One thing we have learnt at Sussex Business Bureau is that you don't have to be an adult to have exceptional business ideas. In fact since the internet came along we've seen a host of younger people make a massive success of business. They include the amazing George Matus of Teal Drones, who started his company at aged 18, and Mr. Cory's Cookies, owned by Cory Nieves, who set the business up at just six years old. And how about You Tube's youngest millionaire for 2016, the proud owner of the EvanTubeHD channel, set up when the owner was ten years old. He reviews toys and so far has an awe-inspiring six million or so subscribers.
So you want to start a business at an early age? The thing is, you might have the bright idea needed in the first place but let's be honest – setting up and running a business is about a lot more than good ideas alone. It's about administration, processes and procedures, software and hardware, sales channels, marketing, stocktaking, accounts, VAT and a whole lot more. And what six year old can handle all that without help? Even the brightest teen will find it a struggle, having no real business experience behind them.
You need to be able to swim in grown-up waters, so how do you give your fledgling business a professional edge? You need help to do the complicated stuff, the boring bits, the time consuming elements that you just don't have the resources, as a child, to get right first time on your own. In some cases it's a legal thing. In England and Wales, for example, you can't legally enter into a contract until you're aged 18.
If you're a young entrepreneur, here are our hot tips to help you get where you want to be faster and more efficiently, playing to your strengths and knowing when it's best to hand something over to a competent grown-up.
15 hot tips for young entrepreneurs
- 1. Advice is great to have. But when every adult within a ten mile radius is sticking their oar in, things can soon get confusing. Don't doubt yourself. Trust your instincts. You might be inexperienced but that doesn't mean your business idea isn't a winner. You can only build up the self confidence you need by diving in and actually doing it yourself, something many adults forget
- 2. Surround yourself with cool people – you know best who inspires you and who doesn't. Find the people who do, and pick their brains relentlessly!
- 3. Don't be scared to do things in unusual ways. The old ways, the usual ways, are not necessarily the best ways. You might just land on something spectacularly successful that older people simply haven't thought about. Non-conventional ways of tackling problems can have stunningly good results
- 4. You are not your products. You are you, and you're the most powerful sales tool in the toolbox. Never underestimate your own appeal. People buy from people, and it's so much easier to build trust with a bit of personal interaction
- 5. Step out of your comfort zone. You've never spoken to a journalist before? Or been interviewed on the radio? Or for a podcast? Neither have most adults. Be yourself, stay cool, be calm and take your time. You'll be fine
- 6. Confidence matters. But if you're not that confident, don't worry. It'll come, and there aren't really any short cuts. It has to come from inside you. If you can read a few business books, it'll help. Some young business people meditate, or do yoga to help them understand and stay in tune with their own emotions
- 7. Set formal goals. Every good business does it. Setting goals mean you know exactly what direction you're going in. And setting up plans designed to achieve those goals means you stay on track
- 8. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Adult entrepreneurs know when they need to get help, and getting the right support can make all the difference between success and failure
- 9. Because you're young, you might not have a fully detailed picture of what makes you tick from the inside. Again that's something that comes with age, so be easy on yourself. Plenty of adults don't have a clue what motivates them, pleases them or makes the unhappy. Self knowledge is a learned skill, not something we all do automatically
- 10. Know business isn't always fun! It is actually incredibly challenging a lot of the time
- 11. Understand that mistakes are not the end of the world. We all make them, and unless you've made an absolute whopper, they can usually be put right
- 12. Award yourself a good work-life balance. If you're still at school you'll already have a pretty full timetable. How many more hours can you fit in without making yourself ill or wearing yourself out? Wise adult entrepreneurs know when to switch off, and they also know they can hand things over to a call answering service, an accountant, a business support person or a Virtual Assistant. Put your opening times clearly on your site, social media pages and so on, and you'll be in more control
- 13. Time management matters, helping you to achieve that all-important balance, stay healthy and be well. The 4-Hour Workweek is an excellent book – does it have any take-aways you can use for yourself?
- 14. Learn about the power of delegation. Surround yourself with people who can do a brilliant job of the things you don't have time for, dislike, don't understand or are rubbish at
Find out what you're good at and what you're less good at. Know there's a limit to the things you can do on your own. Then discover the power of collaboration, using other people's skills and expertise to send you in the right direction. You're brilliant. You can do it. And we can help you do it!
Not every young entrepreneur will be able to reach the dizzy heights that some have achieved but having the right support around you is even more important when you are facing the business world for the first time. At Sussex Business Bureau we are happy to provide business support services to the young, and the old.
To find out more about we can help budding entrepreneurs call us on 01273 447111