Teen Entrepreneurs: Starting a Business with an Eye on College
by Jenna Sherman and the LAC Team
Starting a business as a teen comes with a lot of responsibility, but it can also open up a lot of doors and provide benefits that will stay with you for years to come. Becoming an entrepreneur isn’t just a path for established professionals anymore; these days, there are tons of resources available for young people who have a great plan and a little ambition. Whether you want to create a business that sells handmade products or one that delivers services to others, you’ll need to come up with a solid business plan and find the right tools for your needs.
It is important to recognize that you can utilize this business to begin honing in on your future — consider whether you might want to make this business your career path down the road. And yes, you can absolutely look to leverage this business in your college application and major curriculum.
Beginning a business while in high school allows you to follow a passion, demonstrates discipline and creativity and — especially when the business lines up with your studies — allows you to gain valuable experience. This business can be absolutely useful when it comes to writing your essay or going through the interview process — you’ll have plenty to proudly talk about and it will surely separate you from the other candidates! Of course, simply starting a business with the singular goal of getting into a certain college should NOT be the reason for the effort and attempt. Putting ‘Founder’ on any resume — for college or otherwise — should not be the deciding factor. Start the business because you love the work it entails, you want to challenge yourself, and you understand that, with both successes and failures, you will learn a ton about business, life and yourself that you may not have otherwise learned.
From student-athletes (and their NIL aspirations) to young entrepreneurs with big dreams, our team can help you set some goals for you, your work, and your college career when you’re ready.
Want to get a business off the ground by the time you graduate? Here are some helpful tips:
Take Matters Into Your Own Hands
When it comes to starting a business of your own, it’s imperative to do some research on possible competition — both locally and online — and find out what they’re doing right and what they could improve upon. Take the initiative to visit their store or shop online, because viewing their practices as a customer can only help you in the long run. Once you’ve done that, you can start researching the average costs associated with a startup of your size and figure out a budget; you can also seek out potential funding resources, such as grants, crowdfunding, or loans. All of this information will go into your business plan, along with details on the products or services you’ll be selling and whether you’ll have employees.
Consider How Much Time You Can Commit
As a student, you probably have a pretty full schedule that will require some careful thought when you’re ready to start putting your ideas together. Once you have your business plan worked out, consider how much time you’ll be able to commit to your business and think about how you can navigate it all smoothly. This will require getting organized, so you might look for apps and other tech that will help you stay on track and keep up with deadlines, meetings, and other essential tasks.
Make a List of Helpful Resources
Even with the best planning tactics, no one can build a business all on their own. In fact, you shouldn’t try to do everything yourself, as this can lead to burnout and shut down your motivation to proceed with your goals. Instead, look for resources that can help you along the way, such as professional graphic designers who can bring your branding ideas to life. Don’t forget to utilize the right tools to keep communication with them streamlined; for instance, you can use a free online PDF editor to add text, highlights, and sticky notes to a file with several images, making it easier to notate changes when you’re sending a project back and forth.
Put Some Thought Into Your Branding
When you’re ready to get help from a designer to create a website and other branding ideas, it’s essential to put careful thought and research time into the process. Coming up with a logo and slogan that are simple yet eye-catching is harder than it sounds, and all of these elements will play a big role in your success. Take a look at the designs other businesses have used and take some time to play with a few templates online in order to brainstorm. Don’t forget to make sure that the business name and logo you want to use aren’t already being used.
Secure Money Management Tools
You’ve got a solid plan, a few helpful resources, and creative branding figured out. However, before you can open up for business, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared to handle the financial end of things. Even with the simplest cash-only business, it’s crucial to have accounting software that will help you manage your income and figure out your tax responsibilities. Look at reviews online of different options to see which ones make the most sense for your needs. If necessary, take an online course on business finance to learn more about the ins and outs of the process.
Look for a Mentor
It’s also a good idea to look for a mentor before you start taking on customers. You might network with fellow entrepreneurs in your area by heading to local events like conventions, joining an online program, or talking to family members who have started their own businesses. This is a great way to get advice from someone who has already been through many of the same things you’re experiencing, and it can also help you spread the word about your business as you get started.
Find Your Customer Base
Ready to open up shop? Your competitor research should have given you some insight on how to find the right audience for your business and what they’re looking for, but now is the time to launch a marketing strategy that will help you attract those customers. Social media is a great place to start your campaign since it will give you a wide reach no matter what your budget is, but you can also utilize traditional methods such as distributing signage or even hanging flyers in local stores and cafes.
Plan for the Negatives
Once your business is available to the public and the sales start rolling in, you’ll need to have a plan in place for any negative results. For instance, what will you do if a customer’s package is lost during shipping? How will you handle a dissatisfied customer? No business owner wants to think about the downside of entrepreneurship but having a plan in place will both help you cope with the disappointment and allow you to ensure great customer service-a cornerstone of any successful business.
Starting a business of your own can be overwhelming if you don’t have a good plan, so take your time and don’t rush the process. Staying organized can also help immensely, as can getting advice from other business owners who have been in your shoes.
**Jenna Sherman is a mom of three (two girls and a boy), who created parent-leaders.com as an avenue for parents who want to make sure their children grow up to be strong, independent, successful adults. By providing a collection of valuable, up-to-date, authoritative resources, she hopes to help other parents acquire the skills they need to raise future leaders.
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