You are a young entrepreneur: you are driven, energetic, bright, and passionate. At your age, you are well aware of the challenges facing the world right now. Entrepreneurs like you know how to face those challenges with grit, determination, and creativity. There is absolutely no reason why you can’t take your passion and turn it into a successful project or business. Not only will this beef up your resume and college applications, but you may very well change the world.
The founder of Signify started her business using the skills she already had in a way that would do some good for small businesses. It is possible to change lives for the better (and maybe make some money?) by doing the very thing that sets your soul on fire and makes you happy.
Step 1: Be Specific
Beyond thinking to yourself, “I love helping kids,” find a specific problem you can solve and ask yourself why you want to solve it. Entrepreneur magazine calls this your “So that…” moment:
“I want to help kids learn that math can be fun so that they will grow up to become young entrepreneurs.”
That’s a little more specific. That’s your start. From there, think about realistic ways you can make this happen—while juggling school, extra-curriculars, family obligations, a social life, and anything else you have going on. There’s no point starting something so overwhelming it will interfere with everything else you are working on. Time management is vital for any young entrepreneur.
Whatever it is you decide, remember that you’re not marrying it. As you do your research and gain experience, you will have to tweak and adjust your idea to match your available time, your energy, your area of expertise, and the reality of your field.
Step 2: Create Big Goals and Small Goals
OK, you know what it is you want to do and why you want to do it. Next up, you’ll create your long-term goal and several short-term goals that will keep you going. Using the example from above, let’s say your long-term goal is to help kids get excited about math so that they will grow up with the skills to become young entrepreneurs such as yourself. What are some small-term goals you can set for yourself to make that happen?
Perhaps you’d like to start tutoring math for students in underserved neighborhoods. Some small-term goals can be to research schools that have low testing scores in math; figure out the average hourly rate for tutors and how you can make that more affordable; see what kind of competition you have and how you can stand out.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Know what you’re facing and what will be required of you. Go into this with your eyes open and you’ll be ahead of the game.
Step 3: Find Your Team
No matter what field you get into or what you want to do, you’ll need people. Whether it’s investors, a website designer, someone to manage the finances, or any other job, you (hopefully!) will reach a point when your project gets too big to manage by yourself. As you move forward, consider the areas of business where you need the most help, or where you feel like you would be wasting your time and energy.
As your tutoring business grows, perhaps you’ll want to hire more tutors. Will you step back and manage the business, or hire someone to do that? If there’s money coming in, who is in charge and where is the money going? Do you do your own social media, or hire someone to post for you?
Surround yourself with knowledgeable and helpful people by joining clubs and organizations in your field. Volunteer for events. Ask friends and teachers for help. You may be surprised at the number of people and groups out there who are happy to help a young entrepreneur along their path.
Step 4: Get the Tools
You are so lucky to be a young entrepreneur in the 21st century! There is no shortage of tools out there to help you get your project started and keep it growing. Here are some areas where apps and social media can help young entrepreneurs:
- Customer service
- Team communication
Rather than using your personal social media accounts to advertise and interact with your customers, consider creating a specialized business account. Your customers want a quick and easy way to look you up, ask questions, and contact you with concerns. Don’t flood your personal email inbox with all of that. Make sure you maintain the same spelling across platforms to avoid confusion and make sure your business name isn’t easily mixed up with something similar.
Once you get going, try to maintain consistency. You don’t need to post every day, but your potential customers want to see that you are actively involved with your business.
With just a few carefully curated apps and a strong online presence, your business will practically drive itself after a while!
Step: 5: Make it Happen!
You’ve figured out your “So that…” You’ve done your research and put together a solid team. You have the technology in place to keep everything running smoothly, and you’ve created TikTok and Twitter handles for your business.
There’s nothing left now but to get out there and make it happen!
It’s worth reiterating that you will need to stay flexible enough to make adjustments as needed once you launch your project in the real world. Believe in yourself but listen to your customers and clients. Keep an eye on the new developments in your field. Communicate with your team honestly.
And of course, remember why you started this project in the first place and try to enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Young people all over the world have created startups that rise to the challenges facing your world. Being a young entrepreneur means more than just making money: it means pouring your strengths and passions into a project that you can be proud of. The Kantner Foundation has given scholarships to young entrepreneurs in all kinds of fields over the years: why not you?
The Kantner Foundation offers college scholarships to young Florida entrepreneurs. Ready to learn more? Click here to see if you are eligible!