A Letter to my 18 Year Old Nephew: How To Be An Entrepreneur


What is that one thing that you do that is uniquely you?  What is that thing that you are known for in your group of friends?  What is the thing that you think about when you are alone?

You don't need to do everything.  You don't even need to do 2 things.  Find that one thing and do something with it.  It might work out.  It might not.  If it doesn't work out, do something else.  Same thing, different approach.  The thing about being young is that you have plenty of time to find that thing.  Let me use myself as an example.  

When I was a teen, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  I had no direction.  I liked science.  I loved writing.  I enjoyed debate and extemp speaking, more for the research part than the speaking part.  I was good at computer programming (C++ in those days).  The thing I wanted to do most with my life was to become a doctor and open a free clinic.  I just wanted to help people.  That is really what I, as a person, come down to...a nerdish girl who wants to help.  One thing that was a side detail that I never really thought about before recently is that I have been immersed in online communities since before it was safe. I had a few geocities sites for various online personas.  I was in yahoo chat rooms in the wild west of the internet.  I was on AIM with strangers while on dialup.  I played World of Warcraft for 10 years for the social aspect more than the elite gamer status.  I loved Myspace.  My husband actually proposed to me on Facebook!  So, how do you tie a girl who loves online life, computers, research, writing, and helping people into a nice neat little package?  BuzzHustle!  It hit me like a ton of bricks that I had found my happy place when I started my business.  I work ridiculously hard and love every minute of it!  


Advice 1: Don’t let people tell you what you should do.  

Parents, teachers, Grown-ups at the grocery store…upon graduation from high school and college, everyone will have advice for you.  

Listen to the advice that rings true in your heart.

  • Start a savings account NOW
  • Invest at the first opportunity
  • Always be looking for passive income opportunities
  • Never choose a roommate based on how much fun they are
  • NEVER put anything on the internet that you wouldn't show your grandma!

Let the advice that limits your options for the future fall along the wayside.

  • What can you do with that degree?  There is no money in XYZ.
  • Is that even a real job?  You need a REAL job!
  • You are really good at X (the thing that you are good at but secretly makes you want to claw your eyes out), you can make so much money doing that.
  • Everyone hates their job.  It is part of being an adult.


Advice 2: Don't let your own limitations tell you what you cannot do.  

I don’t know about you but I find that I am my worst critic.  Don’t be like me.  I want you to know you who are and own it.  Give every crazy idea in your head room to breathe.  Write it down.  Address what problem it solves and for whom.  Think about how you can bootstrap it or crowdsource it.  If you find that it is a shortsighted endeavor, save it for later.  Who knows, in a year or two, it may an amazing idea!  If it seems like it just might work, share it with your parents.  Share it with your friends.  Share it with a few trusted people who will ask probing questions.  Then, go for it!  The worst that can happen is your fail forward and learn a ton through the experiences.   


Advice 3: Don't try to do everything.

Limiting yourself from doing everything is just as important as doing something.  If you try to do it all, you will stretch yourself thin and never accomplish anything.  FOCUS!  If you want to be a doctor, you don’t graduate medical school with ‘Doctor’ on your degree.  You specialize and then specialize again (think Doctor --> Neurologist --> Behavioral Neurologist,  Neurophysiologist,  Geriatric Neurologist, or Neuro-oncologist)  It is the same with anything you do.  The more specialized you are in your chosen profession, the more certain people will be that they need what you offer.  It can start as simple as selling apple jam.  Advertise your jam.  People will ask if you carry anything else, you say ‘No, I have apple jam’.  9 times out of 10, they will try at least one jar.  If you have 15 flavors of jam, they will think about what they want and walk away thinking and never walk back.  Once you are established as the Apple Jam guy, you add strawberry.  All your apple buyers will want to try your new flavor because you have build trust with them.  It works with anything.  Just start small.  


Do Something.  Not Everything.  Listen to your Heart.  I Believe In You!



Sarah Selvarengaraju