The Checklist Every Young Entrepreneur Needs Right Now
Becoming an entrepreneur at a young age can be exhilarating. It allows you to be creative. You make your own money. You can bring real change to your community – or the world. Entrepreneurship gives you wonderful opportunities to network, develop leadership skills, and grow into a successful young adult. And, let’s be honest, it looks impressive on college and scholarship applications!
But entrepreneurship can be challenging. Those of you who’ve never started or run a business before (so, probably most of you) might feel overwhelmed by how much you need to do. Don’t give up before you’ve even started! Think of this checklist as the GPS on your entrepreneurial journey. Take it one step at a time and you’ll get where you need to be.
ITEM 1: BUILD YOUR CONFIDENCE
Easier said than done, right? But one thing all successful entrepreneurs have in common is that they believed in themselves from the start. Every single entrepreneurial journey will have setbacks. There will be times when you feel like you should just quit. There will be unexpected detours you aren’t sure how to navigate. There will be hits to your self-esteem. But if you don’t have faith in yourself to make your dreams come true, it’ll never happen. How will investors, mentors, or others believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself?
Everyone struggles with self-confidence now and then. Articles like this one can do wonders to help you feel better about yourself.
ITEM 2: HAVE AN IDEA
You can’t make something out of nothing. Your idea will set the foundation for your business. Start with something you’re good at and enjoy doing. Or start with something you want to learn more about!
Next, think about ways you can turn this idea into a business, aka monetizing. Is there something you can make and sell (or resell)? A service you can provide? A way of doing things that’s better than the old way?
ITEM 3: FIND YOUR MARKET
Just because you have a brilliant idea for a business (and we know you are brilliant), doesn’t mean the world is ready for it. People want things that will make them happier, richer, more loved, or that will make their lives easier. But you also need good timing. Ask family and friends what they think of your idea. Would they use your product? Would they hire your service? Would they pay for what you’re offering? Ask them to be honest so you don’t waste time building a business that’s too far ahead of its time to succeed.
ITEM 4: CHECK YOUR COMPETITORS
While everyone likes to think that their idea is unique and new, chances are someone out there already does what you want to do. Or something similar. UberEats didn’t invent food delivery. Radio dramas existed before podcasts. Everyone had Blackberrys before they had iPhones. And so on. Yet, who would consider UberEats, podcasts, or iPhones failures?
Therefore, it’s important to research your competition before you get started. It’s fine to offer a similar product or service. But how is yours different? Why is it better?
ITEM 5: GET FUNDING
There’s an old saying that “it takes money to make money.” That’s especially true for young entrepreneurs who are just starting! You’ll need access to funds before you can truly start your business. Why?
- Buying raw materials to make your product
- Website hosting
- Paid ads
- Tools to provide your service
- Professional apps and software
- Packaging and shipping costs
Ways you can acquire start-up funds:
- Venture capital investors
- Your personal savings account
- Crowdsourcing (GoFundMe or Kickstarter)
- Entering and winning a business competition for high school students
ITEM 6: CREATE A BUSINESS PLAN
If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: you need a business plan. Once you check off the above 5 items, making a business plan should be a piece of cake.
This checklist is your GPS on your entrepreneurial journey. And a business plan is the best route to your destination. (Which is success!)
ITEM 7: CREATE A MARKETING STRATEGY
This should be both part of your business plan as well as a separate document. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or complicated. But a solid marketing strategy will let your target customers know about your service or product (remember #3?) and bring money into your business. Consider:
- Who is your target customer?
- Where do you find them? (Facebook? Farmer’s markets? At school?)
- How do you get their attention?
- Why should they visit your website or online shop?
- How can you make their customer experience as easy and pleasurable as possible?
- What can you offer to encourage them to come back for more and tell others about your business (aka “word of mouth” or “viral” advertising)?
ITEM 8: BUILD YOUR PRODUCT OR SET UP YOUR SERVICE
Even lemonade stands need to have a product (lemonade) before they can start selling. Build prototypes so you can figure out what needs changing or improving. Offer your service for free to a few customers to get a sense of how things run.
Even if you’ve financed your startup through crowdsourcing, you need something to show your online investors. Blog updates are great, but photos of prototypes or your service in action are better. They are your way of saying, “You made a good investment!”
ITEM 9: LAUNCH!
That’s it! You’ve checked off all the items on this checklist. Now it’s time to get out there and show everyone what a bright, energetic, and high-achieving young entrepreneur you are!
Let your business plan and marketing strategy be your guide. Use that self-confidence advice to stay motivated. Stay on top of your competition. Most of all, have fun!
Absolutely anyone can become an entrepreneur. With a little preparation, you’ll have everything you need to be the most successful young entrepreneur you can be!
Click here to learn how the Kantner Foundation helps young entrepreneurs by offering college scholarships to Florida high school students.