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5 Tips for Young People Starting a Business or Side-Hustle



starting a business at a young age
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The decision to start a business or any sort of “side-hustle” takes a lot of nerve, especially when you’re only in your 20s. Yet, the ability to power on and keep going – through all the ups and downs of business is a feat to be truly admired.

Although us Gen Y and Gen Z’s have grown up in the easiest time in history to start a business, we arguably need to work 10 times harder just to prove that we’re serious about making a success out of our ventures – and not just vying for the “digital nomad” lifestyle or the trendy title of “Entrepreneur” out of a sense of millennial entitlement.

So here are 5 tips to help young people when starting a business or side-hustle and finding their feet in the world of business:

1. Don’t let your age deter you

Young people can get a lot of flack for the cliché perceptions like entitlement and narcissism that surround our younger generations. And sure, we don’t yet have the life experience and work experience that comes with being older, but don’t let anyone (of any age) tell you that what you want to achieve in business cannot be done.

Remember that age is just a number – and that being younger (and therefore less experienced in life) does not automatically equal the inability to succeed in a business venture. It’s actually quite fortunate that we have time on our side, as time is our greatest asset as human beings. We have years to learn, try new things, pivot, fail, and succeed in whatever we try our hand at.

“Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something. You got a dream, you gotta protect it. When people can’t do something themselves, they are going to tell you that you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period.” – Will Smith

2. Use social media to your advantage

We’re native users who have grown up with much of today’s technology (the main area being the internet and computers), but we have also learned to adapt to changes. Most millennials grew up during the transition from VHS to DVDs to Blu-Ray then to Netflix. This technological and social media savviness gives us the business edge – particularly when it comes to online business.

Even if you’re not a social media expert, or you’re not as proficient as you’d like to be, use your savviness with technology to learn more digital skills through avenues like online courses or YouTube. Social media is the holy grail of marketing in today’s business world. Sometimes, as native personal users, we take it for granted. You can take advantage of social media, and use it as your greatest asset when it comes to starting a business or side-hustle.

3. Network and collaborate

They say “your network is your net worth”. The people you meet on your business journey (including your existing family friends) are going to be crucial to your business success. So make sure you get out and network.

You could attend business networking meetings, conferences, participate in relevant business Facebook groups, collaborate with other businesspeople (you could even find a mentor), and build the all-important online community around your brand on your chosen social media channels.

Networking can lead to referrals which are one of the “golden nuggets” of business – they’re a powerful way to get new customer or clientele. So a strong network is what is going to help bring you those referrals.

4. Fail fast and learn fast

Remember that we have time on our side, but that doesn’t mean we should take it slow. When things aren’t working, when things have gone stagnant, or when things have gone wrong, we need to learn to pivot.

A good way to help pivot is to take on a learning mindset. Always be looking for new opportunities to not only upgrade yourself (personally, mentally and emotionally) but to upgrade your business, skills and systems as well.

See what other successful business people in your industry are doing or speaking about. Make sure you’re always keeping a tab on the latest developments and trends in the world of digital marketing and business. Being a ahead of the curve is crucial in today’s online business environment.

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.” – Richard Branson

5. Sacrifice

Building a business or side-hustle is going to take some sacrifice. Rather than buying the the most expensive and trendiest sneakers or the latest iPhone, invest that money into Facebook advertising, or an online course to help you up-skill.

Even though we live in the age of immediacy where everything is available to us at the tap of a finger on our smartphone, starting a business or side-hustle (let alone building it and sustaining it) is not easy. It takes hours and hours of work, late nights, sacrifice and self-doubts. You can’t expect it to be a quick process.

So while we’re young (and want to enjoy our youth while it lasts), when it comes to starting a business, there will be times when we need to make the choice between doing what everybody else our age is doing, or working in or on our business.

Of course, there needs to be a healthy ratio of work-life balance, but learning to sacrifice a few pleasures now (like going out on the town every Friday and Saturday night) will pay off in the long term when it comes to your business. With great sacrifice comes great reward.

Starting your own business or side-hustle when you’re in your 20s can be daunting yet incredibly thrilling at the same time. Whether you’re thinking about starting one or you’re already in the midst of the journey, put in the work and be proud of the path you’ve chosen – and remember that age is just a number!

Have you thought about starting a business or side-hustle? If so, how did you motivate yourself to start? Share your thoughts with us below!

With the desire to go "digital nomad" and help businesses with their social media, Chelsea Tobin founded her boutique social media agency, Queen of Swords Media, in 2018. She attended Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Business (Marketing major) and a Bachelor of Communication Studies (PR major). She enjoys speaking and writing about her journey so far in the world of business, self-development and mindfulness as a young millennial woman navigating her way through life, and of course social media. You can follow her on Instagram here.

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Then this article is a great place to start. Networking isn’t hard on paper…you go along to online and in-person meetings, make new connections and build relationships, and those relationships lead to more work so you can grow your business! The challenge is that in reality, it isn’t quite so straightforward, as our emotions get involved and make things much tougher.

It’s incredibly common for nerves to creep in and to feel overwhelmed and apprehensive when it comes to networking – even when it isn’t new to you. But how can you become more successful at it, feel less self-conscious, and make networking work for you and your business?

Here’s a few tips to help you embrace every business networking opportunity you get, so you can grow your business and achieve your goals.

Rock up with confidence

If you want to keep those nerves at bay and ooze confidence at networking get-togethers, you’ll need to downplay it rather than seeing it as a big occasion. Try not to put pressure on yourself and see it as a casual meet-up with a bunch of people with similar goals to you. To help you relax in the run-up to the event, be sure to set achievable goals and expectations before you go.

Keep your chin up and your goals in mind – positivity is key. One easy goal for your first networking meeting is very simply to speak to one other person and see where the conversation goes. Introduce yourself and your business, but take the time to listen to their story, too. It’ll only take a few minutes and will be over before you know it, so it’s nothing to fear. You may even enjoy it and want to speak to a few more people, too!

“You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie

Where to go networking

If you’ve never been networking before, it might not be very easy to find a group – but only because there’s so much choice and you don’t know where to start your search! Groups come in different sizes and styles, so it’s important to find one that suits you and your business. Informal, formal, big, small… the choice is yours.

For your first meeting, start small to ease yourself in – a big group could prove too daunting, and stop you from feeling comfortable enough to get involved. After all, you want to make a strong first impression!

If you’re wondering which group to opt for in the long-term, give a few a go! Get a feel for them, speak to as many people as you can, and see which one suits! You’ll know when a group feels right for you, and you can see where those all-important relationships are most likely to be built. If a group doesn’t feel like the right for you, give a different one a go.

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This will happen for you, as long as you put the effort into building those relationships. If you take the time to get to know people, and then check in with them and support them, they’ll see you as a trustworthy and reliable contact who they can call on. And when they feel that way, those leads and referrals you’re looking for will come a-knocking.

Once you’ve made relationships with people who you trust, and they’ve had a positive experience working with you, you can even ask for referrals! But don’t rush this, as you don’t want to inadvertently push people away or try and force the relationship along too quickly.

When you do get an opportunity to work with someone you’ve met at a networking group, go above and beyond to offer more value than they’re expecting, as then, they’ll be much more likely recommend you and introduce you to more of their contacts!

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