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How to Encourage Youthful Entrepreneurship

How to Encourage Youthful Entrepreneurship

Way back when, setting up your own business generally meant going to a bank to arrange a loan, spending an inordinate amount of time networking in-person and figuring out how to find and manage a staff.

Today, however, with a wealth of online tools at the disposal of anyone with an internet connection, it’s easier than ever to start a business with very few costs. Twenty-somethings are especially poised to take advantage of this shift, given that they tend to understand these tools. What’s more, whether they ultimately wind up employed at a massive corporation or go the full way on their own, experimenting with entrepreneurialism teaches a host of skills that will be crucial in our globally competitive workspace, where just being “good enough” isn’t going to cut it.

What Entrepreneurialism Does for Youth

Entrepreneurs tend to be jacks of all trades. They must be willing to learn as they go, shift with the market and work until they drop. Encouraging twenty-something entrepreneurialism means:

1. Teaching employable skills.

Take a look at any given job description today, and you’ll see a single buzzword repeated throughout: innovation. Employers want motivated employees who are creative, willing to “disrupt paradigms” while working with little management. However, they still need those employees to possess a number of more traditional skills, like communication, organizational and time management skills. And, hey, if they also happen to be good at marketing and sales, all the better.

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Whether you like using and developing these skills or not, all entrepreneurs must master them if your business is going to get anywhere. If sales doesn’t come naturally, then the entrepreneur must either figure out a creative way to get around it (like designing an even better online sales system) or just dive in and get over that fear. Not only does doing so show potential employers that you have developed that specific skill, but it also shows a willingness to take risks in the name of personal growth. If that doesn’t make someone employable, I don’t what does.

2. Nurturing creativity and teaching youth how to fail.

There’s a reason why these two things are sandwiched together: creativity and failure go hand in hand. To be creative, you have to look beyond everyday constraints to those things no one has ever thought of before — or they have, and decided they weren’t worth the risk. Doing so will inevitably come with a lot of failure, from which the entrepreneur must pick him or herself up and move on, having evaluated the failure and gotten him or herself ready for more directed experimentation.

While schools do fail students, they’re not the best at teaching student how to fail. In fact, in the academic realm most students strive to avoid failure at all costs. That’s fine when it comes to memorizing and mastering known information, but it doesn’t promote the kind of thinking that’s going to rescue humanity from its deepest crises — or make anyone a profitable company.

Entrepreneurialism forces young adults away from their knee-jerk failure avoidance behaviors. This will have enormous benefits in the ability to think creatively and pursue new avenues, which extends beyond work and into personal lives. A true entrepreneur is someone who sees failure as an opportunity for reinvention.

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3. Teaching the young how not to settle.

Entrepreneurs don’t just settle for what they’re given. Being an entrepreneur is akin to being an artist — never fully happy with where you are. Combine dissatisfaction with curiosity and you get someone who is constantly on the hunt for new ideas — and who pursue those that are most worthy. Whether you stay in the entrepreneurial world or not, embracing a spirit of entrepreneurialism will prevent the young from simply accepting less than ideal employment situations just because “that’s the way it is.” That drive will inform a lifetime of good work.

4. Doing this all within a relatively safe framework.

The younger an entrepreneur is, the less he or she has to lose. There’s generally no house to pay for or family to support. Yes, there may be student loans, but if they get going while still in college, they may still be on the parental dole and benefiting from scholarships, or there is at least no pressing need to pay loans back instantly. Even better, more and more colleges are offering courses in entrepreneurship as well as startup funds, so there’s less to lose and more to gain than ever. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings just announced that he will be sending $14 million to a Seattle startup that encourages more entrepreneurial education.

So, How to Get Going?

All of that said, there’s no getting around one key fact about entrepreneurialism: it’s hard. Or tiring, at the very least — especially when balanced with school obligations. That budding young entrepreneur is definitely going to need as much support and advice as they can get. Here are a few tidbits to pass on.

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1. Find the Focus

One of the best things new young entrepreneurs can do is find their focus. Of course, finding that focus may very well mean experimenting first with this kind of product and then the next as they “beta test” and find the most viable audience. But that shouldn’t be taken as sanction to offer a million different things, just because the given entrepreneurs find them interesting. New entrepreneurs can start simply by writing down problems or annoyances they see as they process they world, as well as ideas for fixing them. Then they should take those ideas to family and friends to see if they seem viable, and do a little research into competitor offerings. Having narrowed down to a focus, new entrepreneurs will find it easier to test the market with various manifestations of their product and go from there.

2. Sort Out Pricing

Competitor and audience research is also key for determining the price of the product or service. Many budding young entrepreneurs are idealistic about how little they can charge, especially for a web-based product, but competitor prices often reflect real world realities, like just how much it costs to host a popular website each month. It’s also important to consider other factors, like building in room for growth and just how price-sensitive any given audience of consumers will be.

Again, this is a place where entrepreneurs should really be encouraged to experiment, not fear failure, and be ready to shift course.

3. Set Up an Online Store

Whether this specific new startup will operate solely in the online space or not, having an online store will be crucial for most businesses. Today’s consumers expect to be able to get whatever they want online, and they’ll simply go elsewhere if they can’t get it from that budding entrepreneur. However, consumers will also turn away if an ecommerce store doesn’t feel trustworthy or easy to use. As such, from both a design and a sales perspective, it’s usually easiest for a time-limited entrepreneur to build their shop on a third party platform Check out Amazon webstore’s small business spotlights for some great examples. Platforms like this will integrate easily with their site, and will also handle all of the tricky shopping cart and credit card processing for them. What’s more, with a service like Amazon, products will automatically become searchable on the Amazon site, gaining the product even more exposure.

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4. Market Via Email and Social Media

Even the best product or service won’t sell if no one knows about it. Thankfully for busy young entrepreneurs, marketing is easier than ever with tools they already use every single day: email and social media. Email marketing begins with a newsletter signup list on the company website. From there, entrepreneurs should put together an editorial calendar to help them regularly brainstorm ideas for content they can post on their blog and email out to their list, as well as any accompanying promotions. This should of course accompany regular activity on social media platforms, as well as attendance at any campus or local events to let target customers know all about the product.

5. Think Hard About Time Management

Being an entrepreneur requires juggling many different balls at once. That means time management is key, especially for enrolled students. Entrepreneurs should take time every week to plan out the week’s schedule, making sure to build in time just to relax and do something other than relentlessly pursue their business goals. In general, it’s best to focus on one thing at a time, rather than trying to multi-task. For some entrepreneurs, outsourcing basic labor like data entry or even higher level tasks like accounting will go a long way towards lightening that load.

The Takeaway

Whether that startup becomes a billion dollar behemoth or fails after just a few months, entrepreneurialism has a wealth of lessons to teach our nation’s youth, from financial literacy to creativity. Encouraging entrepreneurialism is good for the economy and even better for the young. So what will you do to encourage a young person into entrepreneurialism today?

Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via Shutterstock

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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