Entrepreneurship has been around since the first creative caveman decided he could gather more fur or fish than he needed and trade it for other things.
It takes a good idea, the wherewithal to implement that idea, and the ability to market it to others who are willing to become customers.
Growing up, we probably knew some entrepreneurs the neighbor who owned his own hardware store, the man we bought our first used car from, or the couple who owned a restaurant.
They were probably middle-aged or, if young, learning the business from a parent to one day take it over.
There wasn’t a lot of hunger on the part of young people to start their own businesses right out of school or even before graduating. They needed to take jobs and get some “seasoning” before making such a bold move.
At least, that was the thought then. Today, that hunger is pretty prevalent, and young people in their 20s have decided not to wait for that seasoning they are ready to roll now and they are impatient.
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Why the Attitude Shift
There are a number of reasons why starting a business at a young age is a good idea.
- Technology has opened up lots of opportunities, and who is more tech savvy than Millennials? They grew up with devices, stay on top of everything new, and understand that there is money to be made in the next best app or disruption.
- Millennials know the stories of Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos. Most are not so naïve as to think that they will be billionaires, but they do understand that business startups can be initially inexpensive and, if successful, there is plenty of venture capital out there. They don’t have to make huge initial personal investments, as in equipment, supplies, and such. And marketing is much easier and cheaper.
- Millennials are marrying and having children later. They are not bogged down with family responsibilities which curb risk-taking. They have only themselves to take care of, so what better time to do this than right now?
- Millennials lived through the crisis of 2008 and understand that job security is not a given. They are less prone to turn over their career and financial well-being to someone else and to make that someone else rich with their labors.
- Young people tend to have more energy and enthusiasm. If they find something to be passionate about, they will pursue it relentlessly. And, because they are so familiar with social media, website design, content marketing, and email strategies, they are pretty quick studies when it comes to brand spreading and relationship building with their target audiences.
- Venture capitalists like young, fresh, enthusiastic entrepreneurs. They understand the commitment that they are willing to make
- Even though at least half of new businesses do not make it, 50 percent do, and these are good enough odds for many young people. And many are making a great go of it, even before they reach the age of 25. Here are some entrepreneurs who can probably say they have made it.
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5 Inspiring Entrepreneurs Under 25
Jessica Eckstrom: Headbands of Hope (24)
During college, Eckstrom completed an internship at the Make-a-Wish Foundation that sparked her idea. She understood the emotional plight of little girls who lose their hair during cancer treatment. While still in school she founded Headbands of Hope, a company that sells, you guessed it, headbands, but with a twist. For every headband purchased, she donates one to a little girl with cancer and $1 to children’s cancer research. Three years later, her startup isn’t going anywhere, except to expand.
Tara Haughton: Rosso Solini (22)
Haughton launched Rosso Solini in 2010, at the age of 16— stickers that could be placed on high-heeled shoes to provide a “designer” look. Her business has gone international with online orders from about 40 countries and brick-and-mortar stores all over Ireland.
Timothy Hwang: FiscalNote (23)
Hwang's company FiscalNote aggregates data from legislation, regulations and court rulings and uses it to predict future legislation and court cases. To date, he has raised over $18 million in venture capital.
Mikaila Ulmer: BeeSweet Lemonade (11)
This young lady began a lemonade stand in Austin, Texas, trying to raise money to end child slavery in the world. She used a recipe from her grandmother that include flaxseed and honey for its sweetener. The health department shut her down. Undaunted, she appeared on Shark Tank and received a $60,000 investment to start production, following health department regulations this time. The publicity for BeeSweet Lemonade landed her a contract with Whole Foods Market—they will carry her product in four states as a beginning.
Dane Christianson: Moving Parts (23)
Christianson’s fascination with the Rubik’s Cube in middle school and beyond has now translated into Moving Parts, which first launched the X-Cube (invented by him) a high-tech version of the original It is really a 3D logic puzzle that has 125 decillion unique permutations. He raised about $50,000 on Kickstarter in 2013 to get it launched. More games/puzzles have been and will be added.
While these are cool businesses, coming from some great ideas, many young entrepreneurs want close connections with Silicon Valley, because that is the hub of high tech and lots of venture capital. And there is certainly a great deal of promise in creating the next gadget or app. Still, the entrepreneurial spirit goes far beyond tech, as creative young people get their “juices” flowing.
Two young men recently launched a company that produces portable hand sanitizers for medical personnel to wear on their belts or elsewhere during their work hours. Instant hand cleaner without having to find a restroom. Genius.
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And while all of these non-tech enterprises are launched, there are young entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley who are probably coming up with free tools that their counterpart startupers can use as they develop their businesses.
A lot of Millennials have a unique mindset. They want to be in control of their work life, and traditional companies and careers do not offer that. The more recent surge in startups reflects this new mindset.