As a young entrepreneur focused on social entrepreneurship, Mikaila Ulmer inspires others with her success. In fact, the 15-year-old believes her thriving business, Me & the Bees, shows that the future is all about social entrepreneurs.
Mikaila spoke to Ramon Ray at the recent Survive and Thrive Growth Summit. Thanks to Dell, she tells her story about entrepreneurship and leadership. She also explains the importance of her family, her new book, the Dell Women’s Entrepreneurship Network, and her advice to young and old.
From bee sting to busy business
Mikaila first told how Me & the Bees started. That brings us back to when she was only four years old and stung by one bee, then less than a week later by another. She was understandably afraid of bees.
But with her parents’ encouragement, she learned all about bees and what they mean in our lives. Mikaila then modified her grandma’s 1940s lemonade recipe by sweetening it with honey and the rest, as they say, is history.
She says her family is very important to Me & the Bees’ growth. You are always supportive. More importantly, it helps her learn the things she needs to take the next step in her business.
You’re helping her figure out how to do it. Although her parents have no experience with drinks, they were with her all the way. Now she has a beehive behind her, explains Mikaila.
Pull the social entrepreneurship
Young entrepreneurs may not yet have an idea of which business they want to build. That’s okay, says Mikaila.
Many people are not immediately sure what to do. That’s why she advises seeing things from other people’s perspective. Try to think about problems others have. Then think about how you can solve these problems or meet these requirements. Because of this, Mikaila believes that the future of business is social entrepreneurship.
“I think the most successful companies are those that fix problems or solve needs,” she says.
I think the most successful companies are those that solve problems or enjoy solving needs
The next generations are looking for products that are good for the world, she explains. They look at labels, compare them on websites, and make their decision.
“Start a business with a cause or a mission because I think social entrepreneurship is the future,” she says.
The benefits are numerous, she says. First, there is a growing tide of conscious consumption. And then your brand awareness and reliability increase.
Start a business with a cause or mission because social entrepreneurship will be the future in my opinion
“At least in my experience with Me & the Bees, I’ve found that there are a lot more people who are willing to join the mission, who want to believe, who believe in your product and who will support your company,” she says.
“It’s a lot easier to get brand awareness and interest in people,” she explains. “You also have something in common. It’s like, “Hey, I realize this is a problem too. I’m glad we have this in common, and I’ll help you resolve that too. “
Mikaila was smart about using whatever support was available on her business trip. There is her always helpful family. She also relies on partners like Dell to advance her mission.
She says Dell carries her lemonade to the Austin cafeteria. Just being able to demonstrate your product in these cafeterias and see people enthusiastic about their work means a lot, she says.
Another thing that Dell provides is resources. You actually surprised Mikaila once and equipped her office with the equipment she needs.
And then there’s the Dell Women’s Entrepreneurship Network (DWEN). Mikaila says she has been with DWEN since 2016 and she cannot recommend it enough.
She speaks for girls at Girls Track Sessions. She uses DWEN to network with other inspiring entrepreneurs.
“I made connections that I’m still in touch with today, even as I speak about this book and grow the company,” she says.
Mikaila says she also learned about pitching, public speaking, and branding from DWEN events.
Advice for young (and older) entrepreneurs
For those who are hesitant to do business because of their age, Mikaila has a message.
“If you have big dreams, if you want to be a changemaker, then I wouldn’t put it off at any cost because I’m young. I think that’s ridiculous, ”she says. “Don’t say ‘Oh, I’m too young’ because you can still study no matter how young you are.”
She says that curiosity is a given for people, especially children. Your generation should also take advantage of the fact that they were born into technology. Use this to gain an advantage, she explains earlier in the conversation.
“Don’t wait to make a difference just because you’re young,” says Mikaila.
Don’t wait for it to make a difference just because you’re young
As for older aspiring entrepreneurs, their advice is straight out of their new book: Bee Fearless – Dream like a child. That means: “Dream like a child.”
“I think if we all like to dream like a kid when it comes to business … I think a lot more people are making their dreams come true,” she says.
By dreaming like a child, she is saying that people need to focus on opportunities and really big goals and dreams. That is against paying more attention to the obstacles that are on the way.
“I think the world would be in a much better place,” says Mikaila.
Mikaila’s tips for young and old are:
- Build a business that solves a problem or provides a need. People want to support brands that are doing well in the world.
- Take advantage of the support that is available to you. It can come from your family or friends, or from organizations, networks, and events.
- Don’t let age stop you from building your business. Don’t say that you are too young and that it is never too late to start.
- Dream like a child. Focus on your goals and dreams rather than just the obstacles along the way.
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