Did you know that nearly 60% of young entrepreneurs start their first business at an average age of 27? Personally, I was 30.
From personal experience, I can tell you that the journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur isn’t always easy or as quick as we’d like, but it can be incredibly rewarding. One of my clients, who was just 22 when he started his first business, had no business experience, no mentor (at the time), and little money.
But what he did have was a burning passion and a relentless drive to succeed. He came up with the idea, started small, made some mistakes, learned from them, and grew his business steadily over time. Now, at the age of 30, he runs a multi-million dollar company. It wasn’t easy, but he did it. And you can do it too.
What Is a Young Entrepreneur?
A young entrepreneur, in the most straightforward terms, is an individual who embarks on the journey of establishing and managing their own business at a relatively young age. Typically, these are individuals in their twenties or early thirties who decide to take the leap into entrepreneurship, often driven by a unique business idea, a passion for innovation, or a desire to create their own path in the business world.
Unlike their more seasoned counterparts, young business owners bring a fresh, energetic approach to business. They tend to be more open to risks, adaptable to change, and eager to take advantage of the latest market trends and technology.
In my opinion, being a young entrepreneur doesn’t just mean being a young person who starts a business. It’s about embodying the spirit of entrepreneurialism, which means you pursue growth and change, embrace challenges, have an innovative mindset, and are resolved to face your fears. It means having the courage to dream big, dive into the unknown, and create something truly impactful from scratch.
9 Startup Tips for a Young Entrepreneur
1. Find Your Passion
Your passion is not just about what you enjoy, but also what excites, motivates, and challenges you.
That doesn’t mean that you have to be passionate about fixing toilets in order to start a plumbing company – but perhaps what you are passionate about is taking care of people when they feel most desperate, working with your hands rather than behind a desk, or solving problems that most people can’t solve.
Passion is that itch you can’t help but scratch, the problem you are fixated on solving, or the cause that you feel deeply connected to… but more often than not, it’s stems from what it does for you or others, moreso than being passionate about the product or service itself.
Remember, a truly successful business is not just about making money but creating value. When you are passionate about your work, it will shine through in the products or services you provide, infusing authenticity and enthusiasm into your client interactions. This passion will also help you persevere during the inevitable challenges and obstacles that arise in your journey.
2. Do Your Research
Before you dive headfirst into your new business venture, it’s crucial to conduct thorough research. Understand your market, the target audience, and the existing competition in your chosen niche. Dig deep into the industry trends, consumer behavior, and the latest innovations. This research is the foundation of your business strategy and will help you make informed decisions.
It’s also a good idea to closely study successful businesses in your field – what strategies do they use? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What can you learn from them? Where can you add value in a way that will differentiate you? Keep in mind, knowledge is power in business. The better you understand your target audience, the higher your chances of success. So, don’t rush this step. Take your time to gather and analyze information, and use it to shape your unique value proposition.
3. Get Your Finances in Order
Starting a business requires capital, and understanding your financial situation is integral to your success. The first step is to evaluate your personal finances. Evaluate how much you can afford to invest and how much risk you are willing to take on. Then, create a detailed business budget outlining your expected costs – including things like rent, supplies, marketing, and salaries (including your own!), then conservatively estimate how long it will take before your business makes enough money to be self-sustaining.
Be realistic and thorough, as underestimating your costs can lead to financial strain down the line. If you determine that you need outside funding, consider all options: savings, loans, credit cards, investors, or even crowdfunding. Don’t forget to set up a separate business bank account to keep personal and business finances separate. This will not only make tax time easier but also give you a clearer picture of your business’s financial health. Always remember, that managing finances prudently is the backbone of every successful business.
4. Create a Business Plan
A business plan lays the foundation for your business – it’s your roadmap, outlining the direction, setting the goals, and defining the strategies for your business. Start by crafting a clear and concise executive summary that encapsulates your business idea, its unique value proposition, and the market opportunity. Then, delve into the details, including your business structure, products or services, target market analysis, marketing and sales strategy, pricing strategy, and financial projections.
Your business plan should also cover any potential challenges or risks and how you plan to address them. Remember, your business plan isn’t merely a document to attract investors; it’s a strategic tool that will guide your decision-making process and help you navigate your way to success. It should be dynamic, adapting, and evolving as your business grows and market conditions change.
5. Recruit a Great Team
Behind every successful business, there’s a dedicated, passionate team working to bring the vision to life. When the time comes to begin recruiting your team, look beyond just qualifications and experience. Seek out individuals who share your vision, resonate with your company’s values, and bring diverse skills to the table. It’s important to foster a team culture that encourages creativity, collaboration, and mutual growth.
Your team members aren’t just employees; they’re your partners in this journey. Investing time and energy into their development, offering them autonomy, and valuing their input can lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction. In a nutshell, building a great team is about more than just hiring talented individuals. It’s about creating an environment where each member feels valued and inspired to contribute their best.
6. Prepare to Make Sacrifices
While online business influencers might make it look like they’ve never had a bad day, the reality is that the early days of building a successful business often demands long hours, late nights, and less time for personal pursuits – particularly if you are building your business on a limited budget. This can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that these sacrifices should be temporary and are part of the commitment you make to see your dream become a reality.
However, it’s crucial to make sure that this season doesn’t last forever, and that you take care of your physical and mental health even while you’re in hustle mode. Think of it like the challenge of starting to peddle a bike up an incline. It takes significant effort initially, but eventually the road levels out a bit, and while you still have to pedal, it requires less of your effort to keep the bike going.
7. Be Patient
Patience is indeed a virtue, especially in the world of entrepreneurship. Starting a business is a marathon, not a sprint – it involves a series of steps, each requiring thoughtful planning, execution, and adaptation. You may not see immediate results, and that’s okay. Remember, successful businesses aren’t built overnight – even those with massive funding.
It takes time to develop and refine a world class product or service, win over customers, and achieve profitability. There will be hurdles and setbacks along the way, but patience keeps you focused, learning from the challenges, and persisting through the highs and lows. It tests your resolve and strengthens your character, fostering a resilience that is essential for long-term success.
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” – Bill Gates
8. Be Flexible
In the world of business, change is the only constant, and many assumptions prove to be incorrect. You set your business plan based on the best knowledge you have at the time – which frankly, isn’t much compared to real-world experience. Over time, you’ll gain new knowledge, customer expectations shift, market trends evolve, and unforeseen situations arise. As an entrepreneur, your ability to adapt and pivot in response to these changes will determine your success.
Flexibility enables you to reassess your strategies, alter your course when necessary, and seize new opportunities that come your way. It encourages innovation, fosters resilience, and empowers you to turn challenges into stepping stones. However, while flexibility is essential, it should never compromise your core values and vision. They serve as your guiding light, anchoring your business amidst the waves of change.
9. Take Action
Taking action transforms ideas into reality. Young founders might have the most innovative business concept, a meticulously crafted plan, and an unreasonable dose of motivation, but without action, they remain just that – plans and ideas. The willingness to take that leap, to put your plans into motion, is what sets successful entrepreneurs apart.
The road to action might be fraught with fear and uncertainty, but remember, every step you take, no matter how small, is progress. Action breeds momentum. It also cultivates learning and growth – you gain invaluable insights from each success and failure, each stumbling block and triumph. So, don’t wait for the ‘perfect’ time or the ‘perfect’ plan – it’s the actions you take today that build your path to success.
Who Are Some of Today’s Most Successful Young Entrepreneurs?
Today’s business landscape is brimming with young innovators who have disrupted traditional industries and created innovative solutions to age-old problems.
One such entrepreneur is Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb. An innovator since young age, Chesky revolutionized the hospitality industry with his unique home-sharing platform. It started as a simple idea to rent out extra space in his apartment (literally on an air mattress), and it has now evolved into a global corporation valued at over $100 billion. Through this platform, Chesky and his co-founders have enabled more people to travel affordably and provided additional income for those with extra space.
He has also been a vocal advocate for the sharing economy, pushing for greater collaboration between tech startups and traditional businesses. Chesky’s success serves as an example of how young people can disrupt existing industries with innovative business models—empowering them to take the lead and create a better future.
One lesser-known example of a successful young entrepreneur is Moziah Bridges, the founder of Mo’s Bows. Starting at the age of nine, Moziah turned his passion for fashion into a thriving business that has since earned him widespread recognition and success. His handmade bow ties and neckties, known for their unique designs and vibrant colors, have been featured in popular media outlets like Vogue and GQ and even landed him a licensing deal with the NBA.
Moziah appeared on season 5 of the TV show Shark Tank, where fashion mogul Daymond John did not invest in his business, but did offer to mentor him. His story serves as an inspiration for budding entrepreneurs, demonstrating that age is no barrier to success.
Next on the list is Mark Zuckerberg, the mind behind Facebook. He became a millionaire by the age of 22 and a billionaire by 23, demonstrating how technology and social media can transform the way we connect and communicate. Zuckerberg is now a household name, but his success began modestly with just one prototype of a social networking site.
He was able to turn that idea into an internet phenomenon and the world’s largest social media network in less than a decade. His story illustrates how youthful ambition combined with cutting-edge innovation can make all the difference for aspiring entrepreneurs.
At 27 years old, Alex Rappaport has made it to the 2023 list of Forbes’ 30 under 30. He co-founded ZwitterCo, a company that leverages revolutionary advancements in filtration technology to aid companies in removing more harmful substances from their wastewater.
ZwitterCo’s groundbreaking membranes exhibit exceptional longevity, enduring years of use while effectively processing fats, oils, and grease. Securing substantial backing, the company has amassed $44 million in venture funding, with its Series A round spearheaded by the deep tech firm DCVC.
These entrepreneurs are just a few examples of young leaders who dared to think differently and took risks to forge their own path. Their stories serve as a beacon of inspiration for budding entrepreneurs, reminding them that drive, resilience, and innovation can indeed lead to significant accomplishments.
What Common Mistakes Should Young Entrepreneurs Avoid?
Starting a business is exciting and fulfilling, but it’s also fraught with common pitfalls that young entrepreneurs should be aware of.
- Neglecting market research
One of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make is making too many assumptions, and neglecting thorough market research. They may have a fantastic idea, but if there isn’t a market fit for it, the business is unlikely to succeed. Understanding your target audience, their needs, preferences, and the competitive landscape is crucial for tailoring your product or service and crafting effective marketing strategies.
- Underestimating the importance of a business plan
Many young founders underestimate the importance of a well thought out business plan. A business plan is not just a tool for securing funding; it’s a roadmap for your business. It helps clarify your business idea, sets your goals, outlines strategies for reaching them, and anticipates potential challenges. It essentially serves as a guide to keep you focused and on track.
- Overlooking the value of mentorship
Sometimes, young business owners may feel they can navigate the entrepreneurial landscape on their own. But having a mentor or coach can provide invaluable guidance, experience, and connections. Mentors can help entrepreneurs avoid potential pitfalls, make informed decisions, and provide moral support during challenging times.
- Not adapting to change
Business environments are fluid, and the ability to adapt to change is crucial for survival. Entrepreneurs must be open to altering their business model or strategy based on market trends, customer feedback, or new opportunities. Being rigid and resistant to change will hinder growth.
- Not taking care of personal health
Lastly, many entrepreneurs give everything to their startups and often neglect their physical and mental health. It’s important to understand that they are their business’s most valuable asset. Taking care of their health, taking breaks, and maintaining meaningful relationships is vital for sustainable success.
Avoiding these common mistakes can smooth the path for budding entrepreneurs and help them build a strong foundation for their businesses. As they navigate their entrepreneurial journey, they should remember that mistakes are learning opportunities that can guide them toward success.
Who is the most famous young entrepreneur?
While there are many famous young entrepreneurs, one of the most well-known in current times is undoubtedly Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook. Zuckerberg started Facebook from his dorm room at Harvard University in 2004, and it has since grown into a global platform with over 2.8 billion active users, transforming the way people communicate and connect. Due to the immense reach and impact of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg’s name has become synonymous with youth entrepreneurship. Despite facing several controversies, his influence in the tech industry and business sphere is undeniable.
Who is the richest entrepreneur under 30?
At the top of the list of the wealthiest individuals aged 30 and under is Mark Mateschitz, the heir to the Red Bull empire, following the passing of his father Dietrich in October 2022. Holding an estimated fortune of $34.7 billion, his wealth dwarfs that of his closest counterparts, Clemente Del Vecchio and his two siblings, by nearly tenfold. Mateschitz’s financial prowess extends even further, making him the most affluent among the 150 newcomers to the 2023 roster of billionaires.
Can a 12-Year-Old Own a Business?
Yes, a 12-year-old can technically own a business, and there are numerous successful examples of young entrepreneurs globally. However, there are legal constraints and considerations to take into account as minors cannot sign contracts or legal agreements.
They typically require the involvement of an adult, such as a parent or guardian, to handle these aspects. It’s also crucial for young entrepreneurs to balance their business pursuits with their education, other responsibilities, and maintaining the joy of being a kid. Encouragingly, there are many resources available to support and guide young entrepreneurs, from online courses and mentorship programs to youth-oriented business competitions.
How can young entrepreneurs manage failure and learn from it?
Failure is often viewed negatively, but for entrepreneurs, it can be an invaluable learning tool. Young entrepreneurs can manage failure and learn from it in the following ways:
Expect Failure as Part of the Process: Understand that failure is not the end of the road, but a stepping stone to success. Many successful entrepreneurs have faced numerous failures before they hit their big breakthroughs.
Analyze What Went Wrong: When a failure occurs, it’s crucial to take a step back and analyze what went wrong. Identify the mistakes that led to the failure and understand why it happened. History will repeat itself until the lesson is learned.
Take Responsibility: Avoid blaming external factors for the failure. Taking responsibility allows you to control the situation and make the necessary changes to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
Seek Feedback: Don’t shy away from feedback. Be it from mentors, customers, or team members; their insights can provide valuable perspectives on what went wrong and how to improve.
Use Failure as Motivation: Use the experience of failure as motivation to improve and do better. Remember, every failure brings you one step closer to success.
Keep Learning: Always stay curious and open to learning. Whether it be through books, podcasts, seminars, online courses, or coaches, continuous learning can help you navigate failures more effectively.