Every entrepreneurial journey is unique, including yours. Yet there are a few qualities that every young entrepreneur must embrace to maximize their chances of success. These qualities have been collected from the experience of countless successful entrepreneurs of the past. And though your ideas are no doubt innovative and forward-thinking, here are a few tips that are never outdated.
1. Follow Your Passion, Not the Money
Starting a new business will take up a lot of your time and energy. Keeping it running and making it successful will require a major commitment from you. Why would you invest yourself so much into something you don’t truly love?
Choosing a field or industry that speaks to you will help keep you motivated when you feel worn out, tired, or frustrated. You’re much more likely to stick with your enterprise even during the tough times, rather than asking yourself why you bother with this.
Additionally, when you feel passionate about the work you’re doing, that excitement will naturally leak out of you and get picked up by your team, your investors, and your customers.
2. Take Advantage of Networking and Mentorship Opportunities
There may be times during your entrepreneurial career when you feel like you are all alone, or that you are the only person who understands the problems you face. This is where networking and mentorships come in.
Networking can be as wide or as narrow as you are comfortable with. You can hit up events near your town, attend webinars, or join major organizations such as the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). A quick search on Facebook, Reddit, or Instagram will also turn up online groups created just for young entrepreneurs.
Through networking, you’ll meet peers who can help you, and whom you can help. You can join teams or create one of your own. You can also find mentors to guide you through the process. Programs such as Launch Generation provide young entrepreneurs with training, teams, and mentors all in one.
3. Stay Focused and Believe in Yourself
You began this journey because you had a vision. Keep that vision in mind as things get tough. Write yourself an inspirational note to read down the road when you feel like you are facing a setback. Surround yourself with quotes from successful entrepreneurs.
There will be times when believing in your vision will seem hopeless, and that’s where you need to stay focused most of all. Remember that entrepreneurship is a process, not a perfect.
Remaining focused on your goal will pull you back on track when you encounter inevitable obstacles and setbacks. You know you’ll get there…even if you have to remind yourself of that fact every once in a while.
4. Know Your Market and Competition
Some questions to ask yourself as you build your enterprise: where does my idea fit in the current market? What problems am I solving? Who is already out there doing something similar, and how am I different? How will I attract customers?
The answers to all of these questions can best be answered with a little legwork and planning. Do a Google search for your company’s name, or something close to it, and click around to see what others have already established in your field. What do their customers enjoy? What are the most common complaints? Figure out your target audience and customize your business plan to them.
Let’s say you want to start a lawn-mowing business. You love being outdoors and you love the physicality of mowing lawns. But what if three other teens on your street mow lawns for money? Is there a place for you in that market? Rather than giving up on your idea, find a creative solution that works for you: maybe you team up with those other kids and work together. If you have a car, perhaps you offer your service in another neighborhood.
5. Communication Skills
A good entrepreneur knows how to talk to a wide variety of people, as well as how to listen. The way you present yourself and your business on your GoFundMe page will not be the same way you present yourself in your customer newsletters. You may even tweak your message a little bit each time you post on a different social media app.
Becoming good at adjusting your message depending on your audience may be a skill you need to learn. One of the best ways to learn how to become an effective communicator is to be a good listener. Look people in the eye when you speak to them in person. Address them by name. Make sure you clearly state that you understand what they are saying and have a plan to address their concern. If you don’t have an answer to something, say, “I will find out for you,” – and then follow-up on that ASAP. Take people seriously and take yourself seriously. Be polite.
When people feel listened to, they feel respected. When they feel respected, they are much more likely to invest in your product, pay for your product, and join your team.
6. Take Action
You won’t know whether your business plan works until you get it up and running. Sure, you’ll make mistakes, and sure, there will be problems you could not possibly have foreseen. None of these are reasons to hold yourself back.
Success can’t happen in a vacuum. You will never realize your goal if you never make that leap of faith. Do your best to prepare and then take that first step, no matter how scary or uncomfortable.
Brian Cox started his first business when he was in 7th grade. He’s now the entrepreneur behind two successful businesses that have partnered with companies such as Edible Arrangements and TeeSpring and have been featured in magazines such as Forbes and Entrepreneur. Brian says:
“Talk is cheap. It’s easy to make it look like you’re doing a lot, when really all you’re really doing is talking about the things you want to do. A lot of people start businesses without planning any proper course of action, and things tend to fall apart. You need to know exactly how you’re going to make something happen before you tell people you’re going to do it. Customers lose confidence in businesses that talk but never act.”
7. Re-invest in Yourself
Once you are up and running, use some of the profit you make to improve and grow your business. Young entrepreneurs are naturals at innovating and disrupting, so that will come in handy. Don’t let yourself settle for stagnating in your comfort zone. You didn’t get this business started by being content with the status quo!
Some ways you can re-invest in yourself and your business include: hiring a team, expanding your territory, buying ads, or adding more services and products to your line. This isn’t you being selfish, it’s just good business.
The journey of a young entrepreneur is one of constant learning and adjustment. With a healthy dose of self-confidence and a willingness to problem-solve, the journey will take you to unimagined heights of success!
Young entrepreneurs who attend high school in Florida may be eligible for a Kantner Foundation college scholarship. Click here to learn about what we offer and how to apply.