How Etsy Paid Her Way Through College


About a month ago, I saw an article on Entrepreneur Magazine about a Teen who is paying her way through college through opening an Etsy shop. I was so impressed that I reached out to her via Twitter to ask her more questions. Entrepreneurship has no age limit, so if you have an idea, the difference between being a dreamer and doer is taking action. That’s what LeiLei Secor did and here’s how you can learn from her story:

1) Briefly share how you got started as an entrepreneur

Like many 16 year olds, I was looking for a summer job. I didn’t get hired anywhere I applied to so I thought to myself, “Maybe I could sell the jewelry I make”. At the time, I made macrame and beaded bracelets but once my shop opened I taught myself how to make wire wrap jewelry. On July 27th, I opened my Etsy shop and a week later I received my first sale. From then on, I received them daily.

2) What do you consider your biggest strength as an entrepreneur?

I think my biggest strength was my determination. Whenever I start something that really interests me, I immerse myself in it. I would sit online for hours researching what worked and what didn’t. I spent a lot of time on Etsy’s forums reading what other sellers had to say. To this day, I will spend a good amount of time time on Etsy’s forums reading the general chitchat and sentiments of other sellers. 

3) What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced so far is keeping up with the trends and changing search engine of Etsy. As one of the most competitive markets on Etsy, jewelry sellers have to work on differentiating their product from the thousands of others out there. An important part of Etsy is keeping up with titles and keywords that will keep your listings relevant in the search engine. It’s challenging to try to figure out what will make your listing show up in the first few pages of listings.

4) How would you describe your style/personal brand so far?

I would describe my personal brand to be simplistic and young. I try to create simple pieces that would appeal to multiple age groups and compliment any style outfit.

5) What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs from your journey?

My best advice to aspiring entrepreneurs would be to just go for it and immerse yourself in whatever it is you are passionate about. I think if you put your all into something, you will surely get something out of it.

The Bottom Line Starts At The Top


When it comes to business everything funnels back to the bottom line. Financials matter, but shows like The Profit emphasize that if your people aren’t the right fit, it may not matter what your product or service is. The traditional organizational chart is slowly being replaced by a more “flat” model, but since decisions need to be made quickly most companies still rely on an ultimate point person.

If you are the CEO, the pressure’s on, but for the majority of people who aren’t you have to manage up. If you’re in direct contact with the owner or main power player great, but if you’re not you still can influence the company if you’re intentional about it.

The heart of an organization usually lies with the sales force because without profit, you don’t have a business. Numbers talk, but even if you’re not in sales your “voice” becomes louder with results. So regardless of position, hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. If you want to be heard more, do something that makes noise so others notice you. If you put your head down, do your work and duck out you’ll never move up (as far as you’d like). It takes a shift from “me” to “we” in order to climb the ladder. That means when you start taking ownership for your responsibilities and realizing where it fits into the bigger part of the organization it starts to click.

At this point is where you start to take pride in your work. If a job is just a job, it’s only a matter of when, not if you leave. Looking at your position from the boss’ perspective changes everything. Like a well-oiled machine you start to see how each maneuver affects the other parts. The different layers of management start being more crucial to the overall success of the company. How decisions from the top trickle-down to the frontline: the customer-employee transaction. Now you understand how the top affects the bottom. Because you imagined how to run the company like it was your own.

It’s usually at this point where employees leave current positions to start their own business. You’ve learned an industry, witnessed a process that works and have ideas of how to make it more efficient. Thinking top-down doesn’t mean you should become an entrepreneur, but it should be your goal to at least think like one. So no matter where you are in your career, don’t forget: if you really want to affect the bottom line, start at the top.

Why Do You Want to be An Entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur is certainly a stressful experience.

Why, then, would anyone dream about taking their chances as an entrepreneur?

It is not that hard to fathom.

Let us find out why.

It is Satisfying

When you taste success as an entrepreneur, it could be both emotionally and financially

rewarding. There is no better feeling in this world than seeing a product you have

designed on a store rack, or when you have provided extraordinary service for an

appreciative customer. It is all the more exciting to win a new customer over or

successfully complete a sale when you know it all comes down to your perseverance.

Further, it is very pleasing when customers tell you that your service has truly made a

remarkable difference in their lives. Finally, it goes without saying that generating

profits and knowing your business is scalable provide great personal satisfaction as well.

It is Flexible

The degree of flexibility in an entrepreneurial avatar is far too flexible than what you

would experience in a typical 9 to 5 job. Yes, you can put in more hours at work, and

you can very well do so whenever you want- on your own terms. Moreover, you can

take a break at 330 to pick up your kids from the school down the road. What’s more,

you need not seek for permission from your boss. If you are nocturnal, you can change

your schedule to work from 12 am to 5 am. You are the boss. You are free to call the

shots. And, it can be quite exciting.

It is an opportunity to create

What do you want to do as an entrepreneur? Do you want to build something new? Or,

do you prefer to help others around you? Maybe you want to form a legacy that will

outlive you. Or, you want to help the community by leaving something behind. No

matter what motivates you, building things or creating stuff right from scratch is akin to

raising a baby.

Got a new idea for a small business? It is not difficult to get business loans these days.

Several small business loan companies are ready to turn your dream into reality. Leave

it to them, and set your focus, rather, on the new idea. The joy you get from seeing

your idea grow, and develop over time into a successful entity is incomparable.

The sense of accomplishment, the degree of flexibility and the chance to innovate that

an entrepreneurship role offers is quite difficult to replicate in most other professions.

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