The job market landscape is certainly changing, particularly for Generation Y. Freelancing is no longer just a wild option for free spirits, and in some cases, starting one’s own business right after college can sense, too.
Career experts like Shawn Graham, who wrote a recent piece about Generation Y career paths for Fast Company, say the under-30 generation wants more satisfaction from their jobs and more autonomy over their lives, making starting a business attractive.
If you’re in this group or advising a wannabe young entrepreneur, here are 6 points to consider before launching a new business, directly from successful young business founders.
1. Name: Robert Livingstone
Age: 26Company: Ideal Cost, a national merchant consultancy specializing in the credit card processing space. Over $1 Billion in annual transaction volume.
Tip: “Focus. Many businesses fail because they try to offer too many services and too immediately want to be everything to everyone. It’s important to focus on developing your business with a very targeted product or service to sell to a particular type of business or individual.”
2. Name: Antoine Azar
Company: 2XM Interactive, which creates mobile apps and interactive touch installations. More than $1 million in annual revenue.
Tip: “Be very careful when starting up with co-founders. This is even more serious than a marriage. If all co-founders are not perfectly clear and aligned on the goals of the business, the business will fail. I’ve seen many start-ups with fantastic products struggle to near-death only because of co-founder issues.”
3. Name: Erica Zidel
Company: Sitting Around, a company that makes parents’ lives easier through a complete end-to-end childcare system. 88 per cent month-over-month growth since launch, featured in the New York Times and Real Simple magazine.
Tip: “Talk to your customers. Don’t assume you know what your customers want. You’ll be surprised — and most often, you’ll be wrong. There are many ways to solicit user feedback: email, surveys, focus groups, etc. Get creative, get out there, and listen.”
4. Name: Emily Dubner
Company: Baking for Good, an online bakery inspired by the idea of a bake sale. Has partnered with over 200 national and local non-profits, and donated over $25,000 to these charities since September 2009.
Tip: “Start small. Test out your concept on friends and family prior to raising money or investing a significant amount of savings. Being frugal in the beginning will help you focus on what’s really important and refine your concept before you try to go big.”
5. Name: Taryn Scher
Company: TK PR, a public relations and event planning company that specialises in luxury lifestyle brands. Three-and-a-half years into the business, TK PR has worked with more than four dozen brands in 10 states.
Tip: “Have a mentor. Everyone should have someone that they look up to that can offer them advice from time to time. Maybe you offer to buy them lunch for two hours of their expertise. Everyone needs a sounding board — someone who has been in the business longer and been through similar experiences. It will be the best $10 lunch you’ve ever spent.”
6. Name: Ben Sann
Company: BestParking, a parking decision engine that steers motorists to the cheapest and closest parking garages and lots in 30 North American cities and 79 airports. Featured in Inc. magazine’s 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30 list.
Tip: “If you’re considering hiring a developer for a website or application, it’s best to select an individual (or team of individuals) rather than a firm. If you hire a full-service company, you will be assigned a project manager, who is an extra intermediary between you and the programmer. You’re also paying for the salary of the CEO and project manager, along with other overhead. Hiring an individual who can work from home enables you to take control of the process while keeping costs low.”
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