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Entrepreneurs are problem solvers. They are people who seek to solve problems by creating innovative solutions, and crave that satisfaction found when a person knows they did something important. Entrepreneurs are really interesting people to be around because you’ll never know what to expect from them. I would also consider them as thrill seekers because generally they choose the unconventional path in life, and it can be scary, but also so thrilling. And a few months ago I would not have considered myself an entrepreneur in any way.
After a few months in an intense program that allows high school students to step outside the usual school routine, my thought process has completely been flipped 180. Thanks to this program, the IDEA Centre, I am proud to say I am part of the awesome community that is entrepreneurs. Coming into the program I knew I would have to start my own business of some kind. Naively I thought “hey that’s neat I’ll just do a bit of work, have a business, and be raking in cash.” What I didn’t know was that I knew absolutely nothing about starting a business, creating a product or service, and in general the opportunities that surround me to make a change in the world.
My first attempt at entrepreneurship was mostly great. The only thing that sucks is that I had to put that project on hold for a while, but I’ll get to that later. The first few weeks in the IDEA Centre were mostly spent thinking about what I was going to tackle as my main project. I finally settled on starting my own theatre company. I had a meeting with a mentor and an extremely helpful person ready to partner with me once the idea took flight. Another few weeks went by doing what seemed to me like planning, but really was just inaction. I wasn’t actually doing much other than writing a list of hypotheticals on a piece of paper for this idea, but it still wasn’t moving forward. Once I got myself in gear and actually took the first step, that’s where things got real… real fast. All of a sudden I was working on a rights and royalties contract to do a play, filling out loan applications and expense sheets, learning how to use graphic design software, and promoting on a new Facebook page the fact that I was starting this company. I did a lot of work in a short amount of time to get this thing started and making it a reality.
And then I had to call it quits…for a while at least.
What I stupidly chose to ignore in doing all of this preparation was the fact that I was already committed to a great number of things. I train heavily for triathlon—up to 15 hours a week—participate in the school musical, sing competitively, and like to spend time with friends on the few minutes I have off. So, unfortunately, I had to put an end to the project because I simply didn’t have the time for it without the other things I love suffering. Luckily though, it stopped mere hours away from it being announced to a very large audience. What hurt, in the end, was my pride in that I had to cut ties with my mentor and those who were supportive at that time. I will make this theatre company happen though in the coming years. And it will be so satisfying to see that dream come to life.
Lesson learned: you can do anything, but you can’t do everything.
Luckily I stopped before I burnt myself out.
What was happening during all of this work was a series of business workshops with professionals, and a couple major networking events that gave me so much more insight on the opportunities that are available not only as a young person, but as a person seeking to change the world. Before I was exposed to the real world and these incredible people I felt like there was no point in trying to make change in the world because it wouldn’t happen anyway. I thought I was just a tiny spec in this world. But after meeting these people, seeing the response to my theatre company—a company dedicated to producing meaningful entertainment, not just what will sell—and the responses to my previous blog posts, I’ve been given a whole new perspective on my life and the world surrounding me.
I know now that change is possible if you want it to happen. But you have to be willing to put your heart and soul into it. People spend so much time thinking about what they want to happen, but they don’t actually do anything. I didn’t start seeing the change I wanted until I finally stepped up, put myself out there, and put in the effort. After I did, the response was tremendous! You’d be surprised how many people are willing to support you in starting a business or building a brand. This especially works when you’re supporting a good cause.
There’s a whole other lesson in itself: if you do something, do it to benefit others as well.
One thing that I’ve really picked up on is that when you’re starting a company, no matter what it is, make sure it not only benefits you, but benefits the community at large as well. Be it a clothing company that supports child poverty. Or a theatre company making entertainment meaningful. When you do good things, good things will happen to you. This is so true and I don’t think can be said enough. It feels a whole lot better to be contributing to a cause you believe in while doing the things you love.
“It’s not about what you do. It’s about who you are while you’re doing those things.”
I’ll close with this. Whether you’re a business owner grinding your way with a startup, or you’re a 9-5er, I think everyone can learn from the entrepreneur. Because they are the ones who are doing and not watching. They are the change-makers in this world, and it’s an exciting thing to be a part of. What I’ve learned from entrepreneurship is that if you want something—no matter how old you are—go get it.
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