People will say that you have to be this, have to be that, have to be young, have to be old, have to be rich, etc. to be an entrepreneur. Ben Casnocha started his first company at 12, thanks to a non-profit school project that inspired him to start a website. This effort was followed by a related company at 14. He’s 19 now and has a book on entrepreneurship, My Start-Up Life, which offers the wisdom he’s gained in such a short time – more so than being a biography, according to the NY Times [free subscription may be required.]
Casanocha’s company, Comcate, offers software that helps city managers log and track citizen complaints as part of the resolution process. And he’s doing just fine, thank you, and even travelling for work and vacationing for an extended duration.
[Aside: What I find strange, though it seems to be an NY Times quirk, is that they linked to Casnocha's old domain name, which is parked, and didn't bother to link to his current business' site. Do NY Times writers not "get" linking, or is there some sort of oddball hyperlink policy? Why bother linking to a dead/ parked site? Anyway, here's his company's site: Comcate.]
So why is he doing so well and others his age playing video games? What is the difference between the kids and adults who become entrepreneurs and those that do not?
Having had the good fortune to have met many thousands of people in my life, I know many who have had great ideas that would have been salable. They just didn’t bother to pursue the ideas.
When I was in my late-20s, in my second or third job in Toronto, working on contract for a very entrepreneurial guy, I came up with a list of 60 ideas, off the top of my head, that I thought could make at least a million dollars each. I tried shopping a few ideas around to a president of the architectural and consulting firm that my boss had his office set up in. The president said they were all fine, but they didn’t start projects. They waited until clients asked them, and had funds.
At the time, I also had the curse of someone who looked much younger than my 27-28 years. I had a hard time convincing anyone that any of my ideas had merit. They’d listen politely and give some polite excuse for why they couldn’t pursue them.
Did I give up? Yes I did, unfortunately, for that was my mentality then. I have always been more of an idea person than an entrepreneur. But the passion is there and I have tried my hand a few times. As a mostly introverted person, the only success I’ve had in my own business is as a web/ computer consultant or now as a blogger/ blogmaster for hire. The vindication for me, though, is that I kept that list of 60 ideas, and about a year later I did some additional intensive research. No word of a lie, but nearly every idea on my list had been implemented by someone somewhere in the world. All implemented ideas were making a profit.
So what’s my point? It’s not to show off about my ability to come up with ideas. They really are a dime a dozen. At the time, I did a great deal of meditation and I would literally come up with 10 ideas every morning. You can too.
The message really is that no matter how young/ old you are, or are treated or feel, if you have an idea, don’t slough it off because you think someone else may have done it already. You’d be surprised at how many amazingly simple ideas have not been pursued by others for that reason: ah, someone has probably done it already. Young entrepreneurs have an advantage that they’re less likely to think like this out of naivety. But us adults, we know better; we know someone has already done it, so why bother?
Without getting too metaphysical, the truth appears to be that many ideas flit around the world from brain to brain, waiting for someone to recognize their worth and implement them. So reconsider your ideas, instead of throwing them away, no matter what your age.