What is entrepreneurship? And what does it mean to be a young entrepreneur?
First of all, entrepreneurship can be defined in many ways. But for our sake, we’ll keep it simple and say that entrepreneurship, “is a blanket term related to starting a business.” If you get paid to babysit, you’re an entrepreneur. If you make money selling homemade candles, you’re an entrepreneur.
Secondly, even the “young” part of the term “young entrepreneur” can be defined in different ways. Every year, Forbes magazine celebrates its “30 Under 30,” meaning entrepreneurs under 30 years old. The Young Entrepreneur Council is open to any entrepreneurs 45 or younger. However, here at The Kantner Foundation, we aim to educate, inspire, and help teen entrepreneurs like you!
In this piece, when we discuss “young entrepreneurship,” we mean high school students making money through offering a service or selling a product.
CAN ANYONE BECOME A YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR?
Short answer: yes!
Long answer: yes, and here’s why.
While jumping onto the entrepreneurial path may seem intimidating, the fact is, anyone can do it. Forget fancy business degrees or advanced classes in marketing. You don’t even know how to make or do anything! Entrepreneurship, by its very definition, is something anyone can do.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO START A BUSINESS?
There are 2 things absolutely everyone needs to become a young entrepreneur: inspiration, and drive.
First comes inspiration. Ask yourself:
- Is there a problem I can solve?
- Is there a product I can sell?
- Is there a service I can provide?
- Is there a way I can make life simpler/happier/healthier/more economical for people?
- Can I make money doing something I love?
Not everyone wants to make and sell bookmarks, and that’s fine. There are still plenty of ways a savvy teen like you can start a business. Think about something you already do. If you help your older relatives get online and stay connected, you might consider turning that into a business for other seniors. If you spend hours creating virtual items, maybe you can sell those in games like Roblox. And sometimes entrepreneurship is simply being a connection between two points of service, like starting a website where people can donate clothes in good condition and others can buy those clothes.
Second, comes drive. We’re not going to sugar-coat this: the road to entrepreneurship is filled with challenges, detours, and obstacles. Without the drive to keep going, you’ll never find success as a young entrepreneur. It takes commitment and passion. Successful entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. Think you have what it takes to hang in there?
HOW TO GET STARTED IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Beyond inspiration and drive, you’ll need to actually, you know, do the work it takes to become a young entrepreneur.
Let’s say your inspiration is that you love music and want to offer your services to families with young children as a private piano instructor. Let’s look at the basics of that idea:
- You are offering a service, as opposed to a product or connection.
- Your target market is families with children between the ages of 4 and 12.
Now, how are you going to offer your services? You’ll need to position yourself in a way that proves you are the best choice for private piano instructors for young children.
- You’ve been playing piano for 10 years now.
- You’ve won serval competitions.
- You’ve spent the last 2 summers working with children at camps.
- You have a professional but portable keyboard for in-person lessons at your students’ homes.
These are all examples of the advantages you offer that other instructors may not have available.
RESEARCH AND PLAN
This may seem like an unnecessary step for something as simple as teaching piano, but you’ll thank us later.
What do you need to research?
- The average cost of piano lessons in your area.
- How to work with different age groups.
- Where to find affordable instruction books.
- Your transportation options for going to students’ homes.
The first point is important. Pricing your services too low can seem unprofessional, like you don’t take yourself seriously enough. It could also prevent you from making a profit – or breaking even. However, pricing your services too high will drive customers away. Take the time to find out what the going rate is for in-home music lessons around you. What qualifications do the other instructors have that lets them charge what they do? What sort of “value” can they provide their clients? You may not have an MFA in music education like some of your adult competitors, but if you can offer weekend lessons and they can’t, that’s value you can add.
Everything you research and figure out should be written down in the form of a lean business plan. No need to get super fancy. Just make sure you keep your information and ideas in one place so you can return to them as you face those challenges we mentioned above.
READY, SET, LAUNCH!
Time to take that leap of faith and launch your business! There are tons of marketing tips out there, but most of it you’ll learn through trial and error. Remain professional at all times in business. And, of course, don’t forget to enjoy your success!
Any one of you could be the next Steve Jobs or Emmett Shear. The fact that you’re lucky enough to grow up in a world that’s more interconnected than ever makes it easy to find the resources you need to get started. There are books on business and entrepreneurship to educate you. There are podcasts you can listen to for regular updates on the world of entrepreneurship. Create a LinkedIn profile and start following hashtags like, “entrepreneurship” and “startup.” Check out free online resources such as Rising Innovator and Mighty. And, of course, keep checking in with The Kantner Foundation blog for advice and inspiration on everything from managing stress to scoring an internship.
There are so many benefits to young entrepreneurship. One of the most important is that it will teach you to believe in yourself and trust your instincts. And no amount of business degrees will give you that.
Young entrepreneurs in Florida may be eligible for a Kantner Foundation college scholarship. Click here to learn about what we have to offer and how to apply.