Writing in Harvard Business Review, noted management thinker Whitney Johnson asserts that today’s young people — especially teens — are more entrepreneurial than ever before.
“A whopping 70% [of teens have] jobs that are best described as self-employed,” she says.
In other words, seven out of ten teens can accurately be described as small business owners.
Their older peers are entrepreneurial too. Lots of enterprising young people start their first, second or third businesses in their 20s, many while still in college.
Young entrepreneurs face a unique mix of challenges and opportunities. Those who follow these simple success tips are more likely to excel — and might just serve as inspiration for the next generation of young business leaders.
1. Have a Clear Vision
Although it doesn’t have to be set in stone from the outset, it helps to have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish. Before you put too much work into your new venture, sit down and sketch out where you’d like to be in one, three and five years from now. Use quantitative benchmarks, which make it easier to compare the reality of your performance to your expectations.
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2. Be Willing to Work Long Hours
Successful entrepreneurs work hard. When you’re just starting out, you’ll need to address a lot of the ins and outs of your business on your own.To do so effectively, you’ll no doubt put in long hours.
“Take pride in your work ethic,” says Florida business owner George Otte. “It’s what sets you apart from peers. Your focus and hard work will demonstrate discipline and leadership; both important attributes for any successful entrepreneur.”
Remember, entrepreneurs tend to work hardest when they’re just starting out. Once you have a team in place under you, you can adjust your schedule accordingly.
3. Challenge Yourself to Do More
Every week, set one “reach” challenge for yourself — a difficult, but realistic, goal that you can achieve by going the extra mile. At the end of each quarter, note how many of these challenges you’ve achieved. Push yourself to do even better the following quarter.
4. Look for Mentors Among Your Peers
Most young entrepreneurs instinctively look to the older generation for advice and support. But it’s also important to cultivate mutually beneficial relationships and mentor-mentee arrangements within your peer group.
“It’s critical to celebrate and lift your peers,” says entrepreneur Geneva S. Thomas. “That girl standing next to you could be the one to hire you in five years, or could be the one contact at a major brand whose sponsor dollars you need.”
5. Keep Your Expenses Low
Many young entrepreneurs have limited resources. Stretch your startup capital farther by trading services and favors whenever possible, negotiating lower rates with vendors and suppliers, and holding off on permanent hires until you have a steady source of funding.
6. Learn from Your Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes. What matters is recognizing them as they happen and learning from them once they’ve occurred. Keep a list of business-related mistakes close at hand to ensure you don’t make the same error twice.
7. Lean on Friends and Family for Advice and Financial Support
Your friends-and-family network is a vital resource for moral support, practical advice and startup funding. People who know and love you are likely to be more generous with their time and resources than professional mentors or traditional lenders.
Are you a young entrepreneur? What’s the one piece of advice you’d give your peers? Please share with our readers below.