Will it be worth it?

I’m 16, and a programmer. I want to be an entrepreneur when I grow up. A succesfull entrepreneur and I’m willing to risk my entire life for it. Will it be worth it? Can I succeed?

  • If you get serious about this now and are willing to work hard, your odds of success are very high. You shouldn’t risk your life though, or even risk much at all.

    The things you hear about entrepreneurs being risk-takers is just marketing. Entrepreneurs talk about risk because it makes them seem more heroic. Facing impossible odds and succeeding regardless. The media wants to tell this lie became it makes for a good story, the entrepreneur likes it because it’s flattering, and the public wants it badly to be true.

    You should start working on projects that have the potential to become the foundation for a successful business some time down the road. Don’t worry about business itself or making money, just create some software (web app, iphone, android, whatever) that people really love to use. Then figure out how to grow your user base. Work hard on this and you’ll be in a great position to incorporate and make money when you’re 22 or so.

    • Your odds of success are actually incredibly small. Don’t believe the hype or exception based success reporting on the topic. It doesn’t mean don’t do it, but if you are doing it to be a startup millionaire, you should do something else. First, I think it’s important to differentiate between entrepreneurs and inventors. They can be the same thing but it’s rare. Entrepreneurs execute and take products to market. Inventors invent. Which are you? Can you make a career coding? Sure. Are you going to start a company and get rich coding. You might, but I wouldn’t take it to the bank. Statistically, very low chance. To be honest, if I had my time again (11 years into a startup and still pre-revenue … but shipping next year finally IF THINGS GO TO PLAN … oh God), and I knew what I know now, I’d never have gone down this road. But, I am too far in to get out until it either dies or flies. That’s the truth. Understand the risks fully. In the end, is the stress of handling other people’s (investor) funds and constant ‘failure’ relative to ‘plans’ is crushing. It’s not that you don’t have good days; you do. But the bad days are worse bad days than you get in a ‘normal’ job. In reality, it’s only if you win that it’s a financially good decision. Winning means an exit if you are working for less than your full pay. In my case, lost wages (working for less than I can earn elsewhere) and working for nothing and investing cash mean an reasonable exit is the only way for me to even be square. The reality is it’s not how hard you work. It’s not even how smart you are. It’s a combination of factors and unfortunately one of them is luck. Otherwise you wouldn’t see so many smart, hard-working people with good products FAIL. You learn a lot as you are doing it that you wouldn’t do if you did it again. I won’t be doing it again. One other thing … do it while you are single. It’s very tough on a relationship. Cheers

      • Agree with this comment wholeheartedly. Just understand what you’re getting into. The bad days are far worse than any bad day you’ll have working at some 9-5 gig slinging code. If you end up thinking you can go solo then realize you are going to need to be an accountant, director of marketing, engineering, devops, technical support, product owner, director of investor relations, etc… There’s no one to fallback on when things go awry. Don’t think that getting a partner is an easy solution. In my experience (I’ve gone solo and with co-founders) partners are like spouses. It is EXCEEDINGLY difficult to find a good spouse. If you do then cherish them forever because you’re not likely to find another. If you happen into a relationship with a bad one — well, good luck. It never ends well.

      • Couldn’t agree more. All people generally see are the successful stories. If we are being honest, even those highly public successes are not as successful as they are marketed.

        I have worked with tons of companies (I own a startup software development firm) who have raised 10s of millions of dollars and celebrate each of those rounds of funding. We then build them software and while we “build the product right”, we have no opinion on if we are building the “right product.” See Peter Drucker.

        In the end, many of those same “companies” never became profitable because the wrong product (or even the right one that can’t be marketed or sold effectively) drains all their money.

        Consider all this before becoming a founder/CEO because your typical startup CEO is probably making under $120k annually with dwindling market share on each round of funding.

        My advice is age old (like me). Go with what you know and get good at it speaking to all parts of your value and why it’s different. Try to make money on a small scale. Build from the bottom up, because honestly, if someone gave you $10MM, would you know what to do with it anyway?

  • Ease into the lifestyle. If I was 16 the first thing I would do is jump into someone elses startup in a limited role (very junior programmer for example.) Learn from their mistakes, while you develop your product ideas, make sure to recognize why they are winning or losing and take mental (or written) notes. Pick up the subtleties of success and keep track of the decisions that led to failure. Treat that time as an informal education that can’t be learned from anything but experience. In the end these experiences will help you determine if that is the life you want to lead, and help you avoid the pitfalls that can only be learned first hand. Most importantly, break stuff, fix it, keep your head up, and don’t give up until you are out of gas. Then rinse and repeat.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    You may also like