It's been eight years since the global economic recession took place in December 2007. It left a trail of unemployment, a tougher jobs market, a surplus of unemployed graduates and low public confidence in its wake.
It was around this time that entrepreneurship and social enterprise took off with thousands of people taking matters into their own hands and starting up their own businesses to resolve the issue of joblessness. It's certainly the reason why I decided to start up my own business.
Technology has dramatically changed the modern world of work has dramatically changed and continues to change attitudes in favour of a more fluid career path.
A study conducted by The Prince's Trust found that 5% of young people are currently self employed, that 25% of young people expect to become self employed in the next five years and 30% expect to be self employed in the next future.
The Apprentice candidate Solomon Akhtar showed us that young people can become entrepreneurs by being passionate about an idea and utilising their knowledge and skills set. (Just don't put two pages of sailing boats in a business proposal!)
As a young entrepreneur myself, here is a list of valuable tips and advice that I have been given by business mentors and colleagues:
1. Think about what you really want and go for it
Starting up your own business can feel very overwhelming and it's normal to feel stressed out most of the time - especially if you have no previous experience of doing so (as I did).
A useful technique that many successful entrepreneurs use is to mentally visualise themselves reaching their target goal and then implement realistic strategies that will help them to achieve it.
2. Be financially savvy
The Prince's Trust Report found that 59% of young people felt that the only thing stopping them from starting up a business was a lack of money.
Finances are a crucial part of running a business, large or small, so it is important to keep an eye on your earnings and spendings. Generally speaking, it is now cheaper than ever to start up a business thanks to the Internet.
If you are worried about finances, it is worth getting advice from a financial planner or a bank manager. A useful way to streamline your finances is have a separate account for your daily expenses, another for your business income and a third as a savings account.
3. Patience really is a virtue: but it pays off
The process of starting up your own business is a laboured love that takes time. I didn't make a profit for a whole year, but I am glad that I stuck to my guns and persevered through the tough times.
A lack of patience is one of the main reasons why so many start ups fail; even if the idea that you have is fantastic and will generate a profit.
Whenever you feel like this it's important to put things into perspective. Take a step back and remember how excited, determined and passionate you were about your idea. Remember the reasons why you chose a different path and began your business.
4. Support other entrepreneurs
A great piece of advice I was given from a mentor was to avoid the four "Cs" and don't:
Every entrepreneur's journey is as unique as their business and we all have our ups and downs. It's not worth putting each other down or feeling envious of another's success. We're all at different stages in our businesses and it is far more nicer (and professional) to support each other. After all: we're more or less in the same boat.
5. Network, network, network!
Networking is a vital lifeline of any start up. Yes, it's a very daunting prospect as we're all scared of looking needy or judged, but - in the words of my mentor - "They have two eyes, two ears, a stomach and a bum. There's nothing to worry about."
Networking is more than just generating profit, attending swanky events to drink champagne or rubbing shoulders with big shots. It is the greatest source of support and advice that you will ever have. I always ensure that I have a minimum of 10 business cards on me at all times; you never know when an opportunity will come along!
Other entrepreneurs and seasoned business owners are more than happy to give advice and support upcoming entrepreneurs because they know how difficult it is.
With technology at our fingertips, it is now far more easier to build up a wide ranging professional network. The Internet and having a smart phone makes this process so much more easier as you can connect with people from all over the world via forms of social media and LinkedIn.
You can also directly contact individuals you admire as well as traditional word of mouth.
Starting up a business from scratch is a scary prospect and sometimes you may want to just give up. Please don't. I promise you that the modern working world needs young creative innovators with ideas and that this demand isn't going to go down anytime soon.
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