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Mind Over Age: The Challenges of a Young Entrepreneur

Age is a reflection of knowledge and experience, but what happens when in a short period of time you have obtained more than the average dose of experience someone will accumulate for over half of their lifetime in just a few short years? Well, that is my story.

At age 17, freshly out of high school I was full of dreams and felt like no obstacles could come my way. I listened over and over again to be careful, to plan what I was going to do and the possibility of it being almost impossible to have a career when you are undocumented. There were more discouraging comments of that sort than motivating ones.Fortunately, my desire to succeed kept me strong. Many would say I was lucky, but I called it hard work and dedication.

As any teenager in High School, I was expected to work in the food industry, so I gave it a try, but it was just not for me. Given my lack of experience I felt I didn’t have any other choice but to give it my best. I quickly became good at my job and was “promoted” to shift manager, or as they should have called it – the only person available to stay late to clean and close the shop. I tried it, I excelled in as many areas as I could, but it was just not fulfilling for me.

I decided to take a leap of faith and I began to apply to different jobs that definitely caught my eye and I could see myself performing, but as you can imagine, they all required the experience I did not have. I asked everywhere and everyone I knew. I was so hopeful for that great opportunity, a job that would help me grow and learn, but I just couldn’t find it. It wasn’t until one day I was offered an opportunity to volunteer at a Christmas party that a well-known non-for-profit organization was throwing. I jumped in right away at the opportunity!

This became the beginning of my first “real job”, going from volunteer to an employee in this organization.

Like they say, you only need one foot in to be in. This job provided me with the opportunity to gain some of the “experience” all other places would asked for. I made myself available to help and collaborate beyond my job description, with the intention to learn as much as I could, and I did! I squeezed knowledge out of this job as much as I could.

This being my first job, I was always observing, and I noticed that there were two types of people in the work place. The DOers, always ready to go to the battle field and work hard and the COMPLAINERS, the type of workers that are never happy about life or work. I’m lucky that I have made the right choice to surround myself with mostly DOers. Your ability to learn and the attitude you put towards the situation, will always be affected by the type of people you hang out with. Like Jim Rohm once said, “You are the 5 people you spend the most time with”.

The great challenge began when communicating with older and more experienced people. As the Communication Campaign Specialist (that was my official title) I had to be out and about continuously exposing information to the community, stake holders, and local politicians.

One of my responsibilities at this position was to develop and direct a complete communication campaign to raise awareness about underage drinking. This was the moment I found my calling, finding what fuels your passion is not an easy task. Many times it ends up being something you already enjoy doing but you don’t know how to monetize it.

If you are still looking for your passion, your fuel, or your dream job, believe me, it will come to you.  Ask yourself, what is “that” something you enjoy doing? What would you do every day even if you would not get paid for it? Just ask yourself! I’m sure you already know, we all have it and it’s there just waiting for us to awaken it.

I’m not sure if this is when the idea of having a business of my own began. I remember being around seven years old and selling candy that I collected from the birthday parties I attended (really!). I would set up a little table outside my home and sell my candy to kids in my neighborhood. Business was running through my blood since my early beginnings.

Going back to where it all began, at the foundation of my business, I started doing graphic design jobs on the side as a hobby and a way to get some extra cash. Surprisingly the demand grew and my services expanded.  By 2011, being only 20 years old, I decided to quit my well paid job (for someone my age) and endeavored into the business world.

Everything was flowers and butterflies, I was excited, happy and proud to be the owner of an upcoming business. Up until this point, I had no idea what a big of a challenge I was about to face. MY AGE. How could a kid like me tell other business owners, that are much older and experienced, what to do with their business to help them grow? The huge age barrier appeared. I suffered day and night trying to understand why this was happening.

I thought maybe I was not communicating properly with my prospects. I looked at every aspect; the words I was using, the cost of the services, even my clothing. Until it hit me, it was my age. I began to notice that when I was standing next to an “adult” the attention would go to them, even when it was me asking the questions; it was as if I was not in the room.  So I decided to prove myself that age is just a number and that experience and knowledge can surpass it.

I made it my mission to let my knowledge speak louder than my age. I became an expert in my field. My knowledge on the topic of marketing, design and advertising increased significantly that people began asking for my advice. It was then when my voice was heard and my age became irrelevant.

Now when I’m asked my age it fills me with joy to say it. I'm 26 years old. A young Latina always reinventing and striving for her dreams with an social media and marketing business.

Always remember that you are capable of more than you believe. Your ability to learn and grow is beyond the imaginable. You have full control of how you portray yourself. So repeat after me. I am the expert on…. Fill out the blank. If you don’t believe it, no one will. Age is just a number, but knowledge and experience is priceless. 

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