Every entrepreneurial journey is unique. Not everyone starts from the same place or wants the same things. However, there are certain similarities that all journeys have in common. As a young entrepreneur, you’ll face some of the same obstacles that others have faced. When that happens, learn from their experience and try these proven strategies for overcoming business obstacles.
OBSTACLE: LOSS OF MOTIVATION
The first few steps of your entrepreneurial journey can be exhilarating! You’re full of ideas, ambition, and energy. Your future looks good. You’re full of hope and optimism.
But then, reality kicks in. You learn that you can’t go from idea to profit overnight. There’s a business plan to write. Capital to raise. Marketing strategies to create. Customers to deal with. Possibly teams to build. Pretty soon, your awesome idea might feel less like a fun side hustle and more like work.
STRATEGY: REMEMBER YOUR “WHY”
Think back to those early days when you were so excited by your idea that you couldn’t wait to get started. What was your motivation? What were your goals? What problem were you determined to solve? Whose lives were you going to make better?
Remembering why you started this enterprise in the first place will help you reboot your motivation. Think of all your satisfied customers. Think of all the success you’ll earn. Think of how good you’ll feel when you reach your goals.
OBSTACLE: YOUR BUSINESS ISN’T MAKING SALES
Listen, it happens. Sometimes the market isn’t ready for what you have to offer. Sometimes a global emergency forces businesses to step back, reevaluate, and pivot. There are plenty of reasons why a product or service doesn’t sell. It might be you, it might be the market, it might be things far beyond your control.
STRATEGY: GET CREATIVE (AND CHECK YOUR EGO)
First things first: figure out why you’re not making sales. Some common reasons include:
- You need a better website
- You need better marketing
- You’re targeting the wrong customers
- You’re not properly selling the benefits of your product or service
Once you figure out why your product isn’t selling, you can take steps to fix it. The problem may be as simple as low-quality photos on your website or as complicated as finding your target audience. The important takeaway is to be brutally honest with yourself about what’s bringing you down so you can fix it.
OBSTACLE: RUNNING OUT OF MONEY
According to PreferredCFO, 82% of startups fail because of cashflow problems. In other words, entrepreneurs don’t consider how much money they’ll actually need to launch their startup and keep it going in the early days. There are unforeseen expenses. For young entrepreneurs who’ve never started a business before, it can be easy to underestimate how much money you’ll need to invest before you break even.
STRATEGY: MAKE A BUDGET
You don’t need a Ph.D. in economics to make a simple business budget. There are free online first-year budget calculators to help you estimate your startup costs. A simple Excel spreadsheet can keep you on track.
A budget should be part of your business plan anyway. It’s something you’ll have to show investors when you pitch to them. You don’t have to budget down to the penny, but do your research to get some idea of how much it will cost.
OBSTACLE: BURNING OUT
Burnout is real, and it’s not just for adults who work 80 hours a week. Young entrepreneurs can burn out from trying to accomplish too much too soon and with too few resources. Signs of burnout include:
- Exhaustion (not just normal tired, but full-body, can’t function, exhaustion)
- Body aches
- Lack of joy or happiness in the things and people you love
High-achieving, college-bound young entrepreneurs like you are especially susceptible to burnout. And you can’t run a successful business if you’re so burnt out that you barely function anymore.
“Self-care” is one of those terms that gets tossed around a lot, but what does it mean?
For one thing, self-care looks different for everyone. Your friend might enjoy yoga and meditation, but you fall asleep.
Secondly, self-care should not become yet one more thing on your plate that stresses you out. Self-care should be simple, easy, effective, and something you look forward to.
Some self-care ideas:
- Going for a short walk
- Reading for pleasure
- Taking a short nap
- Watching funny YouTube videos
- A long, hot bath
- Going to a movie
Find what works for you and try to incorporate it into your life when you feel yourself starting to lose control.
OBSTACLE: LACK OF CLEAR GOALS
Saying you want to become a young entrepreneur is great, but what happens next? What does being a young entrepreneur mean to you? Without a clear goal, you could find yourself treading water. Not really going anywhere or getting anything done. Constantly changing your mind. Changing your plans. Always returning to step 1.
When this happens, you might feel overwhelmed by the many possibilities ahead of you. You might suffer from decision fatigue, unable to make even the smallest choices. This will affect your enterprise. Without knowing where to aim, you’ll expend your energy on things that don’t matter.
STRATEGY: CREATE TARGETS AND OBJECTIVES
Go beyond your basic business plan and create a timeline of targets to hit and objectives to aim for. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Start with something like, “Come up with a business name by September 1.” You have a clear objective and a target date to get it done.
Make a list of the most basic steps you need to do to get your business up and running. These include:
- Figuring out what product or service you will offer
- Why that product or service
- The logistics of making a prototype or gathering materials
- Online presence
- Target customers
By sitting down and writing it all out, you’re already getting your mind organized so you can focus your time and energy.
No matter the business obstacle you meet on your entrepreneurial journey, there’s always a way around it!
Young entrepreneurs who attend high school in Florida may be eligible for a Kantner Foundation college scholarship. Click here to learn about what we offer and how to apply.