The world needs you! Young entrepreneurs are the future of business. There’s no better time to move forward with your startup than right now.
Before diving into the business world headfirst with your eyes closed, slow down, take a deep breath, and read the steps below. This won’t slow you down as much as you might worry it will. In fact, some of these steps should take only a few minutes. When you start your business fully prepared, you are more likely to see the success you dream of – and deserve.
1. Pick Your Idea
The Kantner Foundation knows that as a bright, ambitious young entrepreneur you are likely full of outstanding ideas for how to change the world. One of the first things you’ll need to do right now is narrow your focus down to one idea. A great way to figure out which idea is the winning one will be to stop and think about the following:
- What are you good at?
- What do you love?
- What is the exact problem you are trying to solve?
By doing something that both plays to your natural strengths as well as your passion, you are more likely to stick with your new enterprise.
While you are thinking and reflecting, narrow down your focus even further and ask yourself what specific problem you want to solve. Right now, you might already be involved in clubs and organizations that speak to what you love doing, or you might already be taking classes for your future college major. What is something you already see in your field that can be improved?
2. Do Your Research
Take a little bit of time to look into other businesses that have tried to solve this same problem so that you don’t reinvent the wheel. Where did they go wrong? What did they get right? How can you improve on what’s already been done?
Your market research should also include what the demand for your product or service will be. There is no point in starting a business that will fall on its face because no one really wants it.
Listen to your peers: is everyone unhappy with the same aspect of how a fundraiser has been run in the past few years? If so, your unique solution may be a success!
This isn’t to say you should doubt yourself or your idea; rather, before going through the time and effort to start your business, set yourself up for success by making sure there are customers out there who want what you are going to sell.
3. Create Your Brand
One of the best ways to get your small business off and running is with an attention-getting, memorable brand. Brainstorm several names and run them by friends, family, and mentors before you choose The One. Most professional branding advice will tell you to use a name that won’t be easily confused with existing brand names; for example, it’s not a great idea to name your ride-sharing company Lifft.
You can always make up a word, but be certain it’s not too complicated, difficult to remember, or hard to pronounce. Portmanteaus are fun and can describe your company well, such as Yelp (yellow pages + help).
Once you’ve chosen a name, pick a color that will represent your brand. Colors are easily spotted and remembered. There is a psychology behind how people react to different colors, so choose wisely and think about what emotions you want to evoke in your customers.
Your brand should be used across all platforms as you set up your business. This way you’ll be easy to find in internet searches, easy to spot out in the wild, and easy to remember.
4. Make a Budget
Not all businesses require venture capital to get started. If you plan on becoming a tutor, for example, that’s something you can do for almost free (minus the cost of transportation). As you prepare to launch your company, consider whether or not you already have the resources you need. No point in raising funds if everything you require is at your fingertips!
To start a business that does require financing upfront, figure out how much you really need first. Maybe you’ve been saving up for years and are able to bootstrap your business by yourself right now: that’s fantastic! Otherwise, you’ll have to find investors who are willing to take a chance on your startup. Remember: investors expect a return, so once the money comes in, you’ll have to pay them back before you keep any profit.
5. Write Your Business Plan
Do a quick internet search for “business plan,” and you’ll see plenty out there to help you get started, including this one that’s made for young entrepreneurs like you. Why should you make a business plan? Short answer: to keep you on track.
A business plan is more than an outline of the future success you want to achieve. It’s a series of attainable goals along a realistic timeline, all aimed at your larger, ultimate goal of realizing your dream. Business plans also help you map out your financial needs every step along the way, so you aren’t blindsided.
If you need investors, a well-written business plan is your key to impressing them and convincing them to give you money. You are more likely to come across as professional and prepared with a business plan that has clearly been researched. You’ll immediately earn the respect you deserve and the financial backing you need.
While it may seem like there is a lot to do before you start your small business, none of this should take too long to finish, especially if you already have your idea. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, after all: spending a few days on the five steps above will pay off in the long run when your new business runs smoothly and efficiently.
Click here to learn how the Kantner Foundation helps young entrepreneurs by offering college scholarships to Florida high school students.