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It's often said that youth is wasted on the young. But according to a number of studies, 18- to 34-year-olds are making good use of their youthful energy by starting or investing in businesses.
In its January 1997 report, A National Survey Among Stock Investors, the Nasdaq Stock Market found that 19 percent of Generation X investors expect to use the proceeds from the sale of their stocks to start a business. And preliminary statistics gathered in 1993 as part of the National Panel Study of U.S. Business Start-Ups found that seven out of 10 start-ups are launched by people aged 25 to 34.
"They are old enough to have experience and young enough to have the energy," says Paul Reynolds, professor of entrepreneurial studies at Babson College in Babson Park, Massachusetts, and coordinator of the National Panel Study of U.S. Business Start-Ups. "By the time people get into their 40s, they become accustomed to a certain career path and have a commitment in that direction."
Young U.S. entrepreneurs fall into two categories, says Reynolds. "One group seems to have full- or part-time employment, and the new business [is a] sideline. The other group seems more involved in starting a business," he says. The majority are male (60 percent) and white (73 percent).
The types of companies young entrepreneurs create range from manufacturing to service, with heavier concentrations in construction, retail and services.
These Xers are not impetuous egomaniacs whose eagerness to achieve causes them to fall by the wayside in larger numbers than other entrepreneurs. In fact, Reynolds found that their success rate mirrors the average.
By Debra Phillips
Both Kelly and Lucien Campolo come by their entrepreneurial talents naturally--each grew up in a business-owning family. Which is not to say that this husband-and-wife team didn't raise a few eyebrows when they decided to take the small-business plunge themselves. "Our families were pretty leery of the idea of a suntan lotion [company]," says Lucien. "It sounded too fun--just not serious. As it turns out, it's a very serious business."
So it is. Only 3 years old, South Beach Sun Co. is expected to bask in sales of $250,000 this year. The future is brighter still: Next year's sales for the Miami Beach, Florida-based business are projected to increase to between $4 million and $5 million with an expansion in product line and distribution. "We fully expect to be the next national brand of sun care [products]," Kelly says.
Not that it's been a walk on the beach for this pair of 28-year-olds. Frustrated by their attempts to secure financing, the Campolos racked up approximately $50,000 on their credit cards to launch South Beach Sun. But the couple was certain they could outshine their competitors.
"If you put more into the product, people will like it more and buy it more often--especially with consumable products," says Lucien. "Overall, [our products] are much better than anything else on the market."
Sold in eye-catching black tubes and bottles with bright lettering, the Campolos' complete line of sunscreen products is the result of personally conducted market research. Says Kelly, "We go out to the beach, hand out samples and listen to what people say." Now that's good public relations.
What advice would you give to fellow young entrepreneurs?
"If you wait until you have enough money to take a shot at starting your own business, you'll be waiting your entire life. You need to put together the plan, put together the idea and just get it started."
--Lucien Campolo, co-founder, South Beach Sun Co., Miami Beach, Florida
25- to 34-year-olds are responsible for starting 7 in 10 new businesses.
South Beach Sun Co., (305) 672-5780, firstname.lastname@example.org