What Young Entrepreneurs Need to Do to Start a Small Business

Congratulations! If you’ve made it to this website, chances are you’re already interested in becoming a young entrepreneur. Here at the Kantner Foundation, we encourage and celebrate young entrepreneurs who change the world with their ideas and energy!   

Starting a new business from scratch isn’t easy, especially for high schoolers. But we believe in the power of today’s up-and-coming generation of entrepreneurs. We know you have the creativity, drive, and intelligence to become the world leaders of tomorrow.   

Ready to get started on your entrepreneurial journey? Here are some of the first steps you need to consider as you blaze your trail!  


There are so many business ideas out there. How do you pick just one? And how do you know if that idea is right for you?  

Start by assessing your skills and areas of interest.  

There are two types of businesses you can start: providing a service or selling a product. Think about which of these you are most comfortable doing. Look at the cost of the tools and materials you’ll need for your potential business.   

Ask yourself what you love doing. You’re more likely to stick with your business if you’re doing something you love.  

Once you’ve narrowed things down a bit, you’ll be able to focus on what type of business is right for you.  


No need to reinvent the wheel or design a rocket ship to Mars. (However, if you do design a rocket ship to Mars, please let us know!)   

The best way to get started is to keep your business simple. If you love kids and want to babysit, start with one or two clients, preferably families you already know. Friends of your younger siblings are a great place to start! Get comfortable with your new business and grow from there.  


Take a look at the businesses you’re thinking about. What do you need to do to be taken seriously? In what ways can you stand out from the competition? For example, as a babysitter, you might invest in First Aid classes and CPR training, or a take a class on infant care. (Changing diapers isn’t as intuitive as you might think.) Doing these things lets parents know you are serious about taking good care of their children.  

Those of you who have never had to balance finances before should consider a crash course in how to handle money. Starting a business isn’t the same as getting an allowance.  

Do you need licenses to open or run your business? Certificates? Is there paperwork that needs to be filled out? Find out and get it all done. Take your business start-up seriously, and others will take you seriously.  


Mentors are great because they are invested in your well-being and your entrepreneurial success. They’re older, wiser, and more experienced than you are. You benefit from their advice and insight.   

A mentor can be a teacher, parent, coach, or any other trusted adult who knows about entrepreneurship. Very few people in the world can start and run a business completely on their own. Mentors are there to help you every step of the way.  


There are so many existing programs out there for young entrepreneurs like you. There are summer camps, competitions, organizations, pre-college programs, and more. Think of these as your one-stop shop for all things entrepreneurial. Not only will you learn how to walk the entrepreneurial path from idea to success, but you’ll network with peers and make lifelong connections.  


Few, if any, successful entrepreneurs became well-known by hiding in the shadows! Young entrepreneurs can’t afford to be shy, introverted, or modest – at least not when it comes to their businesses. From creating your brand to recruiting brand ambassadors, now is the time for you to raise your voice and shout it to the world: you are here, your business is wonderful, and everyone should check you out!  

Still feeling shy when it comes to bragging about yourself? You may be suffering from imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is very real and very annoying. Learn how to recognize it, deal with it, and overcome it so it doesn’t hold you back from the success you deserve.  


If you can dream it, you can do it. Here are five ways to train your brain for maximum entrepreneurial success:  

  1. Be professional  
  2. Visualize success as a given  
  3. Focus on the quality of your job or product  
  4. Stay motivated  
  5. Adapt and grow  

Believe in yourself but be ready to put in the time and effort it will take to get things started. Success doesn’t happen overnight. One of the key qualities all successful young entrepreneurs have in common is that they aren’t lazy. The more work you put in, the greater the rewards will be.  


If there’s one philosophy that ties all this other advice together, it’s this: work hard at something you love, and success will follow. At this stage of your life and entrepreneurial journey, the goal shouldn’t be to become a billionaire in less than a year. (Although if you do, again, please let us know!) Focus on your passion, your drive, and your creativity.   

High school entrepreneurship is the time to focus on the journey rather than the destination. There’s so much out there to learn – even established entrepreneurs keep a beginner’s mindset and are always looking for lessons along the way. You’re lucky that right now, every step of the journey is a lesson for you! Failures are less devastating than they are for your older peers. Everything – and we mean everything – for you should be viewed as a lesson learned, even if those lessons are difficult. Nothing is wasted here. It’s all growth for you!  

And if the money starts to roll in while you’re learning these valuable lessons? Think of that as an enormous bonus, rather than your destination!  

Will you be one of the next recipients of a Kantner Foundation college scholarship? If you are a Florida high school entrepreneur, click here to learn more!  

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