First Steps in Becoming a Teenage Entrepreneur

Jennifer L. Betts
Teen feeling success in business

You're never too young to start your own business. With a one-in-a-million idea, your small dreams can turn into big profits. It's all about taking the first step through finding an idea, doing the research and knowing that you're going to make mistakes along the way.

Finding the Right Idea

Several young entrepreneurs have an epiphany moment where they realize this would be a great idea and hit the ground running, but others have to start with finding an idea. Finding the right idea is one of the most important aspects of becoming an entrepreneur.

Look at Your Interests

Businesses are a dime a dozen. For you to start a business that is successful, you need to look at what you are interested in. Ask yourself:

  • What is your passion?
  • What do you want to do as a career?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What don't you like?

The answer is going to be your niche market. Maybe you are amazing at writing or your skills lie in animation. You might have a strong interest in science and how things work. Whatever your interest, this is your market.

Think About Your Strong Skills

Interests and skills go hand-in-hand. Not only do you need to look at your talents, like math genius, but also your soft skills. Are you good at talking to people and creating presentations? Are your communication skills top notch? It's not just this either. You need to know if you're self-motivated and good at time management. Without these, your business might not get off the ground. Having problem-solving skills and a positive attitude are also a must.

Find a Need

While creating an epic new product is great, it's more about finding a problem and solving it. For example, creating a new Snapchat app probably won't take you very far unless you can offer something Snapchat isn't to the masses. Remember, people didn't realize that they needed Facebook until Zuckerberg came up with the idea. Original ideas that solve a problem for people are the most successful.

Get Support

You've never ran your own business before. Having a professional that is in your field that has done it before can be a detrimental support system. There are a few ways you can find a mentor like:

  • Find a local person that has started their own business.
  • Use social media to find a person of interest and friend them.
  • Go to a professional industry event.
  • Use a professional mentoring service like MicroMentor.
  • Ask a teacher or parent where you might find a mentor.
  • Volunteer or complete an internship in your area.

Marketing Research

So, you've got an idea, and it's amazing. After not being able to open your water bottle at school, you created this bomb bottle opening mechanism. You know that everyone is going to love it. But are they? This is where marketing research can come into play

Teen pinning up market research to analyze

Determine Your Needs

Looking at other companies or people that will buy your product or service is also going to tell you what you are going to need to get started. Filling your needs is important because this ensures that you can get the product or service to the customer on time. Being able to provide the product on-time and without issues is important to make sure that your clients keep growing. If you provide a web streaming service that promises shows every Tuesday and Thursday but miss one, then your business will never grow.

Decide on Your Market

Once you tackle down what you need then you need to figure out where. You need to figure out if you are going to have an online audience, sell at a local farmers market, have an online store, etc. You then need to look at how others have had the most success in that market.

Find Your Target Audience

Once you know what people need, then you need to figure out who needs it. Can everyone utilize your bottle opener or is it just for teens? You can use market research like observation, surveys and looking at other companies with a similar product to figure out who you should target your product or service to.

Look at Costs

Costs can make or break your business. Unless your family is really generous or you've been saving for years, you're probably not rolling in the Benjamins. However, depending on your idea or service, you need to figure out how much you are going to need. After configuring your start-up costs, determine where the money is going to come from. You might not be old enough to get a loan; therefore, you might need to look at other avenues like asking your parents or getting a new job. You can even start an online campaign through sites like Kickstarter.

What You Need to Know

Starting a business is going to be tough. It takes a lot of figurative or literal blood, sweat and tears. This is not a gold paved road. You will need to work to be successful.

Time Constraints

Before starting your own business, you need to be realistic. Look at your schedule and see how much time you have to commit. Not only do you have school work but you have after school commitments as well. Budgeting your time is going to be important for success. You'll need to:

  • Write down how much time you can commit and keep your schedule. This might mean missing that epic party.
  • Prioritize what you are going to complete and how. Using a day planner app can be your best friend.
  • Stay organized. If you don't have to spend 10 minutes finding your tools, you're wasting precious time.

Create a Routine

Routines take months but once you have them down, then it's second nature. Not only do you want to maintain a routine for when and how you conduct your business but also for your health as well. Not only can being healthy and having a routine keep you positive but lessen stress. Above all, don't procrastinate. Putting off what you need to do today to tomorrow will only stress you out.

Set Attainable Goals

Along with celebrating, you need to set goals that you can hit. You need both short- and long-term goals that you want to achieve. It can also be helpful to write down why you started this business in the first place and keep it somewhere you can see every day. This can help to be a motivator.

Teen packing boxes to mail

Prepare to Mess Up

Not only are you young but becoming an entrepreneur is a difficult task. You can and will make mistakes. These mistakes are going to be what makes your business grow and you make bigger and better inventions. Therefore, don't just give up the first time you fail. Use that failure to improve your product or service.

Success Takes Time

You might be that strange lottery winner that becomes an overnight success. But for most, success isn't instant. Creating a new company takes time, lots of time. Be prepared to be in it for the long, rough road.

Stay Positive

Celebrate each small success. It might be your first customer or your first $100. No matter how small, celebrating each different milestone that you cross can help you to stay positive. Keeping a positive outlook and looking for innovative ways to solve issues can stop you from being one of the 20% of businesses that fail.

Getting Your Business Started

Not only do you have school but extracurricular activities and a social life as well. You can't even fathom how you can become an entrepreneur. But with a little bit of ingenuity, dedication and motivation, you can become your own boss.

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First Steps in Becoming a Teenage Entrepreneur