5 Lessons I Learned From Starting a Company at 19 Years Old

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I have no intention of creating my own software company. I was forced into it. You see, a few years ago, I was a full-time YouTuber. Everything was fine until my channel got demonetized. This means I make $0 from ads placed on my videos.

There was a point where I was getting 2-3 million views a month on my channel and didn’t receive a cent. As a way to rise from this low, I decided to put my life savings ($5,000) to start a creator economy software startup at 19 years old. I dropped out of college to work on my SaaS startup full-time, and learned valuable lessons along the way. Here are five of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far:

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1. Done is better than perfect

I have no coding experience – let alone creating and growing a startup. Despite these challenges, I 100% believe in my idea. Backed by a proof of concept, I was willing to do everything within my limited budget to make my SaaS idea a reality.

With a well-written vision and a lot of persistence, I found a good developer overseas who not only fit my budget but believed in my vision for Trend Watchers.

We still work together to this day. The first versions of Trend Watchers were terrible, but over time, the UI/UX slowly improved. If I had looked at my journey from a software development point of view, I would not have done it. I have gone through many failures and obstacles. I should have quit back at the starting line, but by having a great vision and a team mixed with the desire to succeed, we managed to get through.

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No matter how challenging a task is, finished is always better than perfect. Often, perfection comes through the countless mistakes you make along the way.

2. The importance of data collection

One thing I implemented early on was good data collection. What do I mean by data collection? Data collection has a bad rep, thanks to big companies and scammers who abuse it to make a quick buck. But there is a good side to data collection. Data collection can be used to make better marketing decisions. It can also be used to find out what users like and don’t like.

I collect data in a few ways, but two of the most useful data collection tactics I use are asking good questions during our signup sequence and having a recording software. of the session that tracks how long users spend on each page and what they click on. These two methods of data collection help to make the right decisions and update the software to improve the user experience.

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3. Get a proof of concept before you build

For the folks behind, I’ll repeat myself: Get a proof of concept before you build. In early 2022, I thought it would be a good idea to build a market within Trend Watchers. Marketplaces are great, and if used correctly they can be a great growth engine for startups – but nobody likes that. They just want trends that they can use to go viral online.

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Instead of listening to this market feedback, I went ahead and built it anyway, and it was a huge failure. It also caused a lot of other issues, but I was wasting a lot of time and money on something that my users didn’t want at the time. Because of that experience, I always conduct surveys and get proof of concept before I add a new feature.

4. Tell your story

Starting a software company at the age of 19 with my own money was already financially difficult. The next question is, how can I market this item with a $0 marketing budget?

Growing up, I was always an amazing storyteller. In my free time after school, I often write my own books. I go into our home office, grab a few sheets of paper from the printer, fold them in half, staple them, and boom — I have a book.

I decided to use this skill I developed at a young age to slowly build a movement of loyal followers that would help me gain traction for Trend Watchers. The two platforms I decided to focus on documenting my progress are Instagram and leveraging press. It was not an overnight success. It took tons of writing, documentation and pitching to slowly get my brand story heard, and now it’s starting to pay off.

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An interesting insight I recently discovered about my paying customers is that they tend to stay longer knowing their money is being put to work. Many of my paying customers follow my story through my email list or Instagram page for weekly updates.

If you’re working on growing your startup, document your journey. Not only will you have a well-written journal at the end, but you may also find loyal customers along the way.

5. Take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself

Some of the best decisions I’ve made were time-sensitive opportunities that came my way. Some of these opportunities include opportunities to purchase programs, go to different places and break up my schedule to attend certain events. About 90% of these opportunities come out of nowhere, and every time I take one, it greatly helps me in the process of developing my business.

Related: 6 Tips for Building a Successful, Scalable Software Company

As many know, starting and growing a business is not easy, especially for a young adult with no experience. Reading books and watching YouTube videos can be helpful and informative, but experience is truly the best teacher. The skills and lessons I gained through my experience helped me grow stronger, and hopefully, these five lessons above will help other entrepreneurs – young or old – grow their businesses as well.

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