Today’s most influential startups might seem like overnight success stories. One day no one had ever heard of Uber, the next day they’re a household name. A young entrepreneur like you might wonder what these companies did to hit such a high level of success.
Is there a secret to entrepreneurship? Something no one’s telling you? What’s the difference between them and you?
The truth is, there is no difference between the world’s most successful CEOs and you. Everyone starts pretty much the same. Don’t believe us? Keep reading to unlock the 4 “secrets” common to all entrepreneurs of every level of success. There’s no code to break. No locks to pick. There’s only hard work, lots of planning, and the right entrepreneurial mindset.
The real difference between you and a successful CEO? No one knows your name…yet!
1. THERE ARE NO BAD IDEAS…AT FIRST
Success doesn’t happen by itself. All successful businesses started life as an idea. The first secret on your entrepreneurial journey is to brainstorm ideas like crazy. Every time you feel inspired, write it down somewhere. Do you see a problem you know you can solve? That’s an entrepreneurial idea. Know a way to make money doing something you love? Write it down.
At this point, there is no such thing as a “good” idea or a “bad” idea. You’re just brainstorming. Seeing what fits. Come up with as many ideas as you can. No judgments. No ratings. Just get it all out there, even the ones that sound utterly ridiculous.
Later, when you have a dozen or so ideas for startup enterprises, go back and re-consider each one. Be honest with yourself in terms of how each idea makes you feel. Is your heart in it? Without passion, you’re less likely to stick to your business idea. Do you have the time to get this off the ground – and keep it going? If you can’t see yourself giving 110%, cross it out.
2. TEST THE WATERS
You’ve come up with an idea for the best product in the world. Your widget will save the average consumer time and money. It’s affordable, helpful, and stylish.
None of that matters if no one wants to buy it.
The next secret any young entrepreneur needs to know is that there’s no success if there’s no market for your product. That’s why you must test the waters.
Ask around and find out if your friends and family would pay for your widget. Tell them your idea, including what it does and how it works. You haven’t made a widget yet – you’re merely finding out if anyone wants to buy it. Head over to social media groups, use hashtags, and be honest. Are people expressing interest in your widget? What questions do they have? How much are they willing to pay for it?
You might even go so far as to create a website for your widget. Make sure to include a phrase like, “Coming soon!” Have a sign-up page for potential customers to express their interest so you can email them as soon as your widget is ready to buy.
Testing the waters is a crucial way to make sure your business will have some success.
3. GET ORGANIZED
We’re certain you aren’t applying to colleges without a plan, right? You’re probably getting all your criteria in order before selecting which colleges might be a good fit. Collecting your information and lists of accomplishments. Attending test prep. Writing practice essays. Tailoring how you present yourself.
The same goes for planning your enterprise. Diving in head-first without a plan will only sabotage all your hard work. All good business plans include information such as:
- Marketing plans
- Operating strategies
You don’t need to spend tons of time obsessing over every single detail here. In fact, it’s good to be somewhat flexible. Especially if you are a young entrepreneur on your very first journey, leave room to change and adapt as you go along. You don’t know what you don’t know yet. There are going to be challenges and detours you can’t possibly foresee until you get there.
However, it’s smart to at least lay out the bare bones of the steps you plan to take. Know what goes first, what comes next, etc. Your business plan should be flexible, but it should also be solid enough to support you if you feel yourself start to go off track.
4. CREATE AN ENTREPRENEURIAL MINDSET
Here’s an important secret for young entrepreneurs: anyone can become a successful entrepreneur. Even if you don’t have a knack for financials. Even if you’ve never run a business before. Even if you have no idea what the heck you’re doing. All it takes is the right entrepreneurial mindset. That’s something anyone – and we mean anyone — can develop.
Think of this secret as “fake it till you make it.” Here at the Kantner Foundation, we love to say that enthusiasm is contagious. Believe in yourself and others will believe in you, too!
As you embark on your entrepreneurial journey, do your best to create a culture of positivity around your business. Without sounding too conceited or arrogant, sell yourself as a success. Let your customers know you have a winning product that will improve their lives in some way.
Be open, honest, kind, and compassionate. Respond to negativity with a positive attitude. Learn how to turn every problem or setback into a challenge to overcome.
Shift your thinking from “I don’t know what I’m doing” to “This will happen!” Your positivity will naturally leak into every aspect of your business, from acquiring investors to marketing your product.
Maybe these “secrets” seem obvious to you. However, they bear repeating and saying out loud. Anyone can become a successful entrepreneur with these 4 pieces of advice. They’re not just hollow words: they are tried-and-true keys utilized over many decades of business startups.
Remember, any advantage you can give yourself in the world of entrepreneurship is another key to success!
Will you be one of the next recipients of a Kantner Foundation college scholarship? If you are a Florida high school entrepreneur, click here to learn more!