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Young Entrepreneurs Starting a Business

Here’s a list of the top 50 young entrepreneurs from “Retire at 21.” This list is a little older, dated 2009.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is so astonishingly rich he was able to lose $1 billion in a day on the Facebook IPO, and he has a movie all about him. He also just got married.

I had to go all the way down to # 27 to find an African-American young ultra-successful entrepreneur, Jermaine Griggs, founder of Hear and Play. At #29 on the list is Ashley Qualls, founder of Whatever Life. At #36 is Mario Lavandiera, otherwise known as Perez Hilton.

By the way, if you like the crazy, creative t-shirt designs you can buy on Threadless, founder Jake Nickell has made $50 million from helping people to put their artwork out to the public.

So, what is Hear and Play, founded by Jermaine Griggs? Learning how to play piano by ear!

What is Whatever Life, founded by Ashley Qualls? First, she was only 14 when she started the site. Second, it’s a creator for MySpace layouts. It’s still operating, too (November, 2012).

Here’s another one: GoldieBlox, the engineering toy for girls. This company is founded by my niece Debra Sterling.

I hope you ordered one of the toys! Debbie’s Kickstarter campaign exceeded its goal in only three days, and made almost $100,000 more than its initial goal of $150,000. GoldieBlox is set to launch at the New York Toy Fair in February, 2013.

Debbie invested her life savings in starting the company. She invented the toy, and she was lucky, in that she had a fantastic team of creative people to work with her in getting the concept off the ground, including her ultra-creative husband Beau Lewis, and many other friends who put in sweat equity long before people started signing up on Kickstarter and taking orders.

What is awesome about GoldieBlox? (Besides “everything”?)

  • Unique approach to getting girls interested in engineering concepts
  • Kid-tested toy
  • Economic and real-world benefit – so far, only 10% of engineers are female. The more female engineers there are, as Debbie points out, the more benefit there will be to our world. They will literally help to build a new world for all of us.
  • Made for girls, by a girl.

But let’s say you have a different concept. You don’t have to change the world one toy at a time. You can do a lot of things.

I know from talking with students, including one already-successful young entrepreneur, that being a young entrepreneur has its own special challenges. One of the biggest challenges is:

  • Being taken seriously

One young entrepreneur I know pays an older, experienced attorney to go to every business meeting with him. He found that people wouldn’t listen to him at all if he was by himself. With the older, experienced person along, he suddenly found doors opening and opportunities emerging.

The same factors that go into the older, “encore” entrepreneurs achieving success also apply to young entrepreneurs. They need to learn to play to their strengths, and know when it’s best to team up with someone else. They need to correctly judge where they will most profitably spend their time, and when it’s a good idea to hire others or leverage support. Young entrepreneurs may be excellent at presenting the upside of their business concept or product. Often, they are incredibly effective at showing enthusiasm and presenting potential success.

The other side, particularly working with lenders or investors with many questions . . . not so much.

This is where a professional business plan comes in. The plan needs to show the potential for success, and correctly executed, will give the young entrepreneur a road map for success. The plan will also present potential downsides and worst-case scenarios. It will also provide a framework for investors and lenders to understand their role and the benefits they will receive.

Just as with older or encore entrepreneurs, young entrepreneurs would be better-served by engaging business planning services than by trying to do it all on their own. They will also benefit from an outside perspective on their ideas. If they choose to work with Pacific Human Capital, they’ll find total support for their concepts and abilities, and will get the products they need to make their business a reality.

Contact us, if you’re a young entrepreneur, or you are working with or helping a young entrepreneur in the start-up or expansion stages.



Starting an Encore Business

What’s an encore business? According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, an encore business is a start-up owned by someone who is 50 or older.

The Small Business Administration has many resources for many different entrepreneurs, including those who are 50 and older, women, minorities and others.  It’s a fantastic resource in general, but the primary drawback to the SBA is time and access. The organization partners with groups like SCORE (retired business owner and executive volunteers) to help businesses get started and grow.

Which brings us to  . . .

You get what you pay for.

The SBA and SCORE offer free services. Their success rate cannot be determined, since neither keeps statistics about how many people sign up for their workshops or enroll in their services. Now, with online services such as mentoring and “live” help, it’s even more difficult to determine how many entrepreneurs who sign up with SBA or SCORE and end up with a successful business. Some of the studies are at least 10 years old, such as this well-known study from Texas that produced the information that only 20% of restaurants survive beyond two years.

Encore businesses

Some business reports indicate that the growth of new small business is slowing. This report from Washington Monthly paints a dire picture. Reuters covers the facts for the most recent year full statistics are available: 2010. Start-ups are slowing down, and have been for a long time.


That was then, this is now.

You are on the website of a start-up, and this start-up isn’t going to fail. And neither are you.

How do you get your business off the ground?

It’s not easy, and it won’t happen overnight. I have one main sales tool to encourage you to invest in the services of Pacific Human Capital. A preventable cause of failure of new start-up businesses is learning how to invest your time and finances wisely as quickly as possible. This is why I mentioned the SBA and SCORE. You could be thinking, “Why should I pay anybody any money when I can get everything for free from them?” See above (“You get what you pay for.”). Simply put, while the SCORE executives and mentors are fantastic people, there is no incentive for them to do anything other than repeat to you what they knew or learned during their active business career. This worked for them. It doesn’t mean it will work for you.

The SBA is comprised of many people who’ve never run a business in their life. Neither is the best fit for a new or startup business, especially in new or cutting-edge sectors. All businesses have unique challenges, so a “one size fits all” approach isn’t the best, either.

Also, do you have hours and hours – maybe even, if Malcolm Gladwell was right in his book Outliers – 10,000 hours (5 years of full time work) to learn to do what I do? Because that’s what the SBA is asking people to do when they fill out the 150 question SCORE/SBA business plan template.

Invest your time and money wisely.

Of course you do not have to pay for professional business planning services. But if you want to take work that you did during your first career, such as a former professor of Gerontology did, and turn it into a business that will help others and make money, you can go with your strengths: organizing a strong team and putting together a great product and operations plan. Then, you can get someone to write your ideas in professional business plan language, study the competition, help project expansion plans and income, and put the business in context for funders. The professor knew his strengths, and he knew that he needed help to put the rest of the pieces of the puzzle together.

Another company would have come up with an alternative to the medical management software that was a result of his own original research and work, if he had invested many months meeting with SCORE volunteers and attending SBA training sessions. They would have already sold the product to his customers by the time he even began to market it.

You probably have a lot of ideas about a “dream” business. Or, you have experience that you’ve always thought could be a successful business concept. The possibilities are endless.

Instead of listening to the negative nay-sayers out there, let’s listen to Forbes on new start-up businesses and entrepreneurs. There is a new drive to support the creation of new businesses by several sectors of entrepreneurs, including “encore” businesses operated by what Forbes calls “boomers,” who are getting younger every day! 45-54 is the Forbes age group for the “boomer” entrepreneurs. And here I thought I was on the tail end of the baby boom.

Others who are contributing to the entrepreneur trend include young entrepreneurs (24-30), women entrepreneurs, and ethnically diverse entrepreneurs, especially members of the Latino community.

Look at new initiatives like Grow America. You don’t have to wait around for them to give you money. You can make it on your own.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you get your encore business off the ground.




Starting a Business? Try the next wave in business planning . . .

Pacific Human Capital can write your business plan for SBA funding, bank loans, government grant programs and more.

We are also “more than” a business plan writing company. You will find many excellent alternatives in business plan writing out there.

The competitive edge we offer is:

  • Quality – writing, appearance, usability and flexibility
  • Multi-industry, business size and business sector experience
  • U.S. and Canada business plan capable
  • We get it! We get you, and we get the funder perspective. We know how to tell your story to the people you need to have hear, understand, and respond — from lenders to investors to granting organizations, government and private.
  • Personalized attention and the human touch
  • Entrepreneurs writing plans for other entrepreneurs . . .

Which leads us to . . .

The Pacific Human Capital difference. Unlike some business plan companies, we are not comprised of writers who have business degrees, and who don’t have experience in making businesses work. We are real-world, common sense people, and above all, have years of experience in getting projects off the ground, whether they are in the for-profit or not-for-profit sectors. We have experience sitting on all sides of the table, from boards of directors to funding committees to asking the bank for a loan. We are experienced in the government, private business and investment, and not-for-profit/shared value sectors.

Contact us now to learn how we can help you get your business where you want it to be.