Here at the Kantner Foundation, we celebrate young entrepreneurs. But what, exactly, is entrepreneurship? How can you get started?
The Center for American Entrepreneurship defines entrepreneurship as:
“…the process of starting and developing a company, with the aim of delivering something new or improved to the market, or by organizing the means of production in a superior way.”
As part of the new generation of young entrepreneurs, your ideas and dreams have the potential to change lives for the better.
While entrepreneurship isn’t limited to a single field, such as finance or business, there are a few qualities all successful entrepreneurs have shared since Day 1 of building their enterprises:
Why do you want to become an entrepreneur? Ask yourself this question and really think about the answer before you start your business. Some common motivators for entrepreneurs are:
- Financial success
- Reap the benefits of all your hard work
- Protect your future
- Answer to no one but yourself
- Full control of your business
- You’re a problem-solver
- You have a vision of what needs to be changed and how to do it
- Make changes as YOU see fit
- No set hours
Naturally, you don’t need to have just one motivation. In fact, if you can find a way to solve problems AND achieve financial success, you are much more likely to grow your business.
The bottom line is that you need more than just the desire to pad your resume or scholarship applications in order to become an entrepreneur; once you get started, the gold star on your scholarship application will be a bonus!
…their passion for learning
While you are still in school, learning means taking business classes, looking for new marketing opportunities, and listening to mentors.
Beyond that, entrepreneurial learning means maintaining a “beginner’s mind,” staying open to new ideas and advice. You attend seminars and workshops, read books, chat with peers, and follow the latest developments in your field. Remaining stagnant in your learning is the kiss of death for entrepreneurs.
At the same time, learning also refers to listening to your customers. What are they telling you? Are there similar complaints coming in over and over again? How will you address that? Remember: your customers are the reason you started this business, and they are the ones keeping your business afloat. Dismissing your customers’ feedback tells them that you don’t really care about their needs, and that’s a quick way to lose their patronage.
…their desire to help
If your sole purpose is to make a lot of money very quickly, go buy a lottery ticket and cross your fingers. However, if, as stated above, part of your motivation is to help people, then you are on the right path toward entrepreneurship.
As we’ve stated again and again, entrepreneurs see real problems around them and start a business in order to solve them. The problems do not have to be globally catastrophic, but they should be real-world issues. Air B&B, for example, was started when a group of friends found it too pricey to always stay at hotels. What’s going on in your neighborhood that could use a smart, creative mind like yours to fix?
Creating a solution that helps others is a great way to ensure you’ll always have customers, and therefore, always have income.
…seeing opportunities everywhere
Along with problem-solving, entrepreneurs are always thinking about ways to improve their existing products and services. Steve Jobs didn’t stop with his first desktop computer; thanks to his constant innovation, he changed the world with iPads, iPhones, and MacBooks. The founders of Uber didn’t stop with a ride-sharing service, they eventually created a food delivery service that created jobs and helped many during the pandemic.
As your business grows, keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities to grow. You might expand your existing business to new locations or customer demographics, or you might expand beyond your immediate field, the way Apple and Uber did.
Entrepreneurs dash into a challenge when everyone else runs away. They see every failure as another road sign on the path to success. Entrepreneurs believe in themselves and aren’t intimidated by the captain’s chair.
As you create your business plan and prepare to launch your start-up, take the time to do an internal inventory and write down your strengths and your weaknesses. Be honest. Your strengths will be your greatest asset, but your weaknesses don’t need to drag you down. Consider the areas in which you could use some extra training or education, and don’t let fear hold you back from seeking out the help you need.
Think of this like building a muscle: where you feel weak is where you need to focus. This challenge might feel impossible, but no successful entrepreneur got where they are by refusing hard work. Take control of your own destiny, your own company, your own life. Face your fears head-on and your reward will be increased self-confidence, a broader skillset, and the stamina to face even bigger challenges ahead.
By its very definition, entrepreneurship involves risk. Here you are, starting a business from scratch, working hard to help it succeed, and hoping for the best. That’s risky!
Taking risks means the potential for failure, but it also means the potential for enormous success. When you believe in yourself and have a good sense of your passions, you should be willing to risk the time, energy, and money to make your dream a reality. No one else will do it for you!
Anyone can become an entrepreneur. If some of these qualities feel overwhelming or completely alien to you, consider that a challenge and rise to the occasion. No one said this would be easy, but we have complete faith in the new generation of young entrepreneurs to crush their goals and achieve their dreams!
Find out more about the Kantner Foundation, including our college scholarships for young entrepreneurs in Florida, by clicking here. We look forward to your application!