10 Things I Learned From A Teen Startup That You Need To Apply Into Your Life Immediately

Abigail Leu,
January 10, 2020
As many of you know, I was the president of Retter Toys which was a teen startup that ran from 2018-2019 where we sold heating and cooling panda stuffed animals. Currently, I am the president of Accesso which was created in 2019 and focuses on helping make Toronto more wheelchair accessible. Within my time as president, I have learned extensively about leadership and how to better myself and help those around me. I have implemented many of these learnings into my daily life, and I think you should too! So, here are my top 10 things I learned that you need to apply to your life for better relationships, more productive peers, and a better you!

Never be scared to ask for help. When I first started as president, I was lost and extremely confused as to what to do next, I had never run a company before nor did I know how to. For the first few weeks, I tried to figure it out myself, but that did not work. I eventually did swallow my pride and asked my advisors for advice, and it really did help! Never once did they make me feel ashamed for needing help, rather they encouraged me to always seek opportunities to learn from those who know more than you. Someone will always know better than you and learning from them is never a bad idea! 

Who you know does matter, so network. At first, I thought this is just something they would say at conferences to encourage youth to put down their phones and go network. However, I quickly realized that is not at all true! I have found that many of the best opportunities I have been offered have come from referrals from people I have met at different events or networking sessions. Even if you meet someone briefly for a few moments and you do not think this person will be able to help you at this stage of life, you have no idea where you are going to be in a few months and in which ways they may be able to help you! 

Take into account other’s personal life. This one took me a long time to realize. I would push my executives hard to ensure they completed work to the best of their capabilities. But, I forgot to take into consideration that there could be external factors influencing company member’s abilities to complete work. Once I started to ask why the work was not being completed rather than encourage them to complete it, it created a more open and honest channel of communication which ultimately led to a better work environment and professional relationship. 
Always challenge yourself. You have not grown as a leader if you have not challenged yourself. I was constantly thrown into situations where I was nervous, scared, and worried about letting down my company. However, more times than not, that was by my choosing than others. This allowed me to push myself to grow, became a better leader, and help my company succeed. One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received is challenge yourself at least once a day, and if you implement this into your life you will see the immediate and rapid success you will have both in your business and personal growth.

Challenge those around you. As much as it is important to challenge yourself, it is equally, if not more important to challenge others. Where would you be right now if other people did not challenge you? What is key is knowing how to do so in a manner that will not hinder their growth. For example, I had a member of my executive team who was very shy but wanted to become more outgoing and grow in his public speaking abilities. Rather than asking him to be apart of a team that pitched our company to over 200 people which would have terrified him, I asked him to join the sales team at a tradeshow. This allowed him to work at his own pace while also being supported and challenged by the rest of his team with him. There are so many ways for you to challenge others, but make sure it is in a way that is productive to reaching their goals.

Surround yourself with people with different experiences. As hard as it may be for you to admit, you do not know everything. As you start to challenge yourself to pursue different opportunities, it is important to be working with a diverse group of people. This is essential so that innovation and creativity never stop flowing. Furthermore, if people have different backgrounds they are able to take their unique learnings from past experiences and apply them to your current task at hand.

Organize your calendar and to-do list. If you are even half as forgetful as me, you need to write everything down! I keep a calendar and to-do list on my laptop that pops up every single time I open my laptop. This is how I am able to keep track of everything that I have going on in within the next few weeks and ensure I don’t over-commit myself. For your to-do list, you should have two different ones. One that has the list by when each of the tasks is due and one that is by which is most important. Using those two lists, you should be able to determine which tasks need to be completed more urgently. If you need any tips on how to stay organized and manage your time, feel free to reach out to me!

You can make the world a better place, so make it better. Everyone tried to tell me that I was too young or that I was only one person and that I would not be able to have a real impact on anything or anyone. They were wrong. Every single day you are being presented with the opportunity to help someone else who needs it. Take those opportunities. Think about every single person who has helped you be where you are today, you can be that person for someone else. 

Not everyone is going to have the same values, build from common ground. While I was focused on what we could do to help people, others were focused on what would be the most profitable. At the end of the day, it is important to know your values and stand by them. However, not everyone is going to share your same values and you just have to accept it. This will only hinder your progress. Rather, focus on common ground and build from there.

Do not give in to fear. Fear is our biggest enemy. Some amazing advice I got was that if you are afraid, it’s just because you are about to do something brave, this made me realize that fear is only trying to hold us back from our true potential. Do not let fear control your life, you need to be in charge of your own life. Fear has robbed me of many opportunities in the past, but it no longer does. Do not fear fear, rather seek it. Seek it because you know that every time that you overcome it you will be doing something good for yourself.