Five lessons that I learned at LITE

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By Marissa Pittman

Let’s Innovate through Education (LITE) is an Entrepreneurship Program for minority high school students to change their communities. Last spring, I was one of just 27 students to be selected for the spring 2017 cohort of the LITE Finalist program, an intensive 6-month business incubator for youth. As a result, LITE helped me launch Pumps and Politics 901, an organization aimed at amplifying the voice of young women of color in the political process.

1. You are never too young to provoke change.

As the youngest finalist in the program, I was intimidated at first. Yet, I realized that if you are passionate and work hard: you can accomplish anything. For instance, when I was in the program, I was juggling lots of responsibilities. I was the president of a club at my school, a member of Future Business Leaders of America, my grade’s representative on a student platform, an Honors student, and an entrepreneur in LITE’s finalist program. I was always busy, and I often reconsidered everything that was on my plate. Yet, once I was done with the school year and looked back on my accomplishments with the help of my friends and family, I was amazed.

2. Memphis is home to numerous young professionals.

Most teenage Memphians think that Memphis is full of gangs and violence. However, from female entrepreneurship panels to policy talks with Barbara Walter, LITE showed me that Memphis is actually a great city for professionals. When I had my first Pumps and Politics 901 event, I contacted powerful women in Memphis, such as Councilwoman Patrice Robinson and Ms. London Lamar, to contribute their voice at the event.

3. Social media presence is EXTREMELY important.

When I had my first event at Memphis City Hall, an overwhelming number of attendees found my event through my social media accounts. Never underestimate the power of social media. If you’re starting a business, you can broadcast your services on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Additionally, consistency on your page and establishing a theme is crucial. Even if you aren’t trying to start a business or organization, you can support other people’s initiatives by reposting an event flyer or sharing their profile.

4. Practice prevents poor performance.

LITE provided me the opportunity to pitch my idea, Pumps and Politics 901, to over four hundred people. Relentlessly, I practiced, and my hard work paid off. Although I didn't have the largest amount of votes, I proved to myself that practice makes perfect.

5. Entrepreneurship is not always what you think.

When I told my friends that I was in an entrepreneurship program, they thought I was crazy. Yet, I explained to them that there are different types of entrepreneurs : lifestyle, serial, social, and more. Once people realize that entrepreneurship isn't as difficult or far- fetched as it might seem, we can remove stereotypes and help our communities.

You can follow about Pumps and Politics 901 on Instagram and Facebook @pumpspolitics901. You can check out our blog here : www.pumpsandpoliticsblog.wordpress.com