Today’s entrepreneurs are the true movers and shakers of the world – brave people who aren’t afraid to take big risks and put themselves out there in the name of change.
The millennial generation is already one of the most pivotal in human history. For young people all over the globe, it’s an exciting time to get involved in business and economy.
Maybe you’re already working on a great idea on the side, or perhaps you’re just starting to entertain the thought of creating your own business — no matter where you are in the process, you see yourself as an entrepreneur.
Striking out on your own is both exciting and a little nerve-wracking regardless of how old you are, but if you’re on the younger side, you might benefit from the wisdom other people have gained in their years of working for themselves. We asked some people who have been through it before to share their tips for millennial entrepreneurs.
1. Embrace uncertainty
Hahn Nguyen started her first company when she was 23 and is now the founder and CEO of Glamoutfit, an app that helps women put together outfits based on what’s already in their closets. She said the best advice she ever received was not not be afraid of being wrong.
“[There’s] so much uncertainty in business,” she said. “The thing is, you cannot make the best decision every time. Just doing something is better than nothing.”
As the old saying goes, there’s nothing to it but to do it. Embrace the fact that you’re new to the game and you’ll need a some help to achieve your goals along the way.
2. Take a really close look at your finances
Several of the entrepreneurs we talked to stressed the importance of money — know what you’re willing to sacrifice, avoid debt if you can help it and know when to be frugal and when it’s worth spending a little extra.
But before you even start your business, you have to take stock of where you are financially. “Identify how personal bills will be paid as you grow the business,” said Deborah Meyer, a certified public accountant, certified financial planner and CEO of WorthyNest, a fee-only financial planning firm.
The typical rule of thumb for emergency funds is having three to six months’ worth of expenses in the bank, but people looking to own their own business should aim for 12, she said. “Most business failures happen because the owner cannot personally afford to pay their bills. Business costs may be under control, but the owner cannot take enough draw from the business to support his/her personal lifestyle.”
Meyer also highlighted the importance of knowing your credit score and having good credit if you’re a first-time business owner. Having no credit or bad credit doesn’t have to keep you from pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams, but you’ll need to focus on developing sound financial behaviors to get things off the ground.
For example, secured credit cards can help you start building credit, if you’ve had trouble in the past or haven’t used credit before, because they’re relatively easy to qualify for. The Small Business Administration is also a great resource for understanding your financing options as an entrepreneur.
“Credit card providers and loan officers will carefully examine your personal credit score since your company has no credit history,” she said. Once you’ve setup the business, you can open business accounts to separate it from your personal finances and establish credit for your business.
3. Don’t be afraid to pivot
Jill Dretzka started her own marketing firm, Spark + Influence, soon after finishing college, but in the six years since then, her business offerings and goals have changed a lot. She said she had to learn to recognize when something wasn’t working and let it go.
“The goals will change, the circumstances will change — be open minded to the journey of where you can take your business,” she said. “The trends are always changing, so there’s always new stuff to be learned.”
Set realistic goals for yourself, and remember that being flexible is a conscious skill that you must practice if you want to see the benefits.
4. Listen to feedback…
Jojo Hedeya, a millennial and CEO of email subscription management tool Unroll.me, said it’s important to pay as much attention to criticism as you do to praise.
“The unexpected key to success is the ability to receive criticism from everyone,” he said. “Though difficult to swallow, taking this negative feedback – and adapting based around that feedback – is the key. I have found that when you listen to ‘no,’ you end up knowing yourself, your business, and your customer better than you would surrounded by ‘yes’ people.”
5….But don’t let it overwhelm you
When you decide to go solo, you get a lot of unsolicited advice, said Brittany Taylor, who started her brand-storytelling company SeeBrittWrite when she was 27. Keep in mind that advice may not be relevant to you.
“If the things these people tell you that you need to do feel uncomfortable to you — or simply not what you want your business to be — ask yourself why you’re feeling that way,” she said. “Do address your fears, but don’t feel like you have to take every piece of advice from a seasoned business pro like it’s the gospel. In a changing world, there is no gospel.”
6. Do what you love
Craig Wolfe didn’t have any business experience when, at age 34, he created his company CelebriDucks, which sells celebrity-lookalike rubber ducks. Because of that, he was surprised he found success.
“It showed me that passion is highly undervalued,” he said. “If you are doing something you ABSOLUTELY love you will find a way to be successful because it will be infused with your energy and enthusiasm and thus you’ll figure out what you need to know.”
Being young gives you time to explore your options and the freedom to find out how you can start a business doing something you are legitimately passionate about. Don’t wait – take the next step forward and start putting this advice to work!