When most young people share their plans of starting their own business, you will not be hard-pressed to find those from the older generation raising one knowing eyebrow and making a wry smile.
It takes more than talk to build a successful business from scratch and for those without much experience the challenges are magnified ten-fold. But starting out young is the best situation for entrepreneurs because time will be on their side.
Here are a few ways in how young entrepreneurs can launch their first start-up.
1. Don’t fear failure. Take a Risk!
You cannot be an entrepreneur unless you are willing to take a risk; it’s not an advice, it’s the truth. Entrepreneurs by nature are risk-takers. They don’t sit on the fence or look outside the dining table day-dreaming. Entrepreneurs are pro-active on their business ideas. If you take risks, accepting failure goes hand-in-hand.
Entrepreneurs read failure from a different filter. Of course, the idea of failure can be daunting but for committed entrepreneurs, failure is a guide along the journey; a constant reminder to stay focused. Realize that failure is your everyday companion. It lurks behind every decision you make and often, from the most unlikely sources. You should not think about failure constantly; but be mindful that it is part of being an entrepreneur.
2. Learn from your mistakes.
If you do experience failure, credit it to lack of experience. Learn from it and move on. Here’s a fact. No one can teach you all about entrepreneurship. Schools, forums, the so-called gurus and other sources of information can only give you the theoretical aspects and the principles of entrepreneurship. Your classroom is the world of business and the market is your teacher.
As you go through your experiences, you will realize the market is not perfect; it is irrational because it is influenced by the unpredictable behavior of the consumers. Thus, you will experience mistakes which essentially are the lessons you learn. Every single one of the most successful business leaders; Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Ma, Howard Schultz, all experienced massive amounts of failure before they attained unprecedented success. You will always be in good company when it comes to making mistakes.
3. Conduct thorough research.
Perhaps one of the biggest flaws of being a young entrepreneur is lacking discipline. You need discipline to build structure in your organization. Part of this structure is to conduct thorough research. An idea is nothing until you develop its underlying substance. You need empirical data to verify if your idea is viable. There are three (3) studies that you have to undertake:
a. Market study. Determines the target market and if there is demand for your proposed product or service.
b. Marketing Study. Outlines your approach in reaching your target market.
c. Feasibility Study. Presents your transaction flows and if the project is viable.
Collectively these 3 studies make up your central blueprint for your business; the most important document that oversees and becomes the reference point in how all the pieces will come together: Your Business Plan.
4. Secure funding.
All business requires a certain measure of funding. There are two (2) types of capital that you will need: pre-operating capital and working capital.
Pre-Operating covers your capitalization expenses to get your business started. These may include computers, hardware, software, internet deposits, furniture and other items that have direct relation to your business. Working capital covers your expenses to maintain the business for at least six (6) months.
Some businessmen like billionaire Mark Cuban encourage start-ups to use savings to fund enterprises. But if your savings is not enough to fund your business and your day-to-day, here are other options you can consider.
a. Crowd sourcing. These are online platforms that raise minimal amounts of capital from various sources. Australia’s number of crowd sourcing companies is slowly increasing. The most popular one is Pozible.
b. Partners. If you have people who are right-fit with your business model, you can have them on-board as investing partners.
c. Investors. There are some entrepreneurs who present their business plans to venture capitalists who are always willing to invest in a great idea.
Please take note that you will not have much of a chance securing third-party funding without a Business Plan!
5. Networking should be a priority.
The biggest hurdle for any entrepreneur is landing that all important first client. This is why networking should be a priority activity from the get-go. There are two (2) ways to network and you should use them both:
a. Digital Networking. These include online marketing tools and processes such as social media, link building, SEO techniques, blogging and Pay-Per-Click advertising among others.
b. Traditional Networking. This is essentially old-school marketing. You should attend networking events that cater to your business and target market. Make sure to have calling cards and brochures all the time.
Before anything else, it is absolutely important to have a mobile responsive website running before you undertake any networking activity. Your website is the digital hub that grants you access to three (3) billion internet users every day. The purpose of these marketing endeavors is to drive prospects to your website for sales conversion.
6. Build your brand right away.
A crucial mistake by most entrepreneurs is their failure to work on their brand thinking business should happen first before. In reality, business will not happen unless you establish your brand to your market.
Your brand is not just your logo; it represents who you are and what you represent to your market. As Nobel Prize winner psychologist Daniel Kahneman revealed in his study on consumer marketing, people are more concerned with identifying with who you are than what you are selling. People want to know if they are aligned with what you represent. Emotional connectivity drives brand patronage.
To build your brand, make an honest assessment of your five (5) non-negotiable core values and these should become the cornerstones of your business. From here you can conceptualize your purpose and vision. Aligned values, purpose and vision are the prime materials of what your brand is because they make up the most important component of your business: YOU.
Starting a business will always be a daunting prospect for anyone regardless of age. But as long as you stay focused on what you want to do and what you want to accomplish, the rest remains on one key factor which all successful entrepreneurs share: Persistence.