Business isn’t just for adults anymore. The exciting world of entrepreneurship has recently seen the likes of a 13-year-old clothing designer, a 16-year-old online gift boutique owner, and a 16-year-old jewelry designer, just to name a few.
If you’re a teen with an idea that could blossom into a business, there’s no reason why you should wait until you’re older. No matter what your age, the time is now. Here are five keys to entrepreneurial success that can help ensure a bright future for your ventures.
1. Get mentored.
Finding a mentor is at the top of the list because it happens to be very important. Even experienced adults look for mentors. How many business savvy people are there in your family and extended family? How about friends of your family, or adults you might be connected with on Facebook and Twitter? You may find that there are dozens of people you can come to for advice and crucial role modeling. If you feel that your circle of friends and family is lacking in business mentors, consider asking them if they could introduce you (either online or in person) to people that could mentor you.
Related: 9 Ideas for Teen Businesses
2. Sharpen your communication skills.
Much of what you do in business involves getting people to believe in you and your product or service. So as a young entrepreneur, you’ll need to communicate -- a lot. Both in written form and verbally. Being able to give a speech or a presentation will greatly benefit you and your business, as will blogging clearly and convincingly about your product. It even pays to be really good at conversing one-on-one. Entrepreneurs who are personable and likeable gain trust faster than those who seem aloof.
3. Earn credibility.
Your youth can be a very good thing. Young people often have fresh ideas and approaches, along with the advantage of learning from successes and failures early in life. However, being young also comes with a greater need to prove yourself. People sometimes question whether or not they should take a teenager’s business seriously. So it’s your job to prove to the world that you are serious about your business, and that your product or service is worth their respect.
One way to boost your own credibility is to be strategic with your personal branding efforts on social media. Regularly post topics related to your particular interest in entrepreneurship, and blog frequently about any ideas you have about doing things differently or better.
To boost the credibility of your product or service, you’ll need to show potential customers the value it can bring them. Whether by blogging about your product’s benefits, demonstrating your product on YouTube, or even letting people use your product for free, find ways to prove its worth. The longer you stick to your entrepreneurial ventures, and the more positive reviews and testimonials you gain, the more credibility you’ll earn.
4. Find ways to manage your stress
With homework, extracurricular activities and family challenges, stress is common among teens. And when entrepreneurship is added to the mix, you’re even more susceptible. Uncontrolled stress and anxiety will not only hinder your schoolwork and entrepreneurial ventures, but it will also damage your emotional and psychological well being. Along with the responsibilities you’re giving yourself as a teenage entrepreneur, it’s crucial that you find outlets or hobbies to enjoy. Sometimes, a Saturday of rest or hanging out with friends can do wonders for your stressed and frazzled mind.
If worse comes to worst, and you simply can’t get relief from your stress, it may be best to scale back or postpone your entrepreneurial efforts. Nothing is worth sacrificing your schoolwork or your mental health.
5. Innovate when possible.
Chances are, there are going to be businesses out there similar to yours. That shouldn’t discourage you from your entrepreneurial ventures. It should, however, encourage you to find a way to innovate something about your business. Do some research about your competition. Are their businesses lacking in anything? Are there gaps between what they offer and what the customer needs? If so, try to find ways for your business to fill those gaps. Even if your innovations seem small and insignificant, go forward with them. Oftentimes, it’s the little things that customers love about their favorite brands and businesses. Also, remember that when two companies are similar to each other, customers favor the one with the best customer service.
The entrepreneurial lifestyle is not an easy one, no matter how old or how young you are. But if you make smart business decisions as a teenager, your ventures can pay off for the rest of your life. So play your cards right. Seek mentors, learn to communicate well, and work on gaining credibility. And throughout it all, do what you can to manage your stress and anxiety. One day you’ll look back on your teen years with a sense of accomplishment and pride for the life you’ve created for yourself.