You young entrepreneurs have the unique ability to take advantage of the extra time you have on your hands to figure out how to be successful at a startup. Here are a few tips we’ve compiled to help you on your way to becoming a successful high school entrepreneur:
1. Get comfortable taking risks. Face it—nobody can see the future. No matter how carefully you plan and how closely you stick to your plan, you can’t guarantee your desired outcome. And frankly, that’s okay. Entrepreneurship requires you to be willing to take necessary risks and venture into the unknown. You may feel that you are lacking in experience or knowledge, but self-doubt and worry about outcomes will only hinder your success. Don’t be afraid to try something new and overcome your fear and inadequacies. Be smart about the risks you take, but don’t be afraid of them.
2. Make advantageous connections. If you can save yourself some time and trouble by learning from others’ experiences, take advantage of that. Reach out to entrepreneurs of all ages and all backgrounds. Individuals in your own field of interest can provide you with valuable insight into the dos and don’ts of starting a business. Use social media, online networking tools like LinkedIn, and old-fashioned meet-and-greet appointments and telephone conversations to connect with potential mentors and colleagues. Many of those who have experience are more than willing to help students just starting out, so don’t be afraid to ask. Effective networking will give you resources now and in the future. Take a look at Derek Coburn’s book to learn about one way to establish connections that will boost your success.
3. Be ready to learn—it’s okay to start over
There are really only three paths a business can take. A business can fall into a cyclical pattern—getting off to a great start but then declining to the point where the business ends up right back where it started, or even lower. A business can also get off to a great start but then plateau, no longer growing but rather just maintaining the status quo. The third path, and obviously the one that everyone wants their business to take, is steady growth until the business takes off with a bang, skyrocketing into ongoing and increasing success. Most entrepreneurship fall into the cyclical pattern, as difficult as that may be to accept. But it is far better to fail and start again from the beginning, either with an entirely new idea or entirely new plans that will hopefully bring more success than it is to take the stagnation route. The important thing is to learn from each fall to ensure eventual success with a sustainable business concept and plans. When you find yourself back at your starting point, throw yourself back in the game with knowledge and insight that you didn’t have the last time.
4. Do something you care about. There are a lot of options out there for new startups—technology that could benefit the world, gadgets that would be useful to many, and much, much more. But ultimately, if you don’t have any passion for what you are doing, you will more than likely lose interest in your plan and motivation to see it through. With the amount of time and energy you will need to put into your startup, you need to find something that is worthwhile to you. If you have multiple entrepreneurs you are working with, it’s important to find a mission that you all are passionate about. This will ensure consistent effort from everyone on the team. Now, while you’re young, is the time to experiment with your interests and talents and find that thing that you are really passionate about bringing to the world. Read this article for some great tips on finding your passion.
As a high school student venturing into the realm of entrepreneurship, you have a unique opportunity to apply your creative mind and youthful energy to launch a startup that can change the world. Take advantage of that. Take risks, make connections, learn from your mistakes, and, perhaps most importantly, find and focus on your passion.
Find out more about the Kantner Foundation’s commitment to young entrepreneurs, including our college scholarships for high school students, by clicking here.