With the popularity of shows like Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank, the increasing focus on entrepreneurship at colleges, and the fact that job security as an employee is becoming a thing of the past, more and more teens are looking to entrepreneurship. In fact, you might be surprised just how many teens are already running their own businesses on weekends and after school, and it’s one of the most impressive things a high schooler can do.
Entrepreneurship is clearly a growing field, and the growing respect for it is quite apparent. College admissions officers actively seek out entrepreneurial candidates to admit to top universities, so there are many benefits of pursuing this avenue early. If you are a high school student and aspiring entrepreneur, there’s no reason to delay in beginning your entrepreneurial journey.
As a motivated go-getter and self-starter, you’re most likely beyond equipped to start a business. At Beta Bowl, we mentor you in order to help you develop the confidence and business skills to bring your ideas to fruition. Here are a few tips that can help you fast-track your progress.
Find Something You’re Passionate About
Your first business doesn’t have to be your last business, and it doesn’t have to be the next Google or Facebook, but it would be a lot more enjoyable and a lot easier if you start by pursuing something you’re already passionate about. When you start a business, there’s going to be a learning curve no matter what, so the more you know or care about the topic or industry at hand, the more palatable the challenges will be.
Also, if you do have a unique talent, long-time hobby, or expertise, starting a business around it can easily boost your credibility and knowledge from day one, which can accelerate your success, as well. Not only will you have a leg up in terms of knowledge about and interest in the topic, but you can also tout your former experience to your future customers, which is a great way to solidify your reputation in an industry, even if you are a young entrepreneur and new to the game.
However, even if you don’t have a unique skill, hobby, or special talent, or expertise about which you want to build a business, finding something you have a real interest in or passion for is almost as good. The biggest thing you want to avoid is building a business that even you, the entrepreneur, dislike or get bored of. If you’re not in love with the idea you’re pursuing, how can you expect anyone else to be?
By joining Beta Bowl, you gain access to a testing platform for your ideas. With our enrichment programs, you’ll develop a pitch deck, create a business model, and gain insight from mentors to figure out how feasible your idea is and whether or not you should pursue it. Plus, you’ll further develop your entrepreneurial skills no matter what idea you eventually decide to pursue.
Identify a Problem to Fix
The best and easiest way to get sales in any business, regardless of how new it is, is to solve your customer’s problem. If you, your peers, family, or anyone you know is experiencing a problem in life, see if there’s a solution you can create to fix it. It could be a problem you see in your day-to-day life or a larger-scale problem you see in our society or the world, but a business built around solving people’s problems is a slam-dunk and a surefire path to success.
That said, sometimes it’s hard to find a problem for which you can come up with a unique solution. If you can’t find a problem lacking a solution, you can also look for inefficiencies and current solutions that are okay or good, but not great. If you can make something better, faster, or cheaper than the current solutions, you’re improving your customers’ lives, and that’s almost as good as solving their current problems.
Find a Mentor
Mentors are often the secret to success for many successful young entrepreneurs-to-be. No matter what industry or field your idea or future business is in, there will be some successful people who have gone before you. These are the exact people who can show you the ropes, make helpful introductions, give much-needed industry-specific feedback, and point you on your way while helping you bypass many common pitfalls.
The beauty of successful people like this is that oftentimes, they’re flattered by a younger person asking for their mentorship, so they often go out of their way to connect you and help you succeed. There are countless stories of masters taking their proteges under their wing and guiding them to be the next success story in their field. Entrepreneurship is the best place to seek out and cling to these mentors because people like to help people succeed, especially when taking on the challenge of building a business up from scratch.
Unlike the competitive workforce, the entrepreneurial community is much more centered on connections, friendships, and synergies, and using that community to your advantage is a no-brainer. Furthermore, as a teen or high school student, your youth can come as a huge advantage. Successful adults in your field are often much more eager to help foster the success of the next generation than to simply further the careers of their peers, so you could easily find your best brand champion in your mentor.
Ready for entrepreneurial mentorship? Find out how your ideas can come to life with Beta Bowl.
If your idea requires some startup capital, which many do, you’re in luck, because there are tons of avenues to obtain funding these days. Of course, not every idea does require funding, and if you’ve worked a summer job and have saved your wages, investing in yourself and your business can be the best use of your savings. However, if you’ve determined that outside funding is the way to go, starting with friends and family is the first option. More companies than you realize began with friends and family funds – even those that went on to raise multiple angels and venture capital rounds, participate in accelerators, and sell for millions of dollars.
Friends and Family
Even if you’re presenting your idea to friends and family with a request for funding, you should present it as a business opportunity, know exactly how much money you’re asking for and what you need it for, and keep track of any funding you do receive. If you determine that you need more money than the friends and family route can afford, the next option would be to either pursue a crowdfunding campaign or apply for an accelerator.
A crowdfunding campaign, like on one Kickstarter or Indiegogo, is great because it enables you to gauge and confirm interest, even presales, before sinking funds into your idea, and this also ensures that you’re creating something with a ready audience of interested buyers. There are both rewards-based and equity-based crowdfunding sites, though, for a first-time entrepreneur, rewards-based crowdfunding is the simpler way to go.
If you determine that your idea is more of a business-to-business offer, or simply something that won’t resonate with a crowdfunding campaign, you may want to go the startup incubator or accelerator route. Startup accelerators have blown up over the past ten years, with most notably Y Combinator, but many similar peers like 500 Startups, Techstars, and many more. A quick Google search can help you identify the various startup accelerators and determine which if any are right for your business.
They typically have different accelerator sessions and application deadlines, but a simple application could be enough to secure you $100k in funding and entry into the accelerator of your dreams, so it’s definitely an avenue worth exploring.
Finally, beyond accelerators would-be angel investors and venture capitalists. If you do have connections to investors, high net worth individuals, or friends or family working in Silicon Valley, you may want to pursue the angel investor or venture capital route. However, you should be aware that these types of investors often expect outsized returns on their investment, so if you aren’t planning to give up 20% equity or more and don’t think a $10+ million dollar valuation is likely in the near future, you may want to hold off on this option.
Find out how our financial literacy courses can help you develop your entrepreneurial skills.
Understand That Mistakes Can Help You Learn
No one likes to make mistakes, but the great thing about entrepreneurship is that mistakes are often called “Research and Development” or “Beta Testing”. Mistakes are nothing to shy away from; in fact, big companies run large market testing campaigns all the time to see what mistakes they’re making and how they can improve their offers.
The most important thing when it comes to mistakes and entrepreneurship is to evaluate your progress or any mistakes you make, analyze why and how the mistake occurred, tweak or change your offer to mitigate the mistake and reevaluate the updated offer. As long as you evaluate, record, and reevaluate every mistake along the way, you’ll have a clear path of improvement and a trajectory of constantly learning, tweaking, and growing.
Plus, almost every interview and college application you’ll find will ask you to describe an experience of failure and how you dealt with it. Depicting how you overcame an entrepreneurial failure and tweaked it for success is an impressive answer most likely to trump your competitors.
Get Started Now!
The biggest piece of advice most startup mentors, consultants, and accelerators give to newbies and aspiring entrepreneurs is to start as soon as possible. The earlier you attempt your idea, the sooner you know what will work and what won’t. There’s absolutely no benefit in delaying out of fear or uncertainty. The same fear and concerns will be there now as they will next year, but the first person to launch the idea will be the first one to identify, fix, and move beyond any initial problems they encounter.
Like most things in life, there are always reasons and excuses to delay, delay, delay…but the difference here with entrepreneurship is that the longer you delay, the more opportunity you give your competitors – the hungrier aspiring entrepreneurs – to come from right under your nose and beat you to launching your own idea. If you don’t want to let that happen, you might as well dive in and give it your all now!
Entrepreneurship is one of the greatest experiences a teen can pursue. Building a business, whether it succeeds or flops, is a huge testament to the founder’s creativity, independence, perseverance, and mental fortitude. It’s also one of the most rewarding learning experiences a person can have, and the skills you develop building a business are skills that can serve you well and transfer over into almost every other aspect of your life.
You’ll develop your resourcefulness, your salesmanship, your communication skills, your confidence, your problem-solving abilities, your business acumen, and so much more. If you’re a teen with a bit of motivation, or you’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, there’s no better time to try your hand at building your business. Check out our course packages at Beta Bowl to start expanding your entrepreneurial skills now.