Successful Entrepreneurs Are Trendsetters, Not Followers

Teens are natural trendsetters. Young people are almost always the first to try new social media platforms, fashion trends, and slang. You’re creative, optimistic, and unafraid to jump in. This is good because trendsetting is a quality that can help you succeed as a young entrepreneur!


The answer is in the name. Trend. Setter. Not follower. Anyone can follow a trend. Little kids, parents, and even senior citizens follow trends. (Maybe not all seniors.) We’re certain you and your friends have spotted trends you like and follow.

But where do those trends come from? Someone came up with them. And, in the case of your chosen entrepreneurial field, that someone should be you.

Entrepreneurship is all about solving problems in new and creative ways. Entrepreneurs are innovators. Instead of using the same old solutions to solve the same old problems, entrepreneurs find new and creative ways of doing things. Trendsetters saw the Blackberrys and cell phones of the early 2000s and combined them to make smartphones. Trendsetters saw the decline of cash being used in schools for things like lunches and field trips and invented apps such as MySchoolBucks and My MealTime.

When you’re a trendsetting young entrepreneur, you help set the standard for what’s to come. You’re the one who decides how things will be from now on. You’re the standard by which everyone else will be measured from now on. Don’t just reinvent the wheel. Invent a whole new way to get around.


Another way to look at trendsetting is to think of it as pioneering. And being the first to try anything can be scary. Yes, you might fall flat on your face. Yes, others might not follow your lead. And yes, you might be wrong. But that’s the difference between a successful entrepreneur and a quitter. Many, many, many major businesses and brands have had flops now and then. (Google “Crystal Pepsi.”) So, the first thing you need to learn as a trendsetter is that not all your ideas will be good ones.

Got that out of the way? Good. Moving on.

Once you find that winning idea, though… That’s where true entrepreneurship is born.


One thing trendsetters have in common is that they find gaps in the everyday. For example, jewelry-making is a popular craft because it’s fairly easy to learn, doesn’t require a major financial investment, and can be sold both in person and online. The problem is: it’s popular. If anyone can do it, that makes it a tough industry for carving your niche and setting a trend. That’s why you need to find the gap. What are other jewelry makers missing? Is it a style? Market? Maybe you can make fandom-themed jewelry. Or gender-neutral jewelry!


Like seasons, trends often follow cycles. Just look at what you’re wearing right now: is your outfit inspired by the 1990s?


Following trends will teach you how to predict their life cycle. You’ll learn how trends in, say, fashion flow with a culture’s mood. The hippies of the 60s and 70s were all about that laid-back lifestyle, focusing on peace, music, and breaking the uptight culture of the 1950s. Their clothes reflected this, with long hair on men (gasp!), bright colors, and flowery prints. Then the more conservative 80s came along, and all those hippies swapped bell-bottom jeans and macrame vests for power suits and shoulder pads.

Keep an eye on what’s going on in the world around you. How are people reacting to the news? What is everyone talking about? How are the people around you feeling? Once you know this – also known as the cultural zeitgeist – you’ll be able to predict what people will want.


Sticking with fashion, there’s no need to show up to school wearing a literal trash bag around your body and underwear as a hat. (Please don’t do that.) We’re confident that no one will follow that trend. Few people want to jump on board with something so extreme. There’s a difference between setting a trend versus begging for attention.

Your attempts at starting trends should be simple and appropriate (especially at school). They should get you noticed in a positive way. In other words, trendsetting inspires people. Your peers should look at you and think, “I wish I’d thought of that!” Others should want to follow your lead and do what you do.

When creating a new trend, ask yourself whether you’re doing this just to get attention. If all you want is for people to look at you, that’s not setting a trend. Trendsetting means you have an idea that you believe in so much, you want others to follow your lead. Make a statement, sure. Just don’t bang people over the head with it.


A lot of teens can babysit to earn extra money. How do you set yourself apart as a trendsetting babysitter? Think about what parents want. They want someone who will take good care of their children and keep them happy, safe, and entertained. What else can you offer that a parent would like? You might:

  • Be fluent in French and offer to teach it to the kids you sit
  • Be certified in CPR and First Aid
  • Be willing to walk the family dog or feed the cat

After a few jobs in which you go above and beyond merely “babysitting,” suddenly your friends are all taking CPR training and offering to teach Spanish. You’ve set a trend!

Ultimately, becoming a trendsetter isn’t going to happen overnight. And your first few attempts might go the way of Crystal Pepsi. But the best way to become a trendsetter is by paying attention, practicing self-confidence, and finding ways to do things that make people say, “Now that’s clever!” As a trendsetting young entrepreneur, you’ll have a world of opportunities at your door before your first day of college!

Florida’s young entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply for a Kantner Foundation college scholarship. Learn more by clicking here!

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