This is a guest post by Christine DiGangi, a reporter and the social media editor for Credit. Her writing has been featured on USA Today, MSN, Yahoo! Finance and The New York Times International Weekly, among other outlets.
Young entrepreneurs often face the challenge of having to do a lot with limited resources, but there’s one thing that’s never in short supply: knowledgeable advice from established business owners already in the field.
Millions of people have wisdom to share from their own small-business experiences – today there are 28 million small businesses in the U.S, according to the Small Business Administration – and while advice can sometimes be overwhelming, it can certainly come in handy.
For those just starting out, it can be helpful to hear from people who’ve already found success creating their own companies. We reached out to some entrepreneurs and asked them to share their top tips for millennials trying to make it on their own.
Don’t Overlook Legal Stuff
Starting a business is much more than coming up with a good idea, and if you’re not a fan of paperwork, maybe the entrepreneurial life isn’t for you. Don’t gloss over the mundane legal details of establishing a business.
“Often, entrepreneurs think of a great trademark and start using it without the proper clearance searches to ensure the name is not already taken,” said Sonia Lakhany, who runs her own law firm in Atlanta and Los Angeles. “This is a totally separate (and misunderstood) process from forming an LLC or Corporation with a Secretary of State, or purchasing a domain name … Entrepreneurs and startups, particularly millennials, skip this step due to cost and budget reasons, but as you can imagine, skimping on the protection of your business name puts the entire venture at risk.”
… Or Money Stuff
Especially when you’re starting out, your personal finances will likely play a huge role in your business finances.
It’s important to know that if you’re applying for business financing or bank accounts, potential creditors may look at your personal credit history. If you’re using a consumer credit card to finance business purchases, pay close attention to the APRs so you minimize the amount of debt you accrue.
This guide to low interest credit cards can help you research your options – if you find that you’re taking on debt using a credit card with a high interest rate, you may want to consider a balance transfer credit card to help you save money and get out of the red.
“The most important thing to do before starting a business is to look at your finances — really look at them — and mark out every single item that you are willing to sacrifice,” said Jenny Dorsey, who runs her own culinary consulting practice, which she started at 23. “Because at some point you very [well] may have to, and if you aren’t prepared for that it will be a painful reality check you’re not ready for.”
Keep Your Fears in Check
Starting a business is risky, and it’s important to balance that with a certain amount of caution, but too much can stand in the way of your success.
“The best advice I’ve gotten probably has been just don’t be afraid to go for it,” said Jill Dretzka, who also started her marketing company, Spark + Influence, at 23. She said that tip applied not only to getting started as an entrepreneur but in times when she wants to try something new in her business. She said some entrepreneurs obsess over perfecting a product or offering before actually releasing it and miss out on valuable feedback. “Once it’s out there you can collect feedback, see if it’s working, see if there’s demand, and then you can learn more about the market and the audience.”
Do What You Love
It sounds obvious, but passion goes a long way toward being a successful entrepreneur.
Hahn Nguyen, CEO of Glamoutfit, an app that helps you put together outfits based on what’s in your closet, said some people are just attracted to the idea of starting a business and don’t care enough about what the business actually is.
“Without the passion and the belief, you will have a hard time pulling through,” she said. She started her first company at 23. “Pick something you don’t mind working 100 hours a week on, something you believe in so much that you’re willing to sell all your possessions — I sold my house and my car to fund my business — to make it happen because you just know that it will be successful.”
Becoming an entrepreneur at a young age gives you the advantage of time – time to make mistakes, and time to try again. Use this to your advantage, and start putting your business plan into action today!
What other things should young entrepreneurs keep in mind?
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