Questions

Hi, I'm Camille, 16, and am wondering what I can do to become an entrepreneur. I am an extremely determined teenager!

I am an online high school student, but can't bare the thought of studying anymore. I love learning, but just the thought of being sat down in front of a book drives me nuts nowadays. I want to start working, and learn more as I go. I live to learn and not the other way around. I would like to start an online business, selling my hand-made articles, such as knitting, carfts, etc. I have found some videos and sites that give advice on how to become an entrepreneur however I'd like to start with a strong foundation, so I figured it was best to try contact somebody. Thanks for your help! Camille

4answers

Etsy is a platform for selling craft items like what you're describing.

But let's step back. You say you're bored with school. OK: we all were. The question is, how can you inject some excitement into your life so that school becomes interesting?

Any business is a challenge. First you have to find out whether people actually want what you have to offer. If they don't, go pick something else.

There's the example of a woman who so badly wanted a storefront bakery. But she just couldn't cover the costs of having a storefront. So she rented space at a commercial bakery and did her business that way instead--making the goods and delivering them to her customers but not having the expense of a storefront.

Life often gives you what you want, but not necessarily in the exact form you demanded it in. So if your first idea doesn't work out, move on and pick another. That's the spirit of entrepreneurship.

Now, as you're researching and putting into action your business ideas, do you think you could look at how what you're learning in school is relevant or could be useful to what you're doing? Sometimes, I know, it can be a stretch (it's 20 years later and I still have not used the 3 years of statistical analysis I learned in college...or the algebra I learned in high school.)

Here's an article I wrote--it was a Clarity answer, originally--about what a young person can do with their life:
http://www.salestactics.org/what-should-i-do-with-my-life/

It might help you.

Running a business is not a cakewalk. It's hard work and requires persistence. Things don't turn out the way you want, and there are a lot of emotional grinding of gears. There are great highs and terrible lows. If you do well, some friends and family are going to resent it and talk behind your back...or in front of you about it.

Be ready for all that, if this is the path you choose.

No matter what business you're in, you need two things:

Traffic

and

Conversion.

Physical stores get traffic from walk-ins (that's why "location location location" is so important) and advertising. Then they convert by presentation, pricing, sales, and a number of other factors within their control.

An online store gets traffic from paid advertising, social media clicks (look up "Red Dress Boutique" for a success in this area), and possibly hooking onto someone else's platform eg. Etsy, eBay, Amazon for their traffic & search engine power.

Building your business on someone else's platform is ultimately a bad idea, because it can be taken away from you at any time and for no reason. So be wary. It's OK to start there, but as soon as you can, get buyers out of that platform and onto your own.

The more you get into business, the more you'll find MATH is necessary. You need to understand your numbers. That's like a doctor checking your pulse and blood pressure. Is the patient doing well, dead, having a heart attack? It would be nice to know, wouldn't it.

I was terrible at math in high school. In the course of a few months, when I was 19, I switched around and started becoming very good at math. 99% of it was my attitude. I had *believed* I was bad at math...and so I was. Until I ran into a teacher of a math course I absolutely had to do well in to get into the college I wanted to be in.

He taught me that as long as I learned and practiced the method, I would do well. I would get the right answer every time. And I did! Then all through college, math was no big deal.

In a business, you need to measure Cost of Customer Acquisition, Cost of Goods Sold, Gross Margin, Net Profit, and so on. These are the heart beat and blood pressure of the business.

The alternative is you can not take it seriously, throw a few goods at the market and hope something happens.

Who would you rather be?

Start watching shows like Shark Tank and The Profit to get an idea of how serious entrepreneurs really work.

From Shark Tank, you'll quickly see how important a distribution system is to a business. That's what the Sharks often bring: the ability connect someone's product to a big distribution network, so that many sales can be made.

From The Profit, you'll learn how the numbers matter inside the business. Marcus gets in there and finds out the truth--and often, the owners are really flaky and have no idea what's truly going on. Numbers = control.

Best of luck to you...and my best advice, which is that sticking with it, or persistence, is more important than any technical skill. You can learn the skill. But if you aren't around to learn it because you got distracted or gave up, well, then it doesn't have any value, does it.


Answered 4 years ago

I also learn best when I have a specific goal or problem that I want to solve. Just start selling your creations through existing outlets. It sounds like Etsy.com might be the best fit for you. When you start selling you'll gain important experience, skills, and knowledge along the way. This will including
1) learning how to effectively present your products (how to write good descriptions, and how to take good photos, etc.),
2) how to interact with customers (how to package your products well, how to write thank you emails to clients, etc.)
3) How to advertise your products by posting about them on blogs, wearing them to events, giving them to influential people, etc.

There are a lot of other skills you'll learn along the way too that you'll be surprised by, the ones above are just things I thought of off the top of my head. There's another thing that will be extremely helpful: a 'mentor', someone who has a lot of experience in doing what you want to do. You'll find that people that are truly passionate about their work are also very passionate about helping others achieve what they've achieved, as long as you show the same passion. While finding a 'mentor' will help a lot, it's not something that you should try to do before you start selling and learning as I described above. Like I said, you have to be able to show that you have passion and commitment to be able to really start getting help from others. But as you do this, you can start reaching out to people you admire in the business, through Twitter, or Etsy, or LinkedIn, or their personal email on their website, or maybe you'll meet someone personally (like at a meetup through Meetup.com or something).

Best of luck, and if you want any further advice send me a message and I'll give you a code for a free call,

all the best,

Lee


Answered 4 years ago

Although I'm sure the previous suggestions are helpful I would like to add my thoughts and hopefully heighten your insights on the matter.
You seem to be eager to get going on with life in general, be careful of this. There is this thing I call Entrepreneurial A.D.D. - you just want to do something and can easily be distracted from one venture, project, idea to another very quickly. This can happen during a research for the current one or as the current develops into a more tangible opportunity. Be weary of pivoting at each 'possible opportinity' no matter what you do things won't necessarily get any easier to reach success so if you are on track in something in particular remain the course and see it through its end - even if it fails at least you know.

Write down your ideas, I kept a small journal with ideas for the longest time. These ranged from marketing, business, financing tactics to venture/invention/service ideas for possible businesses.

Learn about Blue Ocean Strategy, this will help you craft a valuable proposition for any business and can help you turn a typical small cap business into a sustainable growth structure for wealth.

Never second doubt yourself. This is harder to prove and to help you be aware of when you are doing it, but always keep that in mind...Are you second doubting your original thoughts? Did you just changed your mind? Did you just pivoted unintentionally? - Never second doubt your first choice. Instinct is nothing more than our subconscious knowledge trying to get our attention about something we already know to some degree.

Pick a business you can do on the weekends only. If the business grows your time demand will grow with it. This can be renting out tables, party supplies, computer based services, tutoring, create digital goods such as drawing/cutting/learning kits, a cleaning business, etc.
All these seemingly simple businesses have low barriers to entry but once you delve into them you will find out that they all provide you with the same challenges in marketing, growth, sales coaching, finance, customer relations, legal matters..so is a cheap way to learn tangible/transferable skills to other businesses.
If you can afford an audible subscription is like $14 a month, get audio books about management, business, marketing and leaders who shown these traits in their lives. my blog, www.humbertovalle.com has a list of books you can find also find on audible. I strongly believe that experiencing different levels of hardships and joyful moments in life create leaders, second best option is digging deep into the lives of those who achieved greatness - from their biographies... Like the Steve Jobs, The House of Morgan, The Virgin Way, The Everything Store - Jeff Bezos story, and Zappos book... House of Morgan, Zappos, Steve Jobs books in particular are written in a way that almost let you experience what they were going through and can help you craft your own mindset into entrepreneurship.

Find a mentor you can ask daily if needed.

Never copy your competition - this will inevitable kill your business.

Never use lingo when talking to prospect investors or customers.

Learn SEO, check out growthhackers.com, learn to code is simpler than you think and actually very beneficial http://mbsy.co/onemonth/18573440

Never get a loan for a business. Finding how to get investors, or a bootstrap method to fund your business will teach you so much about business that by the time you acquire your own funding w/o loans you will be better equipped to launch and grow a business.

If you have any questions or want further guidance feel to message me otherwise I hope to see you in the Times in the future :) Best of luck.


Answered 4 years ago

If you want to be a SUCCESSFUL entrepreneur, absorbing information is key.

I don't like to read but I love to learn. I absorb 12+ books a year and if you haven't heard the saying

"Leaders are readers." - It's a good one!

Try converting to Audible to listen to books and see if that helps also you could watch videos on lessons.

KEY - You have to learn about marketing, HR, tech, and so much more! Hope this helps.


Answered 4 years ago

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