AT 25, John Paul Anderson of Rockfort, Kingston owns six businesses. These include offering social media marketing and web page development services to a cookie dough shop. Anderson, who relocated to Trinidad and Tobago at age 15, is encouraging other youngsters to consider entrepreneurship as a sustainable career path.

However, before that can come to fruition, he believes more should be done to encourage youngsters to develop a self-sustaining mindset.

“Regionally, the CSME (Caribbean Single Market and Economy) must have increased awareness of its opportunities, because migrating challenged me; it cracked open my business acumen at an extremely accelerated pace. Application and processing of certificates must be able to be remotely done with working websites for each territory,” he told Career & Education.

“Also, a category for IT (information technology) talent with projects would be wonderful to be created, as projects validate entrepreneurial skill, technical knowledge and collaboration capability. I hope that happens very soon. Stakeholders can recruit talent between islands much faster and affordable, should that happen.”

Anderson created an application, ‘Invoicer’, to assist with managing invoices. When he listed the app on flipper.co, someone bought it from him. His published book, You Deserve Success, and his web development business Hublab, accumulated over $120,000 in revenue within days.

Regarding youngsters trying to find their place in society, Anderson said they need to have grit and passion to get it done.

“You have to be willing to learn from what people do incorrectly. Both my parents had traits I knew I wanted to borrow from and leave some behind and culturally, that is a mindset I’d love to see more of — more leading and being willing to go against the grain to create something purposeful for others and yourself at the same time. You have to think for yourself. Your parents will not always be right. Your boss is sometimes wrong. You have things to teach people. Be curious above anything; curious about the world, life, purpose and people. It’s a sign of empathy,” he said.

At 25, he also owns two properties that he bought. But one may ask, how?

“I wanted to start a media machine at the time I moved to Trinidad that shared Jamaica’s idea of image within Trinidad at that point. I learnt bigger lessons and applied them since then, like the value of software engineering and solving business problems that can generate direct income. I’d still own a magazine in a heartbeat; however, the winning is sometimes in the lessons won,” he said.

“I was very determined for success. I knew that I aspired to be successful in many veins and would ask any question, probe anything I was stuck at, and give my full effort to achieve a result. I risked losing every cent when I opened my physical store,” he said, noting that he used revenue he earned from his web development business to cover paying rent for, and refurbishing a building on Picton Street in Trinidad’s capital, Port of Spain.

“I risked my reputation with every single website I developed and was unsure about how successful I would be in the outcome,” he said.

But most of all, he said he risked his university education. “When pursuing every single business, I took away time from coursework which resulted in me failing semesters more than once, and I was not willing to compromise my business for anything because of what it was able to provide me —freedom more than education ever could. I eventually learnt that I provide that freedom, and I can choose to acquire it through any means once it fits my moral framework.”

Anderson’s formative educational years began in Jamaica at Wolmer’s Preparatory, before he went on to Ardenne High School for a few years. Throughout those impressionable years, he recalled his parents being inspiring go-getters.

“When you experience life with a first generation college graduate mother, and successful entrepreneur father, growth is not linear; it’s rocky. My dad had a growing business which he eventually retired from, and my mother scaled her corporate career. I came from an educated and hardworking household which is reflected in me,” he said.

“When with my extended family, I’d have experienced some of now classified ‘poor’ parts of life, at that age, all I recall was normal, and I was a safe, protected kid. While my mom had to study or work, I’d be under the watch of my aunts and cousins or an eventual housekeeper, and I was able to explore and be me. My environment was always filled with laughter and fun when I was exploring,” he continued, noting that in retrospect, he may have been emotionally shielded from most of the hardships life threw.

He got his own income for the first time at around age 13, after being in commercials. When his family moved to Trinidad, Anderson went to school at St Mary’s College. At that time, he started a magazine with the aim of, “Letting teenagers see themselves in the media. This was 2013, pre-Instagram peaking. I wasn’t seeing myself out there and I had no newspaper to read as a Jamaican in Trinidad, and I decided that I should solve this media problem. The mission of that magazine is carried through me still in a conversation like this one. I am still empowering teenagers and young adults to be their best selves for tomorrow and today, and I am challenging the adults to welcome this direction.”

By 18, he said he started prioritising a business-oriented mindset even more.

“I’m creating some infrastructures to leave behind in the world. Today, I learn from the best mentors in the world and I have access to almost anything. I am committed to contributing to this ecosystem because I have a lot I have learnt through my experiences as a businessman and Jamaican. My growth has been brutal, yet consistent, sustainable, sometimes exponential. I like the value of the Caribbean with that reality of progress.”

Moving away from individual pursuits, he believes non-government organisations and the government itself should promote entrepreneurship among youth.

“There is a massive active pool of businesses across Caricom countries now, and may forever be. And it is relatively accessible for those wanting to find work. I’d like to see [the CSME being more] inclusive of those with practical knowledge in business, because I was there…

Speaking directly to youngsters, Anderson said, “You have intelligence, which is a gift that allows you to interpret this message and apply it to something. Take it from me; with experience and with setbacks in every category, we’re more alike than opposites in our make-up. I’d encourage youth to fight for their value to be seen and understood, and refine until you hit that sweet spot where you see results and you are satisfied.”

BY ROMARDO LYONS Career & Education reporter lyonsr@jamaicaobserver.com

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