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Nov 6, 2016   |   Liat Fainman
If my 13-year old self was told that my business idea, to create a tech consulting company for seniors, would become a reality, I wouldn’t have believed it.
It started out simply enough; while volunteering as a computer tutor at Baycrest Hospital & Senior’s Home in my grade eight summer, the idea, to provide this service to older adults across the Greater Toronto Area, dawned on me. Overcome with entrepreneurial excitement, I rushed home and began researching start-up opportunities. I came across Summer Company Program, which gave students aged 16 - 25 the chance to start their own business over the course of a summer; sounded perfect, except it required the submission of a business plan complete with financial projections, sales forecasts, market analytics, contingency plans, and a whole slew of other things I knew nothing about. With this in mind, I dedicated the next four years to learning the start-up process; I co-founded multiple companies through Junior Achievement’s Company Program and was hired as the business manager for a social venture the following summer.
By the time I decided to attempt my own business plan, I had already gone through the process a myriad of times, and consequently was able to complete it in less than two weeks. Soon after submitting the plan to Summer Company, I interviewed with a group of government investors and was offered a spot in the program, as well as $3,000 in funding.
The following summer was dedicated to my company, SeniorIT. Every morning, I would wake up and commute approximately five feet to get to my work (desk) and patiently take note of weekly deliverables from my boss (me). Throughout the summer, I learned how to do everything hands-on, mostly through trial and error. While at times it could be demotivating, I relished in the opportunity to be my own boss and was able to return to school in September with a strong customer base, sustainable part-time job, multiple press releases, and some extra cash.
To any aspiring young entrepreneurs, my advice is twofold: always remember that gaging customer interest is vastly different from closing a sale, and in your first few months of operation, expect to get about 1/4 of your projected earnings. Starting your own company, no matter how small, is hard; it requires resilience, adaptability, and most importantly, discipline. That being said, it gives you the opportunity to be in complete control and grow your company as large as you desire.
The experience not only gave me a relatively low-risk taste of entrepreneurship, but it also built a unique foundational skill-set for my age. I could go on about how rewarding the experience was, but I think the fact that I am not an advocate for entrepreneurship as a junior executive on the Queen’s Entrepreneurs’ Competition already speaks volumes.