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Why you don't need knowledge or experience to get started

by Gelaine Santiago November 01, 2016 1 Comment

Why you don't need knowledge or experience to get started

Many people think they need to be experts before they can start a business or project.

They have great ideas that they want to bring to life, but there’s always that inner voice holding them back. 

“You don’t have enough experience.”

“You know nothing about this topic.”

“Why would anyone listen to you?” 

The negative voices whisper and yell on top of each other. So the person attempts to bridge their gaps in knowledge by spending hours reading articles, researching forums, and listening to all the experts. But then they become so overwhelmed with everything that they never start anything. Sound familiar?

Case in point: I met someone just a few weeks ago who was struggling with all of this.

Entrepreneurs For Social Change Meetup - October 2016

We met at the Entrepreneurs For Social Change Meetup, a monthly event that Cambio Market organizes. The group’s purpose is to bring together current and aspiring entrepreneurs who are passionate about business to drive social change.

The man I met was a former accountant at PwC. He quit his job, travelled to Tanzania, and ended up working with several micro entrepreneurs there. For the last few months, he’d been tossing around the idea of starting a business selling raw Tanzanian honey sourced from small farmers. 

“But I don’t know anything about honey or importing,” he lamented.  “It would be a huge challenge to learn how to import all that honey, plus the food and drug requirements behind it.”

It wasn’t the first time I met someone who felt that way. It’s a common issue many people have. They feel stuck. They’re passionate about an idea but they’re afraid of not knowing enough or having adequate experience.

So what is one to do? Enter Jazzmine Lawton-Raine, our guest speaker that night.

Jazzmine Lawton Raine

Jazzmine started her own non-profit, and has worked for various NGO’s and ethical businesses. She’s been all around the world, blogging about sustainable travel. Now, she’s Executive Director for Studio 89, a  fair trade and non-profit café that raises funds for youth programming in Mississauga. All this, and she’s not even 25 years old.

When Jazzmine started her non-profit The Raine Network (originally Raine For Water), she was only sixteen. She started the organization out of a desire to address water issues because it was really important to her.

She admitted to our meetup group, while sitting at the front, her eyes ablaze with excitement, that she had no idea what she was doing. She didn’t know anything about water issues and was in no way qualified to be doing this.

“How did you overcome that lack of knowledge and just move forward?”  Someone in the audience asked.

“I was a leech,” Jazzmine said. “I found people in the industry who were doing interesting things, and I leeched onto them. I met with everyone who would meet with me, asked lots of questions, and was endlessly curious.”

Then she added, “And Google became my best friend.”

Learn where your passions take you

Jazzmine is a big proponent for following your passions and constantly learning.

A bundle of energy, she seamlessly hops from one project to another. Starting Raine For Water led her to Ghana where she learned about environmental issues and the impact on farmers. This eventually brought her to India where she discovered her passion for working with youth.

When she returned to Canada, Jazzmine re-launched Raine For Water as The Raine Network to help young entrepreneurs and marginalized women in Toronto and beyond. Her work with youth naturally resulted in a position at Studio 89, where she was promoted to Executive Director in less than three months.

Jazzmine’s story may sound extraordinary, but it teaches us one key thing: don’t let lack of knowledge or experience (or even age) stop you from pursuing your dreams.

So what does this mean for you, you aspiring entrepreneur?

You don’t need to know everything right off the bat. When it comes to entrepreneurship, experimenting and courage are more important than business plans and analyses.

So, ride the waves and keep your head above water – there’s nothing wrong with not knowing as long as you’re willing to learn.

Second, don’t underestimate the power of asking for help. Like Jazzmine, find others who are doing things that really excite you and “leech” onto them. Ask questions, ask for feedback, and don’t be afraid to seek out (and offer) support from and to other entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship isn’t easy, and it’s all the more daunting when you’re entering a domain that requires a brand new set of knowledge, skills, and experience.

But if you’re passionate and really believe in your idea, then you have everything you need to get started.

Entrepreneurs For Social Change Meetup May 2016

Passionate about starting your own ethical business or a passion project? Click here to learn more about our Entrepreneurs For Social Change events in Toronto and meet likeminded people. You can also sign up to attend the next one.

Gelaine Santiago
Gelaine Santiago


Gelaine is co-founder of Cambio & Co. – a brand on a mission to change how business is done and how people shop. Cambio & Co. showcases contemporary, conscious fashion made with Filipino soul - all designed and handcrafted in the Philippines by talented Filipino artisans. Gelaine is a proud Filipina-Chinese-Canadian living in Toronto, writing and learning about Filipino culture, travel, and conscious living. Find her on Twitter @gelaineyyy.

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1 Response


November 09, 2016

This post touches on a key point that is applicable in all areas of human endeavour. Being an entrepreneur is a learned skill as much as any other. Along that path, there will be questions, doubts, concerns, and failures but trust in one’s ability to grow and learn will not only help soothe the bumps and bruises but also motivate one to get back up again.!

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