A million dollar teen? Impossible, you may be thinking. News Flash!
Success is not limited to any age. No, to the Christian, success is not determined by a dollar amount. However, the fact is, you can increase your odds at success and even financial success by beginning early so why not become a teenage entrepreneur and jumpstart your business and usefulness in this life? Every young person has great ideas but typically does not know how to take them to the next level. This is not surprising because we have not programmed our young people to become entrepreneurs. We are not training youth to think about what they can contribute to our world. They have not been trained to use their strengths, to utilize their talents and gifts to their full potential in becoming an employer that hires others rather than being an employee that works for someone else. The teen years are the perfect time to use fresh brain power, young vitality and enthusiasm to become entrepreneurs.
It is true, becoming a successful, young entrepreneur can be challenging even with some planning. However, the rewards are well worth the time and effort. But first of all, you need to plan to succeed ahead of time to ensure success. In other words, identify and set your goals but keep them realistic, then work your plan but remain flexible as it may be necessary to adjust your plan along the way. Surround yourself with successful people, people that have made right decisions, people that think big but are cautious and prudent about money, especially your money.
For example, consider ahead of time how you will get word out about your product or service. Marketing is everything, especially when you do not yet have happy and satisfied customers to spread the word about your great company, product and service. You will no doubt be dealing with all types of personalities so learn to love and appreciate differences and the individuality of others. It cannot be expressed enough the importance of good customer service. You want happy, satisfied customers as they will always be your best advertisers. And once you begin to make some money, invest that money back into your company or business so it can expand or improve.
This is a time to be honest with yourself. Not everyone has what it takes or the aptitude to become an entrepreneur. Look at your strengths and weaknesses as well as your knowledge and experience. Do you have the personality and temperament? How would you deal with failure and hardships which are certain to come before you actually experience success? Do you have at least some financial backing or enough start-up money? What gets you excited? Are you creative? And most importantly, can you identify problems and are you able to find solutions. An entrepreneur, at any age, must be a problem solver. What if you failed at your first business venture? Would you be willing to try another type of business? In other words, are you determined to do whatever it takes to be successful?
Many people have great ideas but few actually act on their ideas. They simply are not self-starters and they lack motivation. One needs to have good health and be physically active to endure the long hours that often accompany a start-up business. You must be tenacious and determined. Know ahead of time, just how much time you can put into this business. There is the temptation, especially if you have a home business to take time off because something more interesting comes along. You must treat your new business as if you have a manager to answer to because you do….it is you! But be realistic about the hours you can actually work. If you are still in school or working another part-time job then figure this into the actual hours you can commit to this new venture. Then set the number of hours you can work and let nothing keep you from your job.
You also need to be able to take counsel from other entrepreneurs and learn from their experience. Seek wise counsel from those older such as other established, successful business owners. Ask them how they would grow your business if they were in your shoes. Talk with other young entrepreneurs. If possible, work in a business for a year or two similar to what you wish to start so you can see how the owner does things to grow his business. Maybe you can even work alongside him or her for a period of time. This would be time well spent.
It is also important to be excited about your possible business venture. Would you do this if you never received a paycheck? It is much easier to be committed if you genuinely like what you do. Take reasonable risks and don’t risk any more money than you know you can comfortably afford to lose in the event that this business venture does not turn out to match you big dreams.
It is important to know who you are targeting; who actually needs or will purchase your service or product? In fact, who would you like to purchase your product or service? Who is your competition? Are there other businesses in your area that are doing similar to what you plan to do?
Test your product or service with your friends, family members and ask them to give you their honest feedback and make changes accordingly. Success will eventually come if you are passionate about what you do. Your high energy just may inspire other investors that would be willing to help you grow your business.
Where is your new business going to be located or is it going to be a home-based business? There are some serious advantages in having a home-based business including convenience. Overhead can be costly and if walk-ins are necessary to the success of your business location can be important.
Can you use social media to expand your business and let your target audience know about promotions you may have?
Grow slowly and don’t expand too fast. Know what equipment, tools and supplies you will need and how much this will cost. Many businesses fail because they invest in too much stock. Remember those are dollar bills setting on the shelf and some may have an expiration date. You can always order more as you need them. Don’t allow yourself to be taken in by a convincing sales person that tells you it is better to purchase 20 of an item because of the better price break when you only need 3 or 4. You can use that extra money for promotions, advertising and maybe even other ventures.
Be willing to be versatile and don’t get stuck in a rut by doing the same thing, the same old way because it worked for you once. People progress as will other similar businesses and you must keep up with the pace.
One excellent way to become an entrepreneur is to work in the family business while you are still in school. Mom and Dad have already done the ground work and have a customer base and no doubt could use your help. You may even be able to bring new ideas to the table that can help grow this family business. By the time they are ready to retire, you will already be prepared to take it over and possibly take it to a whole new level. This early on the job training will be invaluable for many years to come.
Another reason to start a business when you are young is that you don’t have a family to distract you to divide your time and energies. You actually jumpstart your life and perhaps can retire earlier than most while all the while doing something that brings you fulfillment. After time you may be creating jobs for others, and remember you are making a contribution to your community while enjoying a living a successful meaningful and productive life. It is so satisfying to know that you have actually built something from the ground up, made it grow and have made others life a little better. You will be contributing back to society in a way that will bring you much personal satisfaction.
Being an entrepreneur has many personal benefits. It will grow your character, develop patience, teach you responsibility, you will be more in tune to the needs of others and more aware of the environment around you. You will learn to work and interact with others, and you will encourage and help them find personal satisfaction in their work. I can’t think of anything more valuable in life than acquiring people skills.
You will also build other entrepreneurs by your example and you will have the privilege to watch and help them climb their ladder of success. You will become a better problem solver. You will also become an opportunist as you will look for and see other new opportunities for yourself or to help others achieve the same success you are enjoying.
You will learn to be more persuasive as you convince others of their need of your service or product, your communication skills will develop as you never thought possible. Last but certainly not least, you will make many lasting friends. So why not start now in your teen years? What is holding you back? You can start small and you just may surprise yourself at what you are capable of accomplishing not only for yourself but for others also.
Just think of the many and varied ways you can use your influence and business savvy in your business to advance the gospel of Christ. There will be many opportunities to give your testimony, give out literature, guest speak in various organizations, inspire and encourage others and can be an example of integrity in business.
I hope you are convinced that being young is an advantage that can actually help you become a successful entrepreneur. The teen years are not the time to bury your talents as the world needs you and the Lord will guide and help you. So won’t you trust the Lord, watch for His providence, and listen to that still small voice. The teen years are a perfect time to “let your light so shine before men that they will see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). Jeremiah 29: 11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.”
A young Christian’s righteous life, sweet attitude along with their good works, including pure conversation, and faithful obedience must not be hidden for “Ye are the salt of the earth” (Mathew 5:16). There is nothing more impressive or influential than a truly converted young person that God wants to bless for all to see.