It is amazing that the proportion of young entrepreneurs is growing steadily. I choose to see this as a tentative sign that the attitude to entrepreneurship as a career path in schools and higher education is changing for the better. What good does it do if we teach students that a career in large enterprises equals success when the reality of the business landscape is another?
Once a year I visit a school with innovation and business students to talk about what it's like to be an entrepreneur, and how to go about it if they have invented something meaningful (which many of them actually have). We talk about all the practical matters of entrepreneurship, such as choice of name, economics, registration of business, etc., which is very important to obtain a basic understanding of, especially for the very young entrepreneurs that do not possess real work experience yet.
In addition to the practical tips mentioned above, I have summarized some more general suggestions to how a young entrepreneur can bring their business forward. I would like to share those with you as well, so here they are:
• Tell, ask, listen and evaluate
It is a common misunderstanding that good ideas should be kept secret. A secret idea will suffer from a lack of input from potential customers and others who could contribute with important knowledge before launch. The important thing is to understand that it is extremely, and I repeat, extremely rare that someone steals an idea that has not yet proven business value. There are many ideas out there and the hardest part is to execute them to a stage that creates growth. So tell your idea to all who want to hear about it, ask for advice, and review the critical issues.
• Network (online + IRL)
As a young entrepreneur, your business network might be relatively limited. You need to do something about that. Seek out people in your upcoming business, for example in your parents' networks, or find relevant events online that you can attend to make new connections. I have discovered that most people love helping entrepreneurs, if only you dare to accept. There are many good articles on how to become skilled at networking - read them.
• Use the media: editorial + social
As a young entrepreneur, you probably already know the power of social media. You need to use this knowledge in an intelligent and authentic way in relation to your product. It might also be a good idea to try to get publicity in editorial media; this is a reliable and inexpensive way to publicize your product and invention. Look especially for niche media within your target market.
• Mentor / advisory board / board
Consider setting up an advisory board consisting of talented people you can call when you need advice and tips. You can also choose to gather your advisory board for joint meetings but it is not necessary. In time, you may want to assign a board to your business that can either replace or supplement your advisory board. Some also enjoy a personal mentor in connection with the business start-up.
• Maintain and show your enthusiasm
Now that you have decided to become an entrepreneur and make your invention a business, you are probably quite enthusiastic about your idea. Preserve this enthusiasm and show it in all contexts. There is nothing more influential and memorable than an excited inventor's speech.
• Learn about technology, language, and economy, but also cultivate your creativity
Being a Dane, one of the most important things I learned in school is English. If you do not speak proper English (or the foreign language that is spoken in your market), it might be difficult to expand your business to foreign countries and cooperate with foreign people. It is also a big advantage to gain a good understanding of technology and economy. If you are a creative person, you might think it sounds a little dull (it might very well be the case), but trust me - you will be happy about it later. And one does not exclude the other; you will obviously continue to cultivate your creativity to the max!
• Believe in yourself, your idea and your team
The very last piece of advice is probably the most important one, because if you don't believe in yourself, the idea, and your team, you will never get anywhere. So even in difficult times, be positive and put on your best "things are going great" smile!
If you would want to work for a start-up instead, you can read Frederik's blog which gives you an idea of what it is like to work for Queue-it.