I hate having to make excuses and I hate seeing others do so too. If something is physically possible then you can achieve it if you try hard enough (you definitely can’t grow wings and fly though). I’m loving the young tech/startup/entrepreneur community and I’d like to share my opinion on why there’s negativity towards some people involved.
There’s a lot of interest in young people involved in the tech/startup scene. Some positive, some negative. One of the big problems? Too often do I hear fellow teens either claiming to be something they’re not (then moaning about not being taken seriously), or worse, complaining about how difficult it is for them to start something whilst they have school and so many other responsibilities (lol). As a fourteen year old living in the North of England I have a load of crappy excuses available. Oh you’re running an event in London? Sorry, that’s like 250 miles travel for me, can’t make it… and then there’s the fact that I’m only 14… but I never use those excuses.
Us young guys and gals are extremely awesome
Teens have done brilliant things. You only have to look at people like Nick D’Aloisio, Jamal Edwards, and Josh Buckley to see that. Even check out the GoSquared story – the team started out when they were still at school. Also worthy of a mention are all the teens that do brilliant things at Emma Mulqueeny‘s Young Rewired State every year - it’s focus is to teach young people how to code. A challenge is set over a week every summer to build digital products: mobile and web, using at least one piece of open data. (They need to find £20,000 by 7th May in order to run the event, and you can donate to the cause via peoplefund.it)
Jumping into the startup world at a young age can feel extremely intimidating.
In my case, I’m constantly with people older than myself, whether they’re my “tech friends”, customers, or partners. The automatic assumption scared teens seem to make is “they won’t take me seriously” or “they’ll think I’m wasting they’re time”. From my experience this is incorrect. I have attended two events where I was the youngest at both. I’ve met a handful of people a lot older than me, a lot cooler than me, and a lot smarter than me. People like this are intelligent enough to know they shouldn’t judge you on appearance, age, gender or anything else asides from your personality (douchebag/not douchebag) and your ideas.
There are teens who unfortunately don’t get taken seriously – but there are reasons why
This is usually because they’re claiming to be something they are not. It’s remarkable, really, to meet the CEO of a non-existent company. Or an entrepreneur who’s…hang on…not done anything? If you’re doing really cool things you don’t need to worry about labelling yourself in your Twitter bio. Actions speak so much louder than words.
There’s always enough time in the day to work on each individual part of your life
Speaking of taking action, teens are in one of the best positions to do so. Being young is the single greatest advantage I can think of. Boohoo I have to go to school, boohoo I have to have a social life, boohoo I have to do homework. Damn my life is hard. All these older entrepreneurs have to do is: feed themselves, keep a roof over their/their families head, potentially hold down a job, pay bills and more. The point is you should never allow anything to get in your way of working on a project.
More awesome women doing awesome things
Before this starts to sound like too much of a rant I’ll touch on something very positive: more awesome women doing awesome things. As a girl extremely interested in tech and startups I’ve mainly had male role models. However recently I’ve been inspired by some brilliant female entrepreneurs like Leah Busque, Deena Varshavskaya, and more. There is no where near an equal male:female ratio in tech yet so there’s a big danger of an interest being cast upon us girls not because we’re building quality products, but because we don’t have a penis. The reason I have so much respect for Leah and Deena is their focus is fully on their companies not their gender. It’s the same for younger entrepreneurs, the press can almost turn a blind eye to whether their idea is cool or not, and reward coverage based entirely on age. What’s better: an average quality product made by a 15 year old, or a great product made by a 30 year old? It’s obvious.
To wrap up, I believe the main reasons for any negativity shown towards teens are:
- Claiming to be something you’re not (honesty is the best policy in life, of course).
- Unnecessary moaning.
- Making excuses for lack of action.
Stop with the excuses
But you know what? It’s not a big deal. When I first stumbled into the startup scene (thanks, YouTube) I did pretty much all of the above. I was generally a complete ignorant, incompetent, tool of a 13 year old. I’ve learnt my lesson by surrounding myself with nice, smart, competent people. Which in turn has led to me having my own project to work on, Propelly. We’re helping people sell and share their digital work online. The best thing? Getting to work with lovely people and helping out with exciting, up and coming projects.
Stop with the excuses, meet cool people, and work on something you enjoy.