Always remember that while you may lack the corporate experience that some company leaders have, you have an endless amount of tools and resources available to you that can support you and your company in the years to come.
Starting a business can be challenging no matter what your age, lifestyle, or background may be. It takes great maturity, self-awareness, and commitment to pull a dream down to reality and make it happen. For many successful entrepreneurs, they have had the privilege of working within their particular industry before ever imagining their own business. This gives them a slew of insight and experience that serves as a foundation and can then be applied to their own company. However, entrepreneurs who are younger in age typically miss out on this opportunity to gain experience because of their obligations to school or extra-curricular activities.
Luckily, as the world changes more and more each day, more resources are becoming available to educate young entrepreneurs on what it takes to start and grow their business. So to get yourself going, try these tips below to assist you in starting your own business.
Do Your Research
Arguably one of the most important steps in starting any new venture is to do research. Doing so before you start your company will help to give you a foundational understanding of the business world and your particular industry. In return, this basic knowledge will allow you to make more informed and purposeful decisions for your company in the future.
You can begin by looking into your state’s legal regulations when it comes to starting a business. These rules can vary from state to state however, generally speaking, you will have to register your business, select your business’s structure (sole proprietorship, Limited Liability Company, or a corporation), and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN), if applicable. There also may be other licenses, permits, or insurance plans you will need to look into depending on your industry.
In addition to the legality of starting a business, it is also important to examine your industry and direct competitors. Start by diving into the history of your industry and how it has evolved to what it is today. Look at some specific leaders in your field and hypothesize what decisions and projects were made and executed that ultimately brought them to success. Lastly, explore today’s market in full detail and thoroughly analyze your competitors and target audience. Doing so will help you to pinpoint how you can make your product or service most impactful to customers/clients and profitable for your business.
Operate as a Business
Typically, when inexperienced entrepreneurs decide to take the leap and start up a company, they often take a lackadaisical approach and tend to their company when it’s most convenient to them. Especially as the only employee, it can be very easy to push your business to the back burner as other parts of life take over. However, much like any other job, you must adopt a schedule of some sort. Not only does this help to provide you with some personal structure, but it also allows you to commit time to your business’s needs.
Start by developing a business plan. Create an in-depth strategy as to how your business will operate based on the research you’ve gathered. Outline where your strengths lie and how you will combat any potential weaknesses or threats. Illustrate your plan for marketing and advertising and if needed, try to develop your own consistent brand image as well. All of these things help you to set an expectation early on so nothing falls off your radar as you grow.
In addition to planning, you must create a system for execution as well. For older generations who have worked in corporate America before, this may be easier since they can model after a past employer’s production strategy. However, for any young entrepreneurs, it may be simplest to start by producing through sprints. Sprints are a common production tactic used to address an initiative within a certain timeframe. For example, if you want to protect your company’s ideas by getting a trademark, you can aim to complete that within a 60-day sprint. Then, you can decide how often to check-in on the progress for that initiative in order to hold yourself accountable–even as the only employee.
Source Outside Assistance
One of the biggest mistakes that young, inexperienced entrepreneurs make is trying to tackle everything on their own. A business is not always a walk in the park and really does take a “village” to build. This is why it is so important to source some additional help where needed.
For example, you may find it beneficial to invest in a financial advisor or lawyer to assist you through legal matters. Of course this need can depend greatly on the size of your company, the type of industry, and its particular legal requirements. However, for client-facing businesses like a personal training company, a lawyer may be helpful early on to help prevent any potential lawsuits. Conversely, a small clothing business that doesn’t typically have much risk for injury or harm to customers may not have the same need.
As a young entrepreneur, it is very important to examine other companies and really dissect their business strategies to see if there are any successes that you can model after.
For example, delivery services have become some of the fastest growing businesses in recent years and as an aspiring business owner, it may be helpful to look into why that is. A company like Gopuff who got its start from two young college students, Rafael Ilishayev and Yakir Gola, has grown to a $15 billion dollar business in just eight years. The young men’s eagerness and commitment to the brand early on allowed them to see great success in such a short amount of time.
Similarly, the late, great Mike Kittrege who founded Yankee Candle was only sixteen when he started the business. While his company’s growth came at a much steadier pace than Gopuff, he’s built a legacy that is lasting beyond his years and today, the company has over 300 stores across North America.
Looking for success stories like these can certainly give you the boost of confidence you need to get started. But again, always look deeper to find the source of their success to help you in your own strategy. While these companies may help you to develop your plan, there is no one-size-fits-all for successful businesses so always be ready to adapt.
Another large requirement in running any successful business is patience. Many times inexperienced entrepreneurs face the harsh realities of their naivety because they often believe that their company will be the one to hit a million dollars in revenue in year one. While that may be in the cards for some businesses, that’s not everyone’s story. Typically, entrepreneurs are working and waiting solely off the strength of their passion and belief in their company, but without patience, you won’t be able to withstand the stagnant seasons.
If patience doesn’t come naturally to you, a business mentor may be the way to go. Having someone there to bring sense to your frustrations and provide guidance where needed may help to distract you from the wait. But as you grow and learn more as an entrepreneur, you will learn that the best things take time and if you truly believe in your business, you need to be willing to take all the time necessary to see success.
As a young entrepreneur, you will have such a unique journey and perspective when it comes to starting a business. You may face challenges that are unique to you however, studies have shown that young people are still positioned for success in business. Gen Z specifically is being deemed the most entrepreneurial generation yet because of its 62% of individuals owning or planning to start their own businesses. As a generation, they are showing so much independence and creativity that is allowing them to blossom into successful entrepreneurs. So, always remember that while you may lack the corporate experience that some company leaders have, you have an endless amount of tools and resources available to you that can support you and your company in the years to come.