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Learning by doing

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Felix, I really admire your enterprising instincts and ambition to expand your business. Running this startup will allow you to learn a lot about entrepreneurship, and with limited financial risk.


You’ve made some great choices so far. Your business does not involve growing or manufacturing a product, and the only office you need is likely your room at home. Through eBay you can distribute your goods to markets far and wide, reaching customers instantly and without a marketing budget. These are all tremendous pluses for any business, and especially for a young person without much access to funds.


Given the fact that you’re considering expansion, it sounds like your enterprise is doing well, which brings me to your question about homework: I left school at 16 to run Student magazine, because I felt that I could not do well at both. Also, my dyslexia made schoolwork quite frustrating, and I wanted to focus on something I could do well. On the other hand, many people who become successful entrepreneurs complete high school and obtain university degrees.


When you and your family are discussing your options, remember that learning the ins and outs of running a business will be helpful to you throughout your career. I was around your age when I started up two ventures with a friend: growing and selling Christmas trees and then breeding and selling parakeets. They both failed. We hadn’t realised that we had to protect our saplings from rabbits, which feasted on our tiny forest, and keeping large numbers of birds proved to be much more difficult and noisy than we had expected. This taught me to assess the risks associated with a business and to make sure that I had the resources and manpower to keep a venture going— lessons that I have applied throughout my career.


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