Advice for Young Entrepreneurs

Dear Young Entrepreneur,

Do you have a dream of owning your own business?

In my role as facilitator, I help women and men into self-employment. For the most part they are 30-something and older, and I often wonder how we might encourage more young people to get interested in business.

There are many reasons why young people would opt for a job over the uncertain world of entrepreneurship. Jobs can offer a steady paycheque and security, while business is risky and anything but a slam dunk. If you’re new on the job market and thinking about starting a business, here are a few points to consider.

  1. Risk your own money to get started, even if you’re fortunate enough to have loving grandparents willing to invest in your venture. Don’t rush into debt. Debt can drain the profit from a business. It tends to up a lot of the energy you could instead be using to serve customers.
  2. Start small and learn all you can while your business is tiny. The inexpensive lessons learned during the early stages will serve you well once your enterprise starts to grow.
  3. Learn how to manage money with the smaller amounts that filter through your life while you’re young. Good personal financial habits will be an advantage as you learn to manage your business.
  4. Save 10% of all the cash that flows through your bank account. Start as soon as you read this. Even a small amount of saving will improve a negative financial situation, almost immediately.
  5. Before jumping into a partnership, get to know the person or people you are teaming up with. A great partnership can serve you well, a bad one is sure to bring the business down. Have an exit plan going in.
  6. Be cautious about deals that look too good to be true. These tend to have a flavour of “get rich quick without breaking a sweat.” If a deal looks too good to be true, there’s a good chance it’s false.
  7. A business is a lot of hard work, if anything it’s a “get rich slow” plan. There are many reasons, beyond profit, to start a business—making a difference, pride in providing a great service in your community, lifestyle, and recognition for a job well done.
  8. Most of what you need to know to run a business, you probably learned in school— treat others fairly, say please and thank you, and smile—all essential business skills.
  9. If you’re risking any more than pocket change, write a business plan. It will help you learn about your venture and the industry around it. Be a learner.

It’s the start of 2012 and there are more business opportunities than ever before. A number of trends make this an ideal time to begin dabbling in the world of business. Demographics tell us that a large percentage of our aging workforce will soon be retiring, which will open up career and business opportunities right across the marketplace. Over the past decade, technology and the Internet have propelled us into the information age. These demographic and technological changes create an ongoing flow of new business opportunities for those with the vision to recognize them and the urge to take action.

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