Over the past year, I’ve been lucky enough to see my business, MentalMusic, grow from a lowly English project to a full-blown startup. This experience has taught me a lot about what it’s like to be so young in the entrepreneurial space.
My business, MentalMusic, is a music-based podcast created for teens by teens focusing on teenage mental health issues. What we do is take young people’s songs and stories, and combine them with expert advice to create a 20-30min weekly podcast.
At MentalMusic, we believe in a world where mental health can be talked about openly and freely, without any fear of misunderstanding or stigma. If that sounds like something you’re into, you can follow us on social media, or listen to our episodes here.
Since starting my own venture I’ve learnt quite a few things about being an entrepreneur, particularly a teenage entrepreneur. So here are my top 4 tips, based on my learnings, for someone looking to start their own project. Whether you’re a high-school student embarking on your own entrepreneurial adventure or not, these are some lessons that I think can be applied by young people in whatever they do.
1. Use your age to your advantage
One of my favourite things in my experience has been surprising people with my age. The awkward hellos, the “are you supposed to be here?” stares, and the “Oh, YOU’RE Jordan” when meeting with people for the first time outside of email. But after the first meeting, people seem to adapt very quickly, and are even excited to work with such a young entrepreneur.
Because of my age, I have been offered a lot of privileges and opportunities that I may not have gotten if I were older. A lot of people are excited to work with young entrepreneurs, and will do whatever they can to help you overcome challenges.
2. Age can make things difficult
Having said this, because I’m still a minor I’m limited by the law. For example, I can’t register for an ABN, get (most) grants, or open a business bank account. I also can’t just jump in my car and get to that meeting at 1pm. I have to go to school for most of the day, when everyone is usually working. However, there’s always ways around the issues. Things like using crowdfunding instead of applying for grants, or working on the weekends instead of during the week.
The point is, there’s always a way around things, you just have to remain persistent and think outside the box.
3. School + Business = Life
When I first started this business venture, I did have fair warning from quite a few people that I may have bitten off more than I could chew. Being the naïve teen I was (and still am, in many respects). I thought, “Well it can’t be THAT hard, can it?”. Yes Jordan, yes it can be.
I already have 30 hours of my week taken up by school. Then try adding on managing a team of 6 people, making sure they’re maintaining the website, writing episodes, booking guests, keeping their social media platforms active, and producing a fortnightly podcast… It’s a lot of work. I basically do nothing else besides the two.
That’s why I think it’s important to start a business you truly enjoy being involved in. I’ve found that as long as I enjoy what I do, the work doesn’t seem that much, or that difficult, because I’m having fun.
4. Build your Network
One of the most CRUCIAL things I have learnt through this journey is to build a network of people around you. This is massively important, because they can help you do the things that you can’t do alone. For example, when I first started with MentalMusic, I had no idea which microphone, computer programs, and whatever else we needed to use. However, I was able to ask my friend Joah, who I ended up placing in my team.
Because of my team, and my network, I was able to access new opportunities and achieve things that I wouldn’t have been able to do if I were on my own.
This past year has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs but in the end, I’ve found you’re never too young to make a difference.
Looking after your mental health is mega important. If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues there are free services you can access. Headspace is a free service for young people — visit Headspace here. You can also access Lifeline 24/7 for crisis support and suicide prevention — 13 11 14.