Sorry, Drake. Word to the wise: if I could give one piece of advice from my experience working for startups and, more recently, starting my own company, it would be the younger, the better.
I hustled from an early age, whether it was bake sales or fundraisers. I always sought to find the most creative ways to be lucrative. As I grew older, the fear of failure crept up on me, and as the responsibilities piled on, the dream of one day creating something that was solely mine dwindled.
Fresh out of college, I dove into my first job with an e-commerce startup. The CEO and founder was a strong Colombian woman with a passion for fashion and non-profits. Her passion was very intense and contagious; I soaked it all up and her passion became mine. What could possibly go wrong? I would devote my energy to turning her start-up into a successful venture, and if it failed, I would be spared the shame.
Six months later, the start-up failed to launch, and I moved on to the next one. For two years, I latched onto companies whose missions connected with me, and I devoted myself entirely to their cause. I was happy that I could be part of a movement, a family, and most importantly, the security that came from not taking the risk myself.
Start-ups involve risk, especially if you’re starting solo. Since I started my business, I’ve learned one important lesson: risk is not only monetary. As you get older, the risks you will face get bigger. I wish I had the confidence that I now have in myself and my abilities at an earlier age. There is virtually no risk for 20-somethings who want to venture into their own business when compared to the risks you'll encounter by waiting until you're older.
So you might lose a couple thousand dollars, or your business might fail. So what? You have time on your side, lesson learned--take that to the bank! Chase your passions at an early age. You don’t earn the right to be an entrepreneur by working for others; you earn the right by pushing through the chaos of your start-up and coming out triumphant.
Have an idea or a cause you’re passionate about? Don’t be a dreamer; be a doer. The younger you plant your seeds, the earlier you will be able to reap the benefits.
Join the brave ones and take that leap! It’s a scary feeling, but it’s the most rewarding one.
Andrea Hernandez is the Founder and CEO of Merienda Picnic.