Starting a business is a great learning experience for anyone, no matter what age you are. It can teach you how to budget your time and money efficiently, deal with nice and nasty people, and most importantly, see how what you do today will affect what kind of life you live tomorrow. You also learn the qualities of leadership and how to pick your employees. Although this is well and good, being instructed under a mentor has a lot of advantages too. You can see how someone successful works in certain situations and how you would or would not, imitate them in your own business. It can also teach you how to become a mentor yourself someday, when the next generation comes to you for help.
I personally would recommend starting a business at a young age, rather than spending a good deal of your young life under a mentor. Starting a business early will give you those extra years to utilize the power of compound interest (which I will explain in a different article). The ideal situation would be to be mentored and start a business at the same time. However, this could put you in a very tight schedule, especially if you are still in high school and/or trying to study for CLEP exams. Through the World Wide Web, you can watch and read many high level, very well put together, books and videos that can give you a lot of great tips and tricks for getting your business on its feet. Books like Michael Masterson’s The Pledge: Your Master Plan for an Abundant Life, The Secret of Selling Anything by Harry Browne, and George Clason’s mysterious book The Richest Man in Babylon are great resources to help you develop good habits for saving money and being a good leader. Another advantage of starting a business over mentorship, is the fact you are making much more cash than if you were a getting paid minimum wage as an apprentice. Even if you start a little yard mowing business (which is what I’m getting into), you are bound to make more money than $8/hr, or whatever it is. Also, if you wait until you leave your parents house, you have to pay for food and board, which makes business failures not bounce back as quick.
If you do decide to go into an apprenticeship, I would recommend finding a business man who has really succeeded in the marketplace. Typically, older people are more likely to take you under their wing and teach you their trade, because they are heading toward the end of their career and are not trying to keep their competitors from figuring out their strategy. However, a middle aged person will still be trying to make the big bucks and won’t have time to do this. Now, you might think this is to much to ask a person, but people who have had a long and interesting career and made it big, want to leave a legacy to the next generation. So, as you can see, either way is beneficial. However, as I said above, starting a business at an early age can be tried and failed at without loosing more than what money you invest in it. You won’t have to go sleep on the streets if you make a mistake.