A Reaction to Neil Patel’s “Why Kids Should Never Start a Business”
Young People in the Business World
Internet marketing guru Neil Patel made waves with his video Why Kids Should Never Start a Business + (Do This Instead).
He says that if he were to do it all again, he wouldn’t start a business at a young age (16 to early twenties). He wishes that he had started his career working for someone, learning from them, and seeing what mistakes to avoid instead of stumbling into them himself.
Before we talk about the validity of his argument against ‘kids’ starting businesses, let’s touch on the less controversial thing he says in the video:
He believes in the concept of ‘intrapreneurship’, the practice of entrepreneurship within a company. This is a great concept: seizing freedom within the system you’re part of, and using the knowledge and resources native to that system to build something new. It’s doubly as great if the organization actively encourages it. Google is a great example, giving employees 20% of the time to work on their own personal projects.
Intrapreneurship encourages you to tap into the minds of the people working there, to learn as much as is humanly possible from them that you can then apply to your own business in the future. In the process you create good connections – mentors, partners; funders. Patel reasons that the opportunities for success are much larger versus if you just go out on your own because you have a bigger support network – Definitely a valid point. This is very much a Knowmadic way of working.
So what we need to do is extract the wisdom from under his click-bait terminology: Saying a young person should never start a business and should instead strive to avoid all mistakes is an extreme that I cannot agree with (maybe they do actually have the necessary skills and talent [capacity to learn] to produce quality work and keep evolving).
It is, however, a great piece of advice to get started building your skill set by getting involved with companies, and then jump over to running your own company (if you feel called).
Knowmads students do this starting in the first few weeks of the program. Inspiring businesses from all over Amsterdam come to pitch projects, and students can choose to work on a project (or more likely, several!). Often these turn into employed positions within the company, or paid freelance work. (Read the full article about it here).
Patel’s point is to learn in an environment where the risks are minimized (like in a company) to build skills needed for solo entrepreneurship, and not to avoid jumping in at all. Patel supports learning by doing as the best way to build those necessary skill sets, which is the way Knowmads students glean new insights.
A Safe Environment
Neil Patel’s philosophies are thus very compatible with the Knowmadic way of thinking and working. He wants to treat the company environment as a classroom – A place for learning by doing. And it doesn’t matter if you do that as an employee in a company or by providing services as a business right off the bat (if you know enough to actually provide good value, of course!), as long as you’re getting all the good learnings inside the experience.
So do this: Treat Knowmads as this safe(r) company environment in which anything is possible. Practice intrapreneurship in your Tribe projects and in your work with other companies – and – if you feel called and are skilled enough – practice entrepreneurship. But don’t be afraid to fail.
Knowmads serves as an incubator, a lab for different resources to be mixed to produce exciting new projects, products, services, and concepts for doing things differently. The reins are in your hands and failure is applauded – It means you were brave enough to take a risk, and now are developing a way to dig yourself out of the problem, to set new goals, and to devise a new strategy towards your goals.
A salute all the young people who are motivated enough to develop themselves personally and professionally, and want to launch their own projects and businesses (or have already). Keep going (and if you want that supportive experimentation space, apply for Tribe 18).
See the video below. What resonates with you, and what doesn’t?
The writer: Emily Vierthaler started her digital marketing business at 17 before coming to Knowmads (Tribe 15 alumna). She is now a freelance copywriter at age 20.