How to Start and Grow a Business: A Digital Guide for Young Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurship is a journey where you continually learn and evolve.
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When I started exploring the internet, I decided to utilize it in the most promising way. Learning new skills, generating networks and other essential things accompanied my growth. I founded my company, InstaEASY, in 2018, with just two employees. As an entrepreneur, I started building my network, developing my skills and making connections with people I could learn from. This began the journey to finding the best strategies for growth, which so far proved to be successful.
The internet favors people who look in the right direction. To turn our disadvantage into an advantage, we must adopt new approaches and make innovations in our society.
Here are some tips that could help you, and by following these simple and effective strategies, you will be able to start or expand your startup or business at a young age.
1. Never search "How to make money"
The internet is full of affiliate marketing programs, scams and other fake business opportunities. Even a single Youtube search can reveal millions of videos on how to make money sitting at home, and unfortunately, that's how everyone starts. I even admit to falling for things that promised $100-$500 a day.
However, all the content that claims to help you make money is just another deep hole dug by a creator who is looking to use you as bait. The first thing I learned was that in order to make money, you need to provide value to a business or person. Start using Youtube to learn new skills or improve the ones you already have instead of watching quick rich scheme videos.
Related: The Pandemic Created the Next Generation of Great Entrepreneurs
2. Know your resources
After you have developed a skill or a service, it's time to start marketing this skill and offering it to others. This is the point where things start to form a structure, and we start laying foundation tools for our future startup or project.
A common issue faced by many is funding or investment. I didn't have any money to buy a domain name or hire someone to build a website. Maybe you would be facing the same issue, but there's a vast amount of resources that can help you to get almost everything you need to lay the foundation stones for your business.
3. How to get your first customers
One of the biggest mistakes everyone makes in the early stage of their startup is targeting customers who are hard to get. Another mistake entrepreneurs make is offering services for free. Your first customers should be businesses or individuals who intensively have the problem you are solving—they are ready to pay and work with startups.
You can start your journey by creating a social media account on Instagram and sharing posts about solving your problem. From there you can figure out your targeted audience. For example, if you are developing websites, use go-to hashtags like #smallbusiness and check if users have a website or not. If the answer is no, you can drop them a message about what you do and how your service can significantly impact their business. Sometimes that's all you need to get your first customers.
Related: What I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was a Young Entrepreneur
4. How to get funding for your startup
For startups operated by teenagers, getting funding for your startup can be a daunting task. But, there are plenty of resources and organizations that offer grants, loans or other forms of financial assistance to you, and here's a list that you can follow.
University-backed venture funds
- Colorado State University CSU Ventures
- Ohio Innovation Fund
- TechGROWTH Ohio
- Bobcat Seed Fund
- Cornell University BRV
- Indiana University Innovate Indiana
- NYU Innovation Venture Fund
- Oregon State University Funding Opportunities
- Penn State University Garber Venture Capital Fund
- Portland State University Venture Venture Development Fund
- Stanford GSB Impact Fund
- UCLA Ventures
- University of Colorado Denver Rutt Bridges Venture Fund
- University of Minnesota Venture Center
- University of Rochester Simon School Venture Fund
- University of Tennessee Knoxville Boyd Venture Challenge
- University Angel Networks
University angel networks (Some universities are connected with angel networks, often made up of alumni investors who provide financial support to promising startup ideas.)
- Baylor Angel Network
- Berkeley Angel Network
- Carolina Angel Network
- Columbia Angels
- Duke Angel Network
- Harvard Alumni Angels
- MIT Alumni Angels
- Stanford Angels and Entrepreneurs
- University of Virginia Angels
- Wharton Angel Network
- Wharton Alumni Angels
- Additional Sources of Funding
Business pitch competitions
- ClimateTech and Energy Prize MIT
- Ohio University EXPO Pitch Competition
- International Video Pitch competition
- Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition
- NFTE National Investor Pitch Challenge
- Pear Competition
- Rice Business Plan Competition
- Social Enterprise Conference Pitch Competition
- Startup World Cup
- University of Oregon New Venture Championship
- Visa Everywhere Initiative
The steps I mentioned don't guarantee you win, but they will help you channel your efforts in the right direction.
Related: Meet 16 Teen Founders Who Are Building Big Businesses -- and Making Big Money