What was the deciding factor in you choosing entrepreneurship as your path to success?
I love that I can pursue entrepreneurship as a 17-year-old. With its endless freedom, I know my only limits are the ones I place on myself. The possibility of creating something entirely new that the world has never seen before makes me jump out of bed every morning.
As an entrepreneur, you can never “max out.” There are certain jobs where you reach the top, and there’s nowhere left to go — you’ve made it. As the leader of your own company, you can continuously grow and improve in some cases, even pioneering a new product or industry.
One of my greatest fears is living a boring life. I have never wanted to work a 9-to-5 desk job. With the infinite opportunities it presents, entrepreneurship ensures that I don’t do the same thing twice and allows me to try something new every day, every hour even!
Since I was a little girl, I wanted to be an entrepreneur, even before I knew everything it entailed or how to spell it. I watched my father create new products and companies my entire life. No matter what it was, he was always doing something new. Especially given my fear of a boring life, I knew this was the path for me, and that I was going to start my own company one day.
But that’s the catch — I was always telling myself I would do it “one day.” Despite my growing laundry list of ideas of various products and services that I was positive the world needed, among them a singing vacuum cleaner and color-changing sunscreen, I found myself waiting until I was “old enough” or when I became an adult and “real life” started. Although I was excited to act on any one of my ideas, I had no clue where to start, and the whole process seemed unrealistic as a teenager.
If I felt this way, other girls must, too, right?
I finally sat myself down and realized nothing was holding me back except me. I started SWEET to help girls understand what’s possible and what they are capable of, no matter their age.
What was your parent’s reaction when you told them about your plans to become an entrepreneur?
Excited! My father is an entrepreneur, and my mother has supported his companies (no matter what stage they’re in) their entire life together. Naturally, my mother extended that support to me while my father was happy that I was following my dreams.
My parents assure me they will be proud of me no matter what I decide to do. Still, I think they are especially glad that I chose a path less traveled and one with so many risks and uncertainties because they always encourage me to challenge myself and try new things.
Talk about your company SWEET (Successful Women Entrepreneurs Everywhere Today)?
My vision for SWEET is to create a younger generation of entrepreneurial girls. SWEET’s Mission is to inspire and help girls start their own companies.
The values of the company include kindness, trying new things, and never giving up. Some of SWEET’s principles are; following through on commitments, listening generously, and having fun!
SWEET (Successful Women Entrepreneurs Everywhere Today) is a platform to inspire teenage girls to start their own businesses. The target audience is 13 to 16-year-olds, but the platform is open to all ages because a girl can never be too young!
I interview successful women entrepreneurs to share their stories, experiences, and advice with the younger girls. To date, I’ve interviewed about 25 women, and I’m talking with more every week. They come from various industries, backgrounds, and ages — some are even teenage entrepreneurs themselves!
I post these interviews on SWEET’s website (www.sweetentrepreneurs.com) and Instagram (@IsabelHoppmann).
I also do themed days, including Tuesday Tips (a piece of advice from one of the women I interviewed), Thursday Thoughts (a short video of me detailing a business lesson I learned that week), and Funny Friday (this is my favorite — I ask all of the women to share a funny story from their career!).
Another section of the website called “How to Start” provides resources on various topics, from marketing to blogging. Also included are recommended books, blogs, movies, podcasts, and more to give young girls who’re ready to start companies the concrete knowledge they need to get their businesses off the ground and running!
How do you find a balance between entrepreneurship and school, especially with us being in a pandemic?
Since Zoom has become the new norm, I’ve been able to interview women from all over the country and have it be completely natural.
I use free time during the day to work on SWEET and, if I’m lucky, fit in an interview during my lunch break!
Compartmentalizing school and SWEET has been my most valuable strategy for maximizing performance and production in both areas. Although it can be tempting to check my SWEET email or daydream about my Thursday Thoughts for that week while listening to a long biology lecture, I know I can accomplish more if I only focus on one at a time.
Balancing the two has certainly been an adjustment, but it also gives me some perspective. For example, some parts of SWEET are harder for me than others but compared to reading 50 pages of an English book, any aspect of SWEET starts looking pretty good. SWEET work has become my “reward” for finishing my schoolwork. There is never a dull moment — just how I like it!
How important is it for you to continue to inspire other young women to pursue entrepreneurship?
Inspiring other young women to follow their entrepreneurial dreams isn’t just important; it’s crucial to achieve my vision for SWEET to create a younger generation of entrepreneurial girls.
As many women I’ve interviewed have validated, “We — young people — are the future.” From overcoming the gender gap in the entrepreneurial space to creating the next great company, we have the power to make the world what we want it to be.
Hearing the stories of the women I’ve interviewed, I see the immediate impact they’ve created with the results of their companies. What if Debbi Fields — the founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies — didn’t follow through on her idea and the world was living without her delicious treats?
In every interview, I ask the women what they would say to a younger girl who wants to start a company but feels too young or too inexperienced. Without fail, every single woman has said some form of “you’re not too young! You can never be too young!” Their enthusiasm says it all. If over twenty women who have built successful companies believe in the power of teenage girls, we better start believing in ourselves too!
One of the most empowering pieces of advice I’ve heard throughout all of the interviews (and sometimes more than once in any given interview) is to “just go for it!” Although simple, I hope every girl who watches the interviews and hears that encouragement over and over again takes it to heart. Some girls might have the knowledge, skills, and everything to start a company right now, but they lack the inspiration to go for it. I want to fill this confidence gap through SWEET because no business can start without an initial leap of faith. No one knows what they’re missing until they try, so go for it!
Instilling confidence from a younger age will allow more females to break the glass ceiling and shift the current paradigm. By the time they’re adults, these girls will be more than ready and competent to tackle challenges and enact real change with the companies they create.
If I can inspire 100 girls, and they can each inspire even three more, we have ignited a flame for 300 girls who can go on to inspire thousands more. At this rate, soon we will be living in a world full of confident girls ready to take the entrepreneurial world by storm!
To learn more about Isabel Hoppmann and SWEET, CLICK HERE.