This Volusion blog post provides some basic resources for young entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business. The main takeaways are to look to others for inspiration and ideas, put together a solid business foundation and reach out to others in the entrepreneurial community. The opportunity for start-up success is huge for the youth generation!
ATTENTION MEMBERS OF GENERATION Y: In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been getting a really bad rap lately. Some have even called us the “Lost Generation,” claiming that we haven’t done our part to help better our society. One popular mention among older generations is that we don’t contribute enough to the rebuilding of the economy – that we don’t have the “entrepreneurial spirit.”
Those words are tough to listen to, right? Especially when we know they’re not necessarily all true. Sure, we love our wireless devices a little too much and probably shouldn’t watch Jersey Shore so much, but to state that this generation’s not helping isn’t completely fair. There are millions of young entrepreneurs out there working to make a difference, and their impact is huge.
Just think of a few examples:
- Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. Zuckerberg was born in 1984 and founded one of the world’s most popular websites in his Harvard dorm room in 2004. The company is raking in millions of dollars in advertising spend each year.
- Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter. Dorsey launched the mega social networking site at the young age of 30 back in 2006. Now, major celebrities, children and grandparents are tweeting at an ever growing rate.
- Even our very own, Volusion CEO Kevin Sproles, started our company when in high school. And now we’re the most-awarded ecommerce solution with 2 offices and over 100 employees!
For even more inspiration and examples, check out BusinessWeek’s 2009 Finalists for Best Young Entrepreneurs in America.
Clearly, the possibilities are endless. Whether you’re wanting to open an online business or start off in retail, consulting or anything else, the opportunity is greater than ever to discover a need and capitalize on it. And if you’re thinking about joining the ranks of a growing army of young entrepreneurs, here’s a basic outline of how to get started:
- Decide on your business offering. What is your business going to be about and what are you going to be offering? The cardinal rules are to run with something you’re passionate about (you’ll be doing this for several years once it takes off) and to make sure you find a need that several consumers share. Your business idea should fill that need.
- Create your business plan and proposal. Great ideas fall by the wayside far too often because of a lack of thought and preparation in the early stages. Do some research and put together a business plan that walks through the major facets of business (finance, marketing, relationships, goals, etc.) Then, turn that business plan into a business proposal so you can legitimately present it to potential partners.
- Find the right collaborators. No man (or woman) is an island, and this is particularly true for young entrepreneurs. Start networking to engage mentors and experts in their respective fields. Their advice and experience, mixed with your great idea, will join forces to work wonders.
- Acquire funding. One of the biggest hurdles for young people getting started with a successful business is to find the right funding for it. Let’s face it – you’re likely to struggle a bit at first. But once you prove yourself, determine whether you want to take a bank loan, work with a venture capitalist or find another source of funding. In order to grow, you’ll need some cash.
- Work, market. Work, market. Once you have your plan, partners and funding in place, start working like crazy. The early stages are critical to building the foundation of success – so make sure you’re getting your name out there to the right people.
No matter what stage of the process you’re in, make sure to reach out to others in the growing community of young entrepreneurs. There are tons of useful online resources available to share ideas and best practices. Here are two of my favorites:
- Entrepreneur Connect: Build your profile, add your products to the marketplace, and connect with several groups, including young entrepreneurs like yourself.
- Young Entrepreneur: Brush up on articles, blogs and utilize the user forums for advice.
So what are we waiting for? Let’s get to selling and put an end to this reputation that has befallen our generation. Young people have some of the most innovative ideas out there, especially in this blossoming technological world. All we need to do is meet our great ideas with even greater effort. And heck, retiring before 40 would be nice, wouldn’t it?
-Matt Winn, Marketing Associate
Are you a young entrepreneur? Do you have any questions about launching your business? Care to share any advice? Did you start your business in your younger years and have any wisdom to share with this generation? What are your thoughts on the entrepreneurial efforts of today’s young people? How has the process of starting a business changed over the years? Anything else you’d like to add? Let us know below!