Starting a business can be trying at any age, but being a young entrepreneur can be especially tough. And interestingly, according to a recent Huffington Post article, 60 percent of today’s millennials consider themselves entrepreneurs and 90 percent recognize entrepreneurship as a mentality.
These figures are staggering, and excite me for the future of business – it’s inspiring to meet countless individuals around the world who are full of ideas and seeking to make a difference through their new, varying business ventures.
In celebration of National Entrepreneurship Week, a national initiative that BNI® is proud to support, I’ve outlined five fundamental tips for aspiring entrepreneurs to consider as you commence on the exciting, yet often challenging, entrepreneurial journey.
- Do work you care about. As Steve Jobs brilliantly said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” I couldn’t agree more with this statement – each and every day I am fortunate to truly believe in the organization I’m leading, including our mission and our vision for the future. And when you’re starting a new business, having that passion is the key ingredient for success. Taking this sentiment one-step further, I encourage you to think about the social impact your new venture can have on your community, and really throughout the world. You have an opportunity to make a difference.
- Have a vision. While many people have business ideas, it’s important to have a long-term vision. Where do you want your business to be in 6 months, 1 year and 5 years from now? Set your goals, and remind yourself of them each and every day. At BNI, we’ve set a BHAG – or a big hairy audacious goal. Essentially, our BHAG is to have really happy members and to have a lot of them. We’ve quantified this, and made our BHAG highly visible on each of our office walls, to encourage us to always think big.
- Plan for raising capital. This will look different for each person, and for each endeavor, but I encourage you to do your market research. Determine your start up and longer-term expenses. Identify all sources of potential capital for your business, and fully weigh the pros and cons of each option. Then you’ll need to create a well-constructed, comprehensive business plan. This process can take longer than you may think, so be sure to start early and plan accordingly.
- Spend wisely. This is perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give you as often times, lack of funding is a primary barrier for young entrepreneurs looking to start a business. But if you make use of all available resources and spend wisely, you can be successful with limited funding. Be creative, and think about “growth hacking techniques,” or the most efficient ways you can accelerate your business growth. For example, can you work from home until you can afford to move into an office space? Can your business be an internet-based business instead of investing in a storefront? Is there any free software you can utilize? Is there an effective way to spread your messages that is also low in cost (i.e. a blog)?
- Surround yourself with mentors. You can’t do it all on your own. Be sure to connect with other like-minded individuals and learn as much as you can from others who have been in your shoes. This guidance and council from other entrepreneurs and business leaders can be invaluable in helping you achieve your goals. To do so, consider joining organizations such as BNI to help you grow your network, and to meet other entrepreneurs in your community.
As any entrepreneur will tell you, being a successful business leader takes a lot of hard work, energy and determination. But it’s an exciting journey.
While I’ve only begun to scratch the surface here, I hope these tips help you jump start your business and navigate your own journey. I hope you feel empowered to follow your dreams, and to turn your ideas into reality!