There are certain characteristics that all young entrepreneurs have in common no matter what field they are in, what their business model looks like, or what their goals are. All young entrepreneurs want to feel confident. You want to make a difference. You want to be seen, heard, and respected.
And you want to succeed.
It’s important to understand that success looks different for everyone. Your classmate may run a web design service, and for them, success looks like having a roster of regular clients. But you may have started a business as an event planner for non-profit organizations. Your idea of success will look far different than your classmate’s.
Your dreams of success will lead you down a different path than others might take. Once you know what success looks like, you’ll know which path to take.
WHY YOU STARTED YOUR BUSINESS
When you took your first step in your entrepreneurial journey, you had some idea of what you wanted to achieve. Some common goals among young entrepreneurs are:
- Helping others
- Preparing for a career
Your goals might be one of these, a combination, or all four. Whatever your goals were when you started will help you define what success means for you.
While money may not seem as lofty or respectable as the other items on that list, it’s no less important. Everyone needs money to survive. For young entrepreneurs, sometimes money means helping their families pay bills or saving up for a car. Cory Nieves started a cookie business when he was 6 years old so that he could help his mom buy a car.
Recognition also comes in many forms. For some of you, it may mean winning a business competition or scholarship. And, you know, if you happen to be recognized as an outstanding young entrepreneur, that’s not too bad, either!
Helping others is always a noble reason to start a business. These young entrepreneurs are the ones who see a problem and know how to solve it. Whether it’s a lack of affordable childcare in their neighborhood or a new app service for their entrepreneurial friends, they have the solution.
Being in high school and looking towards college means you have an idea of what you want to do with your life. And that’s another reason why you’ve started your business. Running a website that matches people with their ideal pets is a great way to show potential colleges your passion for animals.
Maybe you started your business for a whole other reason. Whatever it is, let it serve as both your destination and your signposts along the way. That’s how you’ll know when you’ve succeeded.
CREATE A STRATEGY
Knowing your goals will help you create the strategy you need to succeed. You’ve already written a business plan…right? Part of that plan should include what your ultimate success looks like. What is the greatest thing you hope to achieve with your start-up? Visualize the moment when you look at what you’ve accomplished and can honestly say, “I did it!” What does it feel like?
Every part of your business plan should be aimed at that ideal of success. As you break down your business plan into a timeline and smaller goals, ask yourself: will this lead me to my destination? Doing so will help keep you on track, as well as pull you back when you get distracted. Detours are fine so long as they don’t lead you too far from the path you’ve created.
MAKE IT WORK
Check off smaller goals as you achieve them. This way you’ll see for yourself whether you are getting closer to your ultimate success. If you’ve created a product and your idea of success is to sell 10,000 of it so that you can afford a car, then do some math. Do you need the car by August so you can drive yourself to college? If so, how many products do you need to sell per month starting now? As you meet that quota, pat yourself on the back and know that you are on the right path!
But what if you don’t meet your quota? This is a detour. You’ll need to look at your business plan and figure out where the problem is and how to fix it. Ask yourself if you should invest in hiring a team to help you. Or maybe you’re marketing your product all wrong. Whatever the problem, young entrepreneurs look for solutions. Get creative. Ask for help. Brainstorm with your team. And then keep pushing.
STICK WITH YOUR VISION
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: the passion you put into your business is highly contagious. When you’re excited to succeed, everyone around you will catch that excitement. Your team will work harder if they can see your vision of success as clearly as you do. Your friends and family will cheer for you, motivate you, and push you to keep going.
Your vision is important because it is YOURS. Whatever that vision is, try to surround yourself with others who believe in it, too. Let everyone know WHY this is so important. Share as much of your personal story as you feel comfortable sharing to humanize your business. Emphasize that you are a high school student who is working hard to make a change for the better in your community. Spread that energy and optimism around, and you’ll find it’s so much easier to make your dreams come true!
No matter what your idea of success looks like, you deserve to see it achieved. Believe in yourself and your dreams of success will follow. With a little hard work and a little planning, anything you do can succeed!
The Kantner Foundation offers college scholarships to young Florida entrepreneurs. Ready to learn more? Click here to see if you are eligible!