Business

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone As A Young Entrepreneur | Opinion

When I started college, I had no intention of becoming an entrepreneur. In fact, I was adamant that I didn’t want anything to do with the business world. My family always thought I would do well on Wall Street, as I’m a naturally quantitative person, but the idea of crunching numbers for a bigwig investment bank sounded mind-numbingly boring, not to mention deeply unsatisfying. 

Then, in my junior year at the University of Michigan, I decided on somewhat of a whim to participate in "Innovation in Action", a university-sponsored competition that challenges students to come up with an entrepreneurial solution to a real-world public health problem. My team and I decided to focus on improving access to safe sex supplies, an issue each of us felt passionately about. From this seed of an idea, we came up with the concept for BusyBox, a subscription box for sexual health supplies such as condoms, lube, pregnancy tests and UTI tests, along with relevant educational materials.

After winning the competition, I was hesitant to turn BusyBox into a career because I didn’t think of myself as your typical “business person.” I thought I was underqualified, and I would often shy away from questions about myself and my company for fear that I wasn’t good enough or that my business wasn’t developed enough to be taken seriously. It took time for me to conquer this self-doubt, and in fact it’s something I still wrestle with sometimes. I have to remind myself that a core part of being a successful entrepreneur is embracing your weaknesses, your inevitable failures, and the uncertainty of starting something totally new. 

That’s what I love about this job, though; it’s always new and never boring. As the head of my company, I get to do something different virtually every day, whether it’s building a website or calling suppliers or creating a marketing strategy. There are also other perks, of course. I get to be my own boss—a pretty big brag for a twenty year-old—and my “workplace” attire is typically jeans and a sweatshirt.

The biggest drive for me, though, is the passion I have for my company and its future. We have the potential to impact thousands or even millions of people by empowering them to take control of their sexual health and happiness, while also sparking conversation on this important yet often underrepresented topic. Many aspiring young entrepreneurs spend months or even years searching for their “big idea,” but in my case it was the other way around. Having the idea for BusyBox was what ignited the entrepreneurial flame in me, and it’s what motivates me every day to continue to pursue this passion despite the fear and the uncertainty surrounding it.

To be an entrepreneur, you have to step out of your comfort zone. I am by no means a natural salesperson or public speaker, but I have learned to go for it without reservations. While I may not always succeed at first, I’m always learning and improving, and I have a strong vision for my company. Whenever I think I’m not good enough or not “business-y” enough, I remind myself that nobody was born an entrepreneur. So why not me?

Alison Elgass is a senior at the University of Michigan and the CEO and co-founder of BusyBox, LLC. 

Busybox BusyBox is a subscription box that includes sexual health supplies such as condoms, lube, pregnancy tests and UTI tests as well as educational materials. Alison Elgass

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