Do you want to become an entrepreneur at 18? We break it down in with some simple and easy to follow steps.
Entrepreneurship is more popular than ever. There are 582 million entrepreneurs in the world and more are ready to join their ranks. Research from Junior Achievement (JA) and Ernst & Young (EY) reveals that 41 percent of teens would rather become an entrepreneur than work in a traditional job.
In fact, 61 percent of teen girls ad 54 percent of teen boys have thought about starting a business. Are you one of them?
If you are, you have a long and exciting journey ahead of you, especially if you are self-motivated and believe firmly in what you want to do.
Factors counting in favor of young people starting their own ventures
Young people have innate advantages over adults when it comes to starting a venture:
- They are not jaded by life
- They are not discouraged by previous failures
- They have innate resilience
- They think out of the box
- They are not bogged down by financial responsibilities like having to support a family
- Tech is in their DNA
With these advantages already at your disposal, all you need is some solid advice and a few tips to get you started on your entrepreneurial journey. Let’s get started.
Start by weighing the pros and cons
That’s obvious, right? Before considering entrepreneurship, you should consider the advantages and disadvantages of taking such a step.
Let’s look at the possible downsides first.
You will be eating, sleeping, and living your idea for months with no time for anything or anyone else, all for a business idea that might very well fail. After all, you already know the chances of that: 90 percent of startups fail.
So you may fail, but does that mean you wasted your time?
No, you gained valuable experience and skills that you can’t buy for all money in the world. In the process of developing your product or service, you have to be creative, apply analytical skills and deal with all sorts of problems.
Whether your business fails or not, you would have gained enormously from the experience, distinguishing yourself as someone who is willing to sacrifice everything and work hard to achieve a self-set goal. Those qualities look good on a resume and will impress future investors.
And the upside of entrepreneurship?
Of course, if your big idea becomes a big reality, you’ll be making big bucks and, who knows, serving humanity at large with a truly unique offering.
So, now that you have thought it through again, let’s look at some practical steps that can help you succeed.
- Only start on this road if you really believe in your idea
Being an entrepreneur is hard enough; if you begin this journey with a half-baked idea that might be a nice to have, forget it.
As overused as the word is, it stays true: you have to be passionate about your unique solution and believe that it will really solve concrete problems for people.
It is the passion and belief in their ideas that make entrepreneurs work day and night for months and even years.
Without it, you’ll peter out at the first major obstacle, and let’s face it, there will be many.
If you’re going to spend all of your time and effort on something, it may as well be something that you love with your whole heart.
- Don’t let your passion blind you to the real needs of your chosen industry
Do everything you can to understand your industry. Learn about competitors and what they offer, their pricing and marketing to understand your potential customers.
Your aim is to identify a gap in the market.
Too many startups fail because the founder was convinced everyone would love their product without first identifying the real need in the market.
Keep in mind that the number one reason startups fail is misreading market demand.
Don’t be intimidated by the competitors out there. They will always be there, so get used to it. Get the better of them by becoming an industry expert.
- Don’t let a lack of money stop you
The internet is full of stories of startups raising huge funds, creating the impression that a venture can’t get off the ground without funding.
That’s not true. The vast majority of businesses got off the ground without investment funding as such. A little savings and a few bob from a parent have started off countless ventures.
Hugely successful entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, and countless others prove that raising thousands of dollars in capital is not necessary for business success.
Most teens don’t have much money to speak of, yet there are examples of teens who have started biofuel, juice, food, jewellery, candy, clothing and other businesses with less than $50.
You don’t need a shiny product to impress investors.
A mock-up combined with a killer business plan that includes your revenue model will suffice.
This might not work for all products, though.
Get yourself some funding on Kickstarter
Kickstarter is the go-to platform for new businesses looking for some financial help. The process works more or less like this:
- Create a profile
- Set a funding goal
- Post a video
- Share your profile and video
- Get money from people – reach your funding goal
- Go ahead achieving the goal you set for the funds
Keep in mind that you’ll be up against stiff competition on the platform – in order to get traction, your campaign must be awesome.
That can be achieved through impressive visuals, good story-telling, and a professionally produced video.
Your content must be tops, selling both the product and the story behind the product. Before you create your campaign, scan similar projects on Kickstarter, so you know what to avoid and what to do to stand out.
- Learn to prioritize
This point cannot be stressed enough.
As founder of your company, you are the product designer, salesperson, and marketer. Wearing all these hats and others simultaneously can be overwhelming if you don’t learn to prioritize right from the start.
In these different capacities, you’ll have to handle diverse issues, some of them at the same time.
What’s important to understand is that you can’t deal with all these issues at once, it’s humanly impossible. The only solution is to learn to prioritize.
- Learn to ask for help when you need it
Following on the previous point, don’t try to fly this kite alone.
Leverage the help of friends, family, and peers who may have skills that you don’t have and who may be happy to lend a helping hand.
Instead of struggling on your own, think about outsourcing some tasks that other people can do better than you.
Keep in mind that the whole startup scene was built on collaboration.
People used their connections, networked and formed partnerships to get where they are. You should not let your startup flounder because you are too proud to ask for help. The most successful people have done it through the ages.
One way to get access to help is to partner with a peer or barter with local businesses for an exchange of services both parties need.
- Find a good mentor
Starting a venture from scratch is tough and brings with it many challenges.
While you may have the motivation and dedication to face all manner of challenges, you probably lack the life experience and business skills needed that a mentor can offer you.
Find a mentor with business experience in your industry to give you support, sound business advice and encouragement and help develop your skills.
Find a mentor who has been through the same experience and come out successful on the other side. Research has shown that the right mentoring support can lead to accelerated success for startups.
- Networking really is important
This is one piece of advice that all entrepreneurs get, no matter their age. Entrepreneurship is not something you can do alone in the comfort of your bedroom.
Yes, maybe up to a point, but somewhere along the line you’ll have to go out and face the world you want to serve.
At your age, the prospect of meeting a bunch of new people and talking to them was not something I would have relished. I didn’t have the confidence, as I suspect is the case with many teenagers.
You can take comfort from the fact that, these days, the world is crazy about young people, recognizing them as smart, tech-savvy individuals equipped to brave this new world.
You’ll find that investors and other entrepreneurs are actually interested to hear from young aspiring entrepreneurs.
- Maintain your focus
Life keeps happening while you’re busy working on your venture. All sorts of things can happen that distract you, but make a special effort to maintain your focus.
Keep your eyes on the goals for your company and don’t get distracted by what other entrepreneurs are doing.
Whatever you do, don’t compare yourself with others, how far they are along the path and what they are achieving. It’s pointless; everyone’s journey is unique.
Serial entrepreneurs advise the best thing for new entrepreneurs to do is to keep a narrow focus on their goals for their company and the task at hand.
- Grasp the opportunity
This is the ideal time for teens to start a business. The world has taken to entrepreneurship in a big way and has made countless resources available to anyone who dreams of becoming the CEO of their own company.
In addition, most teens are in a particularly advantageous position as they are supported by their parents and don’t have any dependents.
If your parents support you and are prepared to keep covering your basic expenses, grab the opportunity; it will never come again. If your parents are in a position to support you financially and support your dreams, be grateful and repay them by making the best of the opportunity.
- Don’t let fear of failure stop you
Are you plagued by questions like What if I fail? What if people think I’m crazy? What if no one is interested in my idea? What if no one believes in me? You are not alone. These are the fears of all entrepreneurs. Yes, the successful ones too.
Fear of failure is common among new and aspiring entrepreneurs.
In fact, 33% of Americans admit that the fear of failure holds them back from starting a business. Fear of failure is a prime reason that stops 67 percent of teens from starting a business. Interestingly, it was also a top concern of 65 percent of the surveyed entrepreneurs, 92 percent of whom said their companies have turned a profit.
The road to success is paved with failure upon failure, followed by making a comeback upon comeback.
Here’s the thing. Failure can actually be a precursor to success. How do 5,126 failed prototypes sound to you? Enough to give up? That’s not what the inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner did.
Take heart from the fact that entrepreneurs who failed at their first attempts at entrepreneurship learn so much from the experience that they tend to succeed in their next attempt.
- Learn from others
Once again, this is part of the benefit of being young in this day and age – there is loads of information online about people just like you who had an idea and ran with it.
For inspiration on the entrepreneurial journey, what you can expect, and how others have coped, read the stories of other young entrepreneurs. If at all possible, contact one that interests you and see if you can make a connection. It’s always helpful to learn from other successful teen entrepreneurs.
These days anybody can become an entrepreneur, the world has become fertile ground for young people with the initiative and grit to start a business from scratch.
Armed with the necessary tech skills and the right mindset coupled with the low barriers to starting a company, teenagers are in a position to create amazing products and services that could change the world.