It seems that all of a sudden, everyone is an event promoter, photographer, graphic artist or a plain ole salesman thanks to social media. This is evidenced by how many times I, and I’m sure you, have received requests to join Bob’s, Sandra’s and Jim’s fan page or group on Facebook on a daily basis.
So annoying, yet admirable. I mean, you can’t help but appreciate and admire the efforts of people utilising their skills and talents in a positive way, while trying to better themselves. But where has this entrepreneurial spirit come from?
The culprit operates openly on a daily basis, filling young minds with ideas of making it rich, and gaining fame of unparalleled success and gratification. Who is this mystery person? Why none other than the infamous TV, and his sidekick the Internet of course. For some, these two entities can motivate, inspire and have a strong influence. Success stories of regular people, their age, making it big from utilising their skills and ideas are motivating people to come up with ideas and go after their dreams.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg did it while at college. Ever heard of Chad Hurley? He started Youtube in his late 20′s. Which web browser are you using to read this? Firefox? Blake Ross was just 19 when he and his colleague came up with the idea for the popular browser. Those are just a few of the many young, millionaire entrepreneurs whom the “Now Generation” are exposed to, and are taking notes from.
“For younger people, however, being ordinary is not an option. No one remembers ordinary”
What makes the seemingly more business oriented young person different from the less entrepreneurial savvy older generation (50 plus)? Older folks seem to be more risk-averse, mainly because of their age. The older generation came from an era where ideally you had one job for all your life and that was the norm. Not the “Now Generation”. I mean I’ve seen talented elderly persons with great skills and ideas choose not to pursue their fullest potential. For younger people, however, being ordinary is not an option. No one remembers ordinary. Ordinary can’t buy them the A6 Audi or the MTV Crib-like home, and luxurious lifestyle that they desire. This is not to say that the only reason people pursue their own enterprise is to become rich. Most are driven by passion, creativity and the joy of bringing their ideas to fruition. Whereas older folk may have stuck to the job they hate, but which gives them financial stability, younger folks are much more prone to leaving a job that makes them unhappy, and seek alternatives.
Almost all young people have a side hustle – a mini income earner that they hope one day will blossom into a full-time business that would be their own (See Managing Your Side Hustle). Increased online access to new ideas and ways of thinking about career and entrepreneurship has been a catalyst for young adults to take the plunge. Being your own boss is critical for today’s young adult. Controlling their working hours and having a direct influence on how much money they earn, and, more importantly, their life and creative freedom gives them that sense of security, pride and accomplishment that the older generation had with a steady 8 to 4 job in years past. This is despite the fact that our school systems – from primary to tertiary – and our parents still encourage the thought that getting ‘a good job’ is the benchmark of success.
“Almost all young people have a side hustle”
While the Government may extol the virtues of entrepreneurship, Trinidad and Tobago has not yet truly nurtured an entrepreneurial spirit in its citizens. This is changing though, and technology has undoubtedly played a key role in this new thrust. Whether it’s Runway Street, Jav Publishing, Elle Incorporated, Izatrini.com, The Student Press or TTFashionista, the new generation of Trini entrepreneurs have one thing in common – they’ve used technology to launch or even to house their businesses. With the increasing popularity of social media, young people now have an opportunity to be creative while selling themselves and their ideas. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have allowed people to not just reach a receptive audience, but also meet their target markets in their regular, online hangouts and engage them.
All of the entrepreneurs I’ve mentioned have several things in common – specialised knowledge of their field, passion, creativity, ambition, self-confidence, the ability to get things done, and an optimistic outlook on life. Basically they know what they’re doing. They have the skills, know-how and competencies, and are hungry for knowledge. It’s one thing to want to make money, but the task of doing so will be more enjoyable and less of a “task” if you are passionate about what you’re doing. And well if making money is your passion? That can work too.
Great entrepreneurs dream big, and do not settle for mediocrity. For them, it’s all about pushing the boundaries of human limitation and reaching their full potential. They’re confident too. This should not be mistaken for cockiness, but you have to believe in yourself, and your capabilities first before you can get someone to buy into your ideas. You’ve also got to have vision, and be able to put your ideas into action. As the saying goes, “doh stick”. It all comes down to doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done.
As more Facebook pages pop up touting new businesses, it will be interesting to see how entrepreneurial young T&T moves forward. Will we be a generation of small businesses only, or will we see tycoons forge ahead to chart a new style in business leadership? One thing is certain; the youth of today are cut from a different cloth from their parents, and will continue to be creative and innovative in their quest for entrepreneurship. Trust me I know, I am a youth entrepreneur myself.
Kenyon Champion is the President of Hybrid Entertainment.
Image credit: Istockphoto.com