For aspiring young entrepreneurs, the journey from idea to business success may seem a bit daunting. We know there’s a lot you’re thinking about and a lot to get done. That’s why it’s so important to surround yourself with people who can help you along the way.
You probably already have at least one of these types of people in your life, like a best friend or tech-obsessed classmate. But do your friends know about your entrepreneurial ambitions? If not, now’s the time to formally ask them if they’d like to be on your team. Not necessarily as employees. More like your cabinet of advisors specializing in one thing or another.
What types of personalities should you look out for? We’re glad you asked!
1. SOMEONE WHO SHARES YOUR VALUES
Most likely, you started your entrepreneurship journey because you have a passion for something (or someone). It could be cleaning up the local park. Or you might really love animals. Whatever the case, one of the biggest keys to successful entrepreneurship is to start with something you love.
When collecting people for your team, choose someone who shares that love and passion. Whether you are looking for a partner, a mentor, or an employee, the relationship will be much smoother if your values are aligned.
This doesn’t mean you need to agree on every single issue or have matching lifestyles. But if you intend to start a business that involves working with animals, the teammate you select shouldn’t hate cats or fear dogs.
This connection will keep you both on the same page regarding the business because you share a goal. And what’s better than one young entrepreneur going it alone? Two young entrepreneurs working together!
2. SOMEONE WHO IS QUALIFIED TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS
Mentors are huge in the world of entrepreneurship. Plenty of successful entrepreneurs credit their success to having a good mentor who coached and guided them along their journey. The purpose of a mentor is to have someone who has already been where you are and can answer your questions, offer priceless words of wisdom, and nudge you along when you get frustrated.
We know, though, that not all young entrepreneurs can get a mentor through a formal matchmaking program or summer internship. And that’s fine. A mentor doesn’t have to be someone assigned to you or with whom you’ve already worked.
The person you need on your team here is an adult who knows about business and entrepreneurship. This can be an economics teacher, the owner of a small business you frequent, a family member who runs a successful company, or anyone else you meet regularly.
This team member should be available to answer your questions. They should also be willing to do so! Before you start text bombing your CEO aunt, ask her if it’s ok for you to pick her brain for advice. Remember that these people have their own businesses and lives, so be polite when approaching them.
3. SOMEONE WHO IS OUTGOING AND CHARISMATIC
This person’s purpose is to help you brand yourself, market yourself, and sell your products. Someone who gets shy around adults probably can’t help network with the investors you need to launch your product.
Think of this person as your personal cheerleader. They have a strong voice and attract attention. They know how to talk to almost anyone in any situation. They’re confident and straightforward.
You’ll need someone like this on your team to help you make connections and sell your brand. Because they know what words and phrases grab attention, they’ll likely be able to help you develop your personal brand and write content on your website. Think of this team member as your first brand ambassador.
One caveat: make sure this team member does all the above in a positive way! The last thing you need is to start your business on the wrong foot with someone who is brash, aggressive, or inappropriate.
4. SOMEONE WHO REALLY KNOWS TECH
Although most website builders come with their own customer support, you should probably make friends with a tech geek. You know, just in case of an emergency. Someone fluent in tech can also help you build a user-friendly app for your business.
We know that no one can foresee every single tech emergency that may arise. That’s why it’s good to have this person on your team. What if the power goes out just as you were backing up your files? What if your website’s server crashes? What if you spill soda on your keyboard? For these problems and countless, unexpected others, it helps to know you have a person who can talk you through the solutions you need. Successful young entrepreneurs know when to outsource help.
From creating a spreadsheet full of formulas to keep track of your profits, to designing an eye-catching gif for your emails, your tech person will save you time. How? Because you won’t need to look up all these tutorials yourself!
5. SOMEONE WHO ISN’T INVOLVED IN YOUR STARTUP AT ALL
A best friend. A close sibling. A trusted teacher. A supportive parent.
In business and in life, we all need that one person who will be our safe place. A ride-or-die. They’ll give you a pep talk; not like your mentor or your cheerleader, but as someone who knows the real you inside and out. Someone who can say things like, “Remember that time you thought you failed, but it turned out to work in your favor so well?”
This teammate is the person in your life who knows what words to use to cheer you up, make you laugh, or calm you down. Think of inside jokes with your bestie, or your parent taking you to your favorite restaurant for dinner.
You may need to take a step back from your business now and then so you can gain some perspective or just breathe. This team member is there to help get your mind off whatever’s bothering you so you can charge back in stronger than ever.
As you progress in your journey, make sure to show gratitude for those who have helped you along. Give credit where and when it’s due. Be respectful. A little appreciation goes a long way!
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!