Why Now Is A Great Time To Be A Young Entrepreneur

(L to R) Stephanie Kaplan, Annie Wang, and Windsor Hanger, founded Her Campus in 2009 after attending Harvard together.Stephanie Kaplan, Annie Wang, and Windsor Hanger started Her Campus in 2009, after attending Harvard together.

Photo: Her Campus

Have you ever thought about starting your own company?  Do you have a great idea that could be the next Twitter? Perhaps it’s time you turned your dreams into reality. More and more, young 20-somethings are not only starting their own businesses, but they are also achieving enormous success doing so. Take recent startups like Her Campus, Rent the Runway, and LearnVest: all three lucrative businesses that were founded by women in their early twenties.

The major pros of being an entrepreneur. You’re not tied to another person’s desk, schedule, or priorities.  You can do what you love, do it your way, and have as unconventional a life and calendar as you choose.  And your future—and earning potential—is wide open when you are your own boss.  So whether you want to run a clothing boutique, own a marketing firm, or found the next social network, here are five reasons why now is the time to do it, from four young professionals who have taken the plunge:

1. Employment is Scarce

In today’s economy, college graduates are finding fewer entry-level career options.  Starting a business used to be considered high-risk but now, with diminishing alternatives, it doesn’t look so bad.  Members of Generation Y were raised thinking that they could pursue their passions as a career, but today’s job market often leaves young professionals taking “whatever they can find.” Many are finding that the best—or only—way to do what they love is to venture out on their own.

2. The Trend is Growing

“In the past six to 12 months, it became really sexy to be a start-up.  It’s a global phenomenon,” says start-up expert Sarah Prevette, founder of entrepreneur networking site Sprouter.  She attributes the culture shift to the explosive success of recent start-up founders (hello, Mark Zuckerburg!) and their direct impact on society.

The shift is important because, as the trend has grown, so have the resources.  Young entrepreneurs today are much more positioned for success than their predecessors. Platforms such as Sprouter, Under 30 CEO, and Young Entrepreneur provide ways for young business owners to connect, seek advice, and find valuable resources.

3. Entry is Easier

In past generations, businesses needed a brick-and-mortar address.  Now “the barrier to entry, especially for web technology, is really low, probably the lowest it’s ever been,” says Prevette.  “You can start a business for under $100 in this day and age,” says Maren Kate, founder of Escaping the 9 to 5. “Just grab a URL, brainstorm a business idea and throw up a website.”

4. Inexperience is Good

Conventional wisdom may state that only experienced professionals should start a company, but youth has advantages when you’re opening a business.  20-somethings who have grown up in the age of social  media have a fresh perspective on today’s business landscape and are less likely to be influenced by how things have been done in the past.

You’re also allowed to ask more questions when you’re young.  “One of the greatest things about starting right after college and being so young was that I was so open to asking people questions,” says Morgan First, a two-time entrepreneur who founded her first company at 21.  “I now realise that that’s how everyone succeeds: being able to ask advice from experts and to not think you can do everything yourself.”

5. Risk is Relative

Most young people don’t have start-up capital or savings on which to fall back.  On the other hand, if you don’t have a mortgage, investments, or a family, you have much less to lose than someone 20 years your senior. “My tolerance for risk is much different than somebody who is paying a mortgage and trying to put kids through school,” says Prevette. Nicole Myden, who founded a public relations firm at age 25, shares that sense of adventure: “While having more of a savings cushion or waiting until I was married would have been helpful, I was ready to take on the world, so I figured, let’s go for it!”‘

Prevette advises aspiring entrepreneurs to, in Nike terms, just do it.  “If you have an idea—you’ve found a problem that you don’t see anyone else solving—do it.  Running a business is probably the most horrifying, sleep-wrecking thing you could ever do, but it’s also the most rewarding.”

Want to learn more? Meet our panel of CEOs here.


The author, Adrian Granzella Larssen, is a contributing writer for Pretty Young Professional. Adrian can be followed on Twitter @adriangranzella

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