Updated: May 2
Forget the days of white picket fences and fancy office jobs – being an entrepreneur has become the new American Dream. In a 2018 study done by Fresh Books, 15 million Americans make a living by being self-employed. That number continues to grow year after year. Millennial juggernauts like Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Matthew Mullenweg (WordPress), and Emily Weiss (Glossier) have paved the way for young Gen Z entrepreneurs to launch their dream business.
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Entrepreneurship and startup guides were once meant for the elite one percent. Now, business intelligence is more accessible than ever with the advancement of technology. From the one-time online purchases of business programs, like Marie Forleo’s B-School, to entrepreneur giants like Gary Vaynerchuk (aka Gary V) sharing tips on Instagram, the idea of being a business owner has become more attainable to young high school teens and college graduates.
However, creating a startup or launching a new business—big or small—has its challenges. Although business intel is available everywhere being a full-time entrepreneur can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. It’s tiresome, tedious, repetitive, and can take years. And sometimes you put in all the work only to find out that it's not meant to be. Fortunately, we spoke to a few young entrepreneurs on their growing businesses and their best tips and tricks to starting a business you love.
FIND YOUR WHY
There are many reasons why businesses flop the first year. One of them is not having a strong why. Most aspiring entrepreneurs gravitate towards this lifestyle solely for the hope of making money. Now let’s be honest, making money is a major plus. However, if making money is the sole focus, you’re already losing.
Shelly Murdock, the founder of Fit 2 Flaunt – a fitness and exotic workout app, says your why is what will propel you forward:
“In the beginning, I spent a lot of time thinking about [my] why when I wanted to open a studio. What did I want to accomplish once it was open? I had to sit down and have an honest conversation with myself about my purpose and what motivated me. Once I had that, funding was the only problem, which I did by doing all the footwork for the business myself, with a few trusted friends.”
To stay the course when launching your business, you have to enjoy why you’re doing it, and it cannot solely be for financial gain. Building your business from the ground up is hard work and there will be days where you will not feel motivated. If you don’t have the why to keep you going on days where it can seem like a drag, you’re going to burn out quickly.
TRUST YOUR GUT
Being an entrepreneur means you’re the boss. You make the decisions and have the final say, which comes with a lot of responsibility, especially if you have a team of people beside you. It requires you to make moves that can be risky. This is when you need to harness your gut instincts.
That’s what Dejon Brooks, the founder of Trend Watchers, relied on when starting. During his startup, Brooks recalled the moment where he walked away from a potential $45,000 opportunity because it wasn’t aligned with his vision for the company’s future. “I wouldn’t trade that over my experience bootstrapping. Now that I look back, if I had taken any VC capital, my startup would've failed.”
Entrepreneurs are making multiple decisions daily. A huge factor of what you’ll be doing is taking action and not letting fear hinder you. Trusting your intuition allows business owners to make the best step and move forward. In the words of Vaynerchuck, “it’s better to try, fail, revise and try again than spend all your time debating and never actually doing.”
FIND A NEED
Another huge reason why startup enterprises fail to launch is that there simply isn’t a need for it. Mahrad Saeedi is the cofounder of WeHealth. WeHealth is a health tech company that develops campaigns around severe diseases that impact marginalized communities and provide tools to share and connect patients with trusted health resources. At the height of the global pandemic, multiple companies were shut down, and the healthcare industry was hit tremendously. Saeedi and the team saw a need and decided to help.
“There have always been significant health disparities in minority communities, now it's more apparent than ever when it comes to Covid-19 misinformation and vaccine access. We used this as an opportunity to leverage our expertise and technology to support health equity initiatives. Our focus as of late, starting in LA, has been to create tools and provide resources to empower minority groups and underserved members of society with trusted health information and access to vaccines.”
If there isn’t a market to sell in, you don’t have a business. That doesn’t mean you have to start a business to aid world hunger or cure cancer (although if you want to, please do). You don’t have to aspire to be the next Zuckerberg or become a billionaire powerhouse. Instead, when creating a business start by finding a need.
As the world turns and our day-to-day changes with every passing year, more people are creating a business that flows with the times. Companies like Instacart, Uber, and Netflix have shaped our culture and how we connect. Yet if you ask any business owner regardless of their caliber what it takes to be an entrepreneur, their response would be the same: it’s all learned through experience. “The world needs that special gift that only you have,” says Forleo to every single entrepreneur she speaks to, and for good reason. There’s never a shortage of services that the world needs, and if you know in your heart this is what you have to offer the world, go out and give it a try. Who knows, you might help shape the world into a better place – and I think that’s worth the risk.
Fresh Books Self Employment Report 2018
Shelly Murdock, founder of Fit 2 Flaunt
Dejon Brooks, founder of Trend Watchers
Forbes – Coronavirus Bankruptcy Tracker: These Major Companies Are Failing Amid The Shutdown
Finances Online – 16 Entrepreneurship Trends for 2021/2022