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Build Your Mental Toughness!

We’ve never heard anyone say that being a teenager is easy. Or that starting and running a business is easy. Combine those two things as a young entrepreneur, and you’ll certainly be challenged! There’ll be detours on your entrepreneurial journey. There’ll be challenges and obstacles. You’ll have to step outside your comfort zone more than a few times. You’ll be told “no,” (a lot) and you’ll have to pick yourself up and start from scratch.

One of the best things you can do for yourself at this stage of your life is to build your mental toughness. Because the road to success isn’t easy. Call it what you want – grit, determination, perseverance, persistence. Mental toughness is what will pull you through the tough times, ease you past the rough patches, and help you earn the success you deserve!


Everyone makes them. Literally, everyone. If no one made mistakes, or if mistakes were quite uncommon, then pencils wouldn’t have erasers, word processing programs wouldn’t have “undo” buttons, and you would only get one chance to take the SATs.

Whether it’s something small, like wearing mismatched socks to school, or something enormous, like a loud sneeze-fart in class, we promise it won’t kill you. You may disagree in the moment, but no one has ever died of embarrassment.

It’s the same thing in business. You’re going to make a few bad decisions along the way. Things are going to happen that are beyond your control. And sometimes you’ll just plain embarrass yourself in front of customers, investors, and others.

Learn how to brush it off. Learn how to live with it. Own it. Fix it, if it’s something that needs fixing. And then move on.


You’re not the same person today that you were this time last year, right? So, why would you expect things to be the same next year? Or the year after that?

Change is the only constant in life. And this part of your life has some of the biggest, most impressive changes of all!

Very rarely is change all good or all bad. Whatever happens, the best thing you can do for yourself is to acknowledge that it happens. Don’t ever assume that the way things are in the moment is the way they’ll be forever. Mental toughness comes with learning how to “go with the flow” and make the best of whatever situation you’re in.


Young entrepreneurs don’t start their journey because it will be easy. You didn’t, right? Teens who are college-bound, bright, and high-achieving know how to face a challenge! Like all your AP classes, entrepreneurship is challenging. Most of it can be a lot of fun. But it will take a certain amount of mental toughness to face the parts of entrepreneurship that, well, are kind of a pain. If you weren’t born knowing how to balance a budget, your challenge will be learning how to do that. If you’re all business and zero creative, you’ll have to deal with that, too.

The key is to embrace the challenge. These things aren’t obstacles in your way. Think of them as short detours you need to follow to get back on your own path. Once you’ve conquered these challenges, you’ll be unstoppable!


There are always reasons not to do something. You’re tired. You don’t have time. It’s too hard. It’s not fun. It’s stupid. But for young entrepreneurs looking to reach the top, those are nothing but excuses. And truly successful leaders don’t have time for excuses.

Positive thinking will help you lose the excuses and pump yourself up to make things happen. It’s not all rose-tinted glasses, either. Positive thinking isn’t the same as infinite optimism or being unrealistic. Instead, positive thinking includes:

  • Seeing discomfort as temporary
  • Not taking things personally
  • Recognizing and complimenting yourself on a job well done
  • Showing gratitude
  • Owning the things you do wrong and actively trying to improve them

You don’t need to love everything, like everyone, or think that life is wonderful all the time. But learning how to think positively, in the true sense, will help you build that mental toughness you need.


Some things are beyond your control. The family you’re born into. The daily weather. (Though, if you learn to control that, please let us know ASAP.) The traffic on the way to school. Homework.

Mentally tough people don’t spend their lives agonizing over things beyond their control. They don’t cry themselves to sleep at night because someone else made a rude comment to them. (You can’t control other people.) They don’t beat themselves up because it’s raining. And they don’t drive themselves into a frenzy of negative self-talk because their favorite show got canceled.

A big part of successful entrepreneurship is learning how to take control of the things you can. These include your own time, your sleep habits, your diet and exercise, and your attitude. Do what you can with what you’re given.


You can’t do more than your best. That’s impossible. Knowing that you gave something your best efforts, though, will help you build mental toughness. You studied as much as you could, but you still got a C instead of an A. What else could you have done? Not much, not without driving yourself to burnout. And would it have been worth your mental and physical health for that one grade? We doubt it.

Trying new things is never easy. Working hard is never easy. You can’t give more than you have inside you. Nor should you try. Stick with doing what you can and embrace that this is how you are.

By practicing these habits, you’ll prepare yourself for whatever entrepreneurial challenges come your way. You’ll be able to navigate the twists and turns that come with the entrepreneurial roller coaster. But more than that, you’ll become a more resilient human being. It’s not that you’ll never have challenges or tough times. You’ll just make it past them quicker and easier.

The Kantner Foundation awards college scholarships to young entrepreneurs in Florida. Click here to learn more and apply.

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