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.



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