Recently, I’ve been thinking about some of the problems faced by young people starting up a business and how these are different to those faced by older people.
The first, and most obvious one is financial, as a young person you are less likely to have much money saved and may well be viewed as more of a risk by lenders. To compensate for this you need to have a really good business plan that is both realistic and has been well thought out (I’ve seen many business plans where sales figures seem to have been plucked out of thin air for example). You can get advice and help with this not only from local business advisers and accountants but also if you are aged between 18 and 30 from the Prince’s Trust here in the UK. Remember that any new business takes time to generate a profit and may even take several years before it’s a substantial profit so you will need to have a certain amount of money to be able to cover this period.
Having said that, I personally know of a couple of local small businesses that started up with not a lot of capital but with a good idea that allowed them to start to generate profits much earlier than normal by concentrating on buying just the stock and equipment they needed to start and then expanded the range later. In fact, one of these businesses celebrates their 10th anniversary later this year (2019) and the other has been going for 4 years now.
This is a slightly odd one, but you will not only have to find employees with the right skills but also find people that don’t mind “taking orders” from a young person, especially if they are a lot older than you. Of course, you would hope that this isn’t going to be a problem and that it works in many organisations where new managers are appointed, but the difference is that if you are a younger manager you have the weight of the company behind you (if you don’t why are you a manager) and if it’s your own business there may be the feeling of “what do they know about business, they are only 20 something” for example. It’s up to you to recruit the right staff and prove that you understand your business and the challenges that it faces.
This is a problem for any new business, many people buy a brand believing that there’s expertise behind it. Of course, if your business is selling something new to the marketplace then you can be that brand and use marketing to consolidate your position. The trick here is to maybe undercut the market leader a little (not too much though as it will be affecting your profit) as your overheads may be less than large businesses, or you may be able to compete on customer service – I’m sure that everyone has tried to get hold of customer service in a big firm and ended up spending what seems like hours waiting on the phone. Remember though that it’s important to know who your target customers are and not to try to appeal to everyone despite the temptation to do so.
This is one that took me a while to realise. If you are a younger person starting up a business you may have a young family. What will you do with the children while you are working? Don’t let anyone tell you that running a small business is a 9 to 5 operation and that you can take time off whenever you want to (sure there are some businesses that you might be able to work only while the children are at school or in bed, but that’s not the usual case). Will you need a childminder or will Nanny look after the children? I know from experience that some working parents drop the grandchildren off before school and that the grandparents take them to school and pick them up afterwards, but that’s not always possible of course so you might need to organise some sort of official childcare.