Starting a business as a young person is a perfect opportunity to learn, grow and develop. Being a young person you often don't have the pressures of ‘life’ on your shoulders around providing for a family, guaranteeing a level of financial stability and following an established career progression. As a young person you have the opportunity to experiment, to try new things, to work hard and to focus on your goals. Whether this is working hard to get a head start on your career, establish yourself in an industry, or even start a business, we often see young professionals working hard to stand out from the crowd.
This is also the perfect opportunity to start a business. Whether you’re still in school, in university, or in your early career, this is often when inspiration strikes and when you have the freedom and flexibility to launch your own venture.
One of the issues with this, however, is that young people often think they have to quit their jobs, raise five million dollars and move to Silicon Valley to bring their idea to life. I, on the contrary, would advise just the opposite. Start small, run it as a side hustle, and then when you have enough revenue to sustain your business, slowly transition into a full time role.
One thing I always teach aspiring founders about, is the need to start small before going big. So often we see entrepreneurs invest $10,000, $50,000 or +$100,000 in developing a shiny product with all the bells and whistles before they even talk to their customers.
For this, we talk about building a minimum viable product (MVP). This is a cheap prototype, often homemade, that costs under $100. Use this as a proof of concept for your idea and use it to get feedback from your target customers. Ask them what they do and don’t like, how they would plan on using it, and how much they would realistically spend on it.
This is a great way to get feedback whilst also developing relationships with the people that will pay for your product if you end up building what they have asked for. What’s even better is depending on how good your MVP is, they might even buy it off you for a lower price so they can start using it.
Start It As A Side Hustle
Another common myth about starting a business is the need to be working in your business full time from day one. The thought of leaping from a secure job, course, or pathway can be daunting for anyone and is often a major deterrent for those looking to launch their own venture.
What I instead recommend is running your business as a side hustle to start with. Think of it as a hobby or an extra curricular to start with, something you might spend a few hours a week on in your spare time.
Businesses often take a little while to start making a decent amount of money and it’s important that you’re able to sustain yourself with other income streams until your business gets to that point.
After your business starts to grow, keep investing time into it as a side hustle until it’s bringing in enough revenue to pay for your time. It might take a while to get to that point, and balancing your business with your other commitments will be a great deal of work, but building a strong support network of family and friends will help keep you motivated.
You Don’t Always Have To Raise
Another common misconception of being a young entrepreneur is the mentality that to start a business you have to go out and raise five million dollars before you can get an idea off the ground. In reality, getting investment is a long and tedious process; one that can take years. In addition to this, as a young person working on your first business, you are incredibly uninvestable with no experience or track record.
What you can do instead is focus on bootstrapping your business and running off revenue. Find something simple that you can sell that will help pay your bills and will get you off the ground while you work on bringing your ideas to life.
Starting a business as a young person is one of the best things you can do to support your growth, development and maturity, but keep in mind that it is not an easy pathway to follow. Running a business requires passion, determination and drive, but if you commit 100%, the rewards will be worth the effort.