A substantial number of young entrepreneurs has been detected in South Africa.
A survey by Seed Academy says business owners between the ages of 18 and 34 decreased by nearly 6 percent in 2017.
While it may be true that young entrepreneurs face many challenges – from financial limitations, to simply not being taken seriously by potential vendors, clients, and funders who may not appreciate the value of young entrepreneurs – it is important to emphasize that entrepreneurs are self-reliant by definition. It means that even if conditions are not optimal, a determined entrepreneur should be able to seek and find alternative ways to facilitate the start or growth of their business.
There is no reason why young entrepreneurs should feel discouraged from starting their own business. By following the five basic rules of entrepreneurship, they can make their journey to business success significantly less challenging.
Many successful entrepreneurs consult the same mentor throughout their entrepreneurial journey while others look for a new one every time they take on a new project or venture. The mentor should be someone that the entrepreneur can trust and feel comfortable with. He or she should be able to identify the successful as well as the struggling parts of the business in order to provide valuable assistance.
Finding a suitable expert for their unique situation can sometimes be challenging. But a professional consultants or an experienced entrepreneur can also be a worthy source of advice.
For the young entrepreneur to be taken in the absence of life experience is important. It is vital for new businesses to proactively manage the perception that outside parties may hold. The same goes for a careful creation, management and defence of the brand. Beyond being merely a symbol, a brand is the sum of the experiences that a customer may have with a business. This means that communication, customer service, product quality and everyday operations all need to be perfectly aligned to successfully broadcast one clear message about the company.
Fortunately, a massive budget is not necessary to build a brand anymore. Social media and affordable web hosting makes it possible to communicate a business’s message to customers affordably. Entrepreneurs need to ensure that the positive message being broadcast to audiences is backed up with superior service.
The ability to network is a skill that every entrepreneur needs to acquire as potential clients may be present at social events, conferences, or even in an actual elevator. Being able to describe the business and its purpose as simply and as clearly as possible to potential clients and investors is central to getting the most out of networking opportunities. An elevator pitch is a summary of the business in less than 30-seconds to tell any stranger about the company with enthusiasm, clarity, and in a way that leaves a lasting impression. The best way to develop it is to closely analyse the business model and to write down the most concise description for the range of goods or services offered. Rewrite and summarise this description until it is no longer than 50 – 100 words. Lastly, be ready to explain the business to anyone at any time.
Waiting for financial investment is often one of the first reasons that entrepreneurial ventures fail, so it’s usually better for business owners to invest their own capital first. This is easier said than done considering the many challenges young people face. Saving money towards your future business usually requires a frugal mentality and the ability to stay within a budget. Your family can also be a source of affordable capital as can a deposit from your first client. The biggest benefit is that business owners can prove that they are able to turn a profit with their own cash to investors and funders, which is exceedingly attractive and makes the next stage of the venture’s growth that much easier.
The most accomplished entrepreneurs are those who never stop reading and learning. Entrepreneurs who make a determined effort to continually develop their skills are better resources or assets to their businesses. As such, it is ideal for entrepreneurs to read widely and take advantage of online courses or free SETA-hosted training programmes which can contribute to their development.
Despite the various challenges faced by young entrepreneurs, it’s clear that they have a lot to offer the business world. Following these simple guidelines and never giving in to the barriers will put the young entrepreneur ahead of the curve in no time.
Ben Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited.
The views expressed here are not necessarily those of The Young Independents.