Many people dream about starting their own company. After all, what could be better than being your own boss and bringing your passion project to the world? Even if you’re not ready to start your business, there are many things you can do while you’re young to boost your chances of startup success down the road.
Becoming an entrepreneur can be intimidating, but utilizing the right tactics to start off strong can boost your chances of success. We’ll look at 10 tips for getting young entrepreneurs on the right path and explore some business ideas for young entrepreneurs.
Tips for young entrepreneurs
Here are 10 tips and best practices that can help young entrepreneurs overcome the challenges of starting a business and find success.
1. Find your passion.
The most successful startups are founded by people passionate about what they do. So what are your passions? Whether you love kayaking or music, the things you’re most interested in can be a great source of inspiration for entrepreneurial ideas.
When you base your ideas on something you truly love, you’ll be more focused and motivated. Better yet, you’ll bring in your own knowledge and personal experiences – key ingredients that can help you find a unique angle to help you succeed.
Did you know? FreshBooks found that 15 million Americans are self-employed full time, with QuickBooks reporting that 28.2% of American workers had some form of self-employment, including freelance businesses.
2. Know your market.
Failing to understand your market is one of the top reasons new businesses fail. If you want any chance of success, you must thoroughly research your target market before launching your business.
Understanding your market will help you identify crucial attributes like price points and marketing plan messages that appeal to your target audience. You’ll also understand the market’s need for your idea – if that need exists. The better you understand your target market, the easier it will be to avoid costly misfires.
3. Get your finances in order.
While many startups enlist the help of angel investors to get up and running, you can’t assume you’ll get that type of financial help. Many entrepreneurs self-fund their businesses, which means you should do everything possible to improve your financial situation.
Start building credit as early as possible (in high school if possible), and pay off student loans and other debts. An excellent credit rating will make getting a business loan to help fund your startup significantly easier. It will also give you the discipline to implement budget planning and keep your company’s finances straight.
4. Prepare to make sacrifices.
There’s no such thing as an overnight success. Even the multimillion-dollar startups that seem to pop up out of nowhere were the result of countless hours of hard work before they started making headlines. As Steve Jobs said, “If you look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.”
Becoming a successful entrepreneur requires an intense level of dedication to your dream, and this means sacrificing time and money to make it happen. It may not be fun to give up those nightly Netflix binges or weekend parties with friends so you can put in some extra hours on your startup, but these sacrifices are much easier to make now than when you’re older.
Did you know? Signs from childhood that you’re a born entrepreneur include early time-management skills, being a natural leader and pushing boundaries.
5. Find a mentor.
Running a business requires a wide range of skills and expertise you likely haven’t mastered yet. You shouldn’t try to make challenging business decisions on your own. Because of this, finding a mentor is one of the most crucial things a young entrepreneur can do.
Mentors have walked your path and bring knowledge and experience to help you move forward and make smarter business decisions. Use alumni networks, conferences and other resources to form these valuable connections. You can even get free mentoring help from retired executives volunteering for SCORE.
6. Tune up your business knowledge.
You may be passionate about your big idea, but creative energy isn’t enough. Successful businesses require more than an innovative product; they need a competent team to manage finances, operations, manufacturing, marketing and all the other things that go into producing and selling a product.
Take time to improve your business IQ, and create a hiring process to find like-minded individuals who can join your team and compensate for your deficiencies. By paying just as much attention to the business side of things as the creative side, you will lay a foundation for a startup that lasts.
7. Be a planner.
The “tell me your five-year plan” job interview question is an uncomfortable experience for many. However, to be a successful entrepreneur, you need the ability to plan ahead. Use your overarching goals to set realistic milestones for your company’s growth and development. By placing key actions on a timeline, you’ll improve your focus and accountability, making it much easier to stay on top of what must be done. [Learn how to answer the five-year question in interviews.]
8. Find good people.
While you may be a solopreneur in your early days, you will need to hire good people as your company grows. It’s essential to hire people with the skills and experience your company needs, but it’s crucial to hire for a cultural fit to surround yourself with people who share your character and values.
9. Be flexible.
Sometimes things don’t work out quite as you expected, but they still work out. Have the flexibility to adjust to changes you see in the market to capitalize on opportunities. Just as Netflix transformed its business from DVD kiosks to streaming, you must have the ability to look at the bigger picture and pivot when needed.
10. Take action.
Planning is necessary, but making those plans a reality is at the heart of entrepreneurship. Being a business owner means taking risks even when there is uncertainty. Even once your business is going, you’ll need to continually scan for new growth opportunities and challenges and take action to come out on top.
Did you know? Starting a business doesn’t have to be expensive. Business ideas you can start on the cheap include sales consulting, virtual training and a social media marketing service.
Business ideas for young entrepreneurs
Do you want to start a business but don’t know what kind? Consider one of these business ideas.
- Online reselling: It’s easy to set up an online store on Amazon or Shopify or even sell on Instagram. Identify a niche product that you want to sell and look for suppliers. Take pictures, write descriptions and market your e-commerce store.
- Mobile pet grooming: The mobile pet grooming industry is growing. Starting a mobile pet grooming business mainly involves buying and outfitting a van and marketing your services.
- Freelance writing: If you’re a good writer, you can work from home writing articles and creating content for websites. Market your services on Upwork and other freelance platforms.
- Catering: Great cooks can monetize their skills by providing event catering or home chef services. Create menus and take gorgeous pictures of your creations for your website and social media accounts.
- Event planners: Very organized individuals with a good eye for design and entertainment can peddle their knowledge as event planners.
- Cleaning: Maid services have low startup costs, including equipment like vacuums and cleaning supplies. You can start out doing it yourself and then add employees as your customer base grows.
- App development: Program a new app that provides value to users, and sell it on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Starting your own business can be exciting and challenging. While you’ll undoubtedly encounter many obstacles and setbacks on your path to success, following these tips will help you start strong on your entrepreneurial journey.
Nathan Resnick contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.