Everyone knows that establishing and running your own business isn’t easy. Nevertheless, tomorrow’s entrepreneurs are going to be increasingly crucial to our changing economy, and they need to be encouraged. The life lessons we need to learn in order to make a go of our own business can’t be learnt too soon and indeed those skills and abilities will be useful in many walks of life as young people mature and form relationships.
If you have a good business idea and the determination to follow it up, there’s no reason why you should not go into business when young- even when still at school or college. However, things aren’t becoming easier when you start early.
So, what are the challenges young entrepreneurs need to tackle? Here are five of them.
1. Teenage dreams
There’s a growing wave of ‘teenpreneurs‘ who are registering as directors of their own company, even though they’re still not into their twenties. This initiative and ambition is to be applauded, and there are many advantages to starting when young, but there are also significant challenges, some of which are specific to youth.
Kids are naturally optimistic and ambitious; they want to follow their dreams and haven’t yet been discouraged by the ‘hard knocks’ that life has in store. They’re also comfortable with using the latest technology, which is why so many teentrepreneurs are working in the digital sector. However, they can also be very susceptible to discouragement and doubters, and simple setbacks can quickly dent their natural enthusiasm.
Adults often say that young people don’t know the value of money. That isn’t always the case, but certainly young entrepreneurs need to learn how to budget and manage money before they do anything else.
One advantage of going into business when younger is that you’ve less to lose: you’ve no debts, no mortgage and no family to support. In fact, your family will hopefully support you. But a big disadvantage is that you’ve no capital, and can’t legally obtain a business loan. The solution could be to look around for schemes and public funding specifically intended to support young entrepreneurs in order to grow your business.
While you may not have a full-time day job to work around, chances are you do have school or college to cope with, and doing homework plus chores and extra-curricular activity can leave you little time to dedicate to your business. Learning time-management skills is therefore very important, as is being able to handle pressure and stress.
Anxiety and depression are extremely prevalent among teenagers anyway, and the worry associated with running a business can cause and exacerbate those negative elements in your life.
It is essential that any mental health issues that do arise are addressed quickly and efficiently to avoid long-term problems that could adversely affect your business and, more importantly, your well-being. Help to deal with these difficulties is available at organizations like the Newport Academy, which offers treatment and support for a wide range of mental health disorders in young people.
Young people speak the same language, and putting together an enthusiastic team eager to take on the world can be a great advantage. Working with other young people means that you are part of the wave of the future, but unlike older entrepreneurs, you won’t have an existing network of business contacts and will essentially be starting from scratch. Youth can also make it harder to get customers and clients to take you seriously.
Thankfully the internet is a great leveler. It’s easy to connect with the right people via the web, and if you have a great idea they won’t know or care how old you are. Don’t be embarrassed about being young, but don’t dismiss the experience and knowledge of those older than you either, and always take the opportunity to learn from them.
To be a successful young entrepreneur, you’ll need to have a maturity beyond your years. That means being emotionally stable and able to stay calm when under pressure. You’ll need to be articulate and have a can-do attitude to problem solving. Treat setbacks and failures as opportunities to learn and grow, and know when to trust your own judgment and when to re-think your approach.
Confidence is essential, but arrogance and bravado are weaknesses. Learn to think clearly and methodically, and how to deal with conflict without becoming angry or upset.
Perhaps the biggest challenge to future entrepreneurs is having the self-discipline to stick with it. As well as studying and running a business, you’ll want to be out living your life and having fun with your friends. Don’t be tempted to neglect this side of life completely as you’ll miss out on valuable experiences and learning important social skills, but don’t give up on your business venture just because it’s taking far longer to come good than you anticipated.
That, after all, is the great advantage of starting young: time is on your side.