Jack Bonneau, founder of Teen Hustl.
Teenage entrepreneur Jack Bonneau found smart and natural ways to pivot his package delivery business, Teen Hustl, during the pandemic. — Teen Hustl

Roll with the changes, persevere through the challenges and learn from the new opportunities presented to you.

These are the most important lessons to remember when running a business during uncertain times like the current pandemic, according to 15-year-old Jack Bonneau, founder of Teen Hustl and winner of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 Young Entrepreneur Achievement Award.

[Small business owners can apply for this year's Dream Big Awards, presented by Spectrum Reach, here.]

“In the past year, we have experienced that the world has changed in significant ways for business, school and life,” he noted. “Pivoting your business is not thinking that your initial idea was a failure, but that through your startup, you gain experience and knowledge that you wouldn’t have had any other way.”

Changing business models while catering to the current need

Colorado-based Teen Hustl started out as a hyperlocal food delivery service, employing teens to deliver food items to customers on behalf of local restaurants. However, when the restaurant business slowed down due to COVID-19 restrictions, Bonneau had to find a way to pivot his company’s offerings. Teen Hustl quickly shifted to delivering e-commerce package delivery and return services.

“We saw the dramatic increase of ordering online from Amazon and other retailers, and how customers were using Amazon Lockers and picking up at stores,” explained Bonneau.

Pivoting your business is not thinking that your initial idea was a failure, but that through your startup, you gain experience and knowledge that you wouldn’t have had any other way.

Jack Bonneau, founder, Teen Hustl

While building its business model, Teen Hustl decided to leverage its robust team of local neighborhood teens to counteract the delivery van traffic and porch package theft. Bonneau was dedicated to providing teens with the same opportunities their parents and grandparents had working newspaper routes as children.

Through Teen Hustl, young workers use bikes and electric scooters to deliver FedEx, Amazon and UPS packages to customers so they can stay safe at home.Teen Hustl’s success is all about the team’s underlying belief in its mission. For Bonneau, that mission is “to bring our nation's teens into the gig economy and solve problems in last mile delivery that neighborhood teens are uniquely qualified to solve.”

[Read more: A Guide for High School Entrepreneurs]

Learning to embrace change and the opportunities it brings

Even though Bonneau is a young entrepreneur, he already has two startups under his belt. His first startup was Jack’s Stands and Marketplaces, a program with events where parents and their business-minded children could experience entrepreneurship through customer service and business lessons.

Throughout his ventures, Bonneau has picked up important lessons along the way, many of which have served him throughout the pandemic. One of his main tips for aspiring entrepreneurs is to learn to respond to change in a productive way.

“Whether you’re a teen or an adult, as an entrepreneur you have to be open and embrace change,” said Bonneau. “So as we see new changes becoming the new norm, embrace these changes and find new opportunities to create great startups and businesses.”

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