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How to Start a Business as a Teenager: 10 Tips and Advice

If you could go back to your teenage years and start a business, what is one tip/piece of advice you would give yourself?

To help young adults with pursuing a start-up, we asked business leaders and entrepreneurs this question for their best advice. From seeking out others who have experience to accepting failure at the beginning rather than the end, there are several tips that entrepreneurs would give themselves if they could go back and start again.

Here are ten pieces of advice for starting your own business:

  • Don’t Wait for Others to See What you See
  • Ask For Your First Dollar
  • Seek Others Who Already Have Experience
  • What Brings Your Personal Satisfaction?
  • Get a Deep Understanding of Your Industry
  • Be Patient
  • Nurture Your Connections
  • Failure is at the Beginning, Not the End
  • Deconstruct Complex Plans to Tiny Components
  • Go All Out on the Sales Process

Don’t Wait for Others to See What you See

I would tell the teenage version of me that if you see a vision for the future that appears better than the present, get after it! Don’t wait for others to see what you see — starting a business is hard, scary, lonely, and full of doubt. However, if you are driven by the prospect of a brighter future, you can make it happen — all you have to do is believe in yourself, believe in your vision, and bring your vision to life.

Brian Mohr, anthym

Ask For Your First Dollar

Don’t be afraid to ask for your first dollar. If a potential customer, aunt, uncle, or friend expresses interest in what you’re selling, ask them to pay for your product or service on the spot. You don’t have a business until you earn money. Earning your first dollar, and physically putting that dollar into your pocket teaches you so many more lessons about business than sitting in a room dreaming about strategy. 

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

Seek Others Who Already Have Experience

One piece of advice I would give my teenage self about starting a business is to listen to people who already have the experience. Starting a business involves so many different areas of knowledge and it can be difficult for a single person to get the idea off the ground alone. Lean on connections to help and ask for guidance and advice in areas of business you lack knowledge. This is especially important in industries that grow and expand rapidly.

Jacy Smith, Perimeter83

What Brings Your Personal Satisfaction?

To find a real passion for your work, there must be a purpose. So, it’s important to take your strengths and apply them to a business or a cause that brings you personal satisfaction. Look for opportunities where you can help others, supply essential products or services, or any other “feel good” ways to have a career that best suits you.

Rachel Jones, Hope Health Supply

Get a Deep Understanding of Your Industry

If I were to return to my teenage years, I would express to my “younger self” the importance of education. However, I do not just mean any standard education. I’d tell myself to find that one thing that you do the best, and learn everything you can about it. Gain educational knowledge, but also do not forget to pick up real-world experience. If this can be achieved, you won’t have a “job,” but you’ll have a passion.

Greg Kozera, ELM Learning

Be Patient

In 2014, I became a hobby blogger after seeing the movie Julie and Julia. The movie didn’t explain the need to wait. I was quite sad because of my lack of traffic. I met with a coach who said, “blogging is a marathon and not a sprint.” Those words made me a more patient blogger and a more patient person. Google gives views to older blogs. Also, as time passes, links are built to blog posts which tells Google the posts are great posts. In time, new people find your posts. If you are selling a product or service, you need a good rank that takes time to get. Now, I am a pro blogger with a team of five people. We run an online blog school, we have a paid writing service, and we help people with web ads. If I had lost patience and left my blog in the 1st year as so many do, I would not have the small biz and the nice success I have now. Patience is needed in business, especially online business.

Janice Wald, Mostly Blogging

Nurture Your Connections

I would remind myself that there’s nothing “lucky” about business success. We’ve all heard stories about being in the right place at the right time, but it takes much more than that to run a profitable company. Begin networking and building connections, and nurture these connections so that they are prime for collaborations down the road.

Travis Killian, Everlasting Comfort

Failure is at the Beginning, Not the End

There are many different ways to succeed towards one end. In my late teens, early twenties I actually looked into starting my own retailing business with a friend. We put together a business and marketing plan, had a name and concept together. After looking at our initial startup costs, we became disillusioned because of our fear of failing and did not realize that there were much simpler, smaller ways to accomplish what we were aiming for. Had we kept pushing and adjusted our sails we would have realized that if we invested into a small pop-up model and hit the circuit locally at events we would have had a much lower risk path to be able to scale up towards our original vision.

Steven Brown, DP Electric Inc

Deconstruct Complex Plans to Tiny Components

One of the mechanisms holding entrepreneurs back is fixating on the results instead of the means to achieve them. The depictions of famous business personalities in the media are often the snapshots of their success while their route to it is what matters. The leap from 0 to Fortune 500 seems magical, but the real lessons can be drawn from more granular studies of the business at its certain stage. Similarly, laying down the already clear elements of a business plan helps find the missing bits, even on the go.

Michael Sena, Senacea

Go All Out on the Sales Process

The one tip I would give myself is to go all-out on the sales process at the very beginning such as cold-calling, emailing, social media messaging, door-to-door, etc., and not strictly rely on what the competition is doing. In addition, I should’ve tracked the data and cost for each sales avenue better to start perfecting the best methods sooner. It was difficult duplicating myself to scale initially and teaching others because I was all over the place with sales starting out. I think that\’s optimal for new businesses to try many sales avenues to start, but quickly use the data to push the best avenue(s) forward and early (1-2 years) so workers have an exact formula for success right away. As, Mark Cuban says, “sales cure all.”

Patrick Menzel, Internal Profits, LLC

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