

It would be better to complete your studies first and then get involved into a startup. In the (unfortunately not so) unlikely event of a startup failing, with a diploma/degree you will have greater chances of getting a job afterwards.

Ei 李 Are you interested in education + entertainment adventure?

February 4th, 2018

Hello Vova! 16 is a great time for ambitious young man. Your youth is your advantage. Definitely gets attention. I would not focus on your age, but what you can offer. Talent and hard work is not age dependent. I also started very young doing business even at 14. Making connections is about practice, trust and delivering something of good quality, at any age.

People like to have good reliable honest service. If you can deliver that, they do not care what age you are. Really? Go for it. Let the work do the talking. Start small. Try, try try. Do some projects, even for free to build up your biography and ask for advice from mentors or people around you.

There is discrimination towards young people for doing business, especially for taking on more difficult projects. People used to laugh at my suggestions although I was more than capable. It did not deter me and I continued my business (was in design consulting).

Success will come, stay positive. Do not give up. Enjoy!

Wally Barr Business Owner at Undrnu Management

February 4th, 2018

Discover and solve a problem. Your advantage is your age. There are problems your age group has that most businesses do not realize or recognize. What bothers the average 16 year old? I think a 16 year old is the best resource for that.

Abduljabbar Zia Usman CEO, project manager, explorer

February 5th, 2018

you have made the right choice to be an entrepreneur, yeah willing to share to ideas, you just need to belong to the right crowd, you want to be a doctor, you study medicine, you want to be an entrepreneur, you study entrepreneurship, its good you started early, actually entrepreneurship is more difficult then medicine.