Starting your own business, at any age, can be a daunting and unnerving experience. Jenk Oz, the 12 year old CEO of iCoolKid provides his top ten business tips for likeminded young entrepreneurs…
A recent poll commissioned by digital lifestyle brand, iCoolKid, revealed that ‘Generation Z’, (those currently aged 8 to 18, born approximately between 1995 - 2010), are more entrepreneurial and business savvy than previous generations. Generation Z make up 27% of current global population, and the poll highlighted that 50% of this age group currently aspire to launch their own start-up and are hungry for entrepreneurial success – with a further 15% stating that they have already begun work to make their entrepreneurial dream a reality, prior to finishing secondary/high school.
It’s essential to keep motivated and review your actions regularly to ensure you’re taking the necessary steps in order to keep moving forward. Reviewing your goals on a regular basis is also a fantastic way to keep ideas fresh, and ensure you’re constantly striving towards the ultimate goal… success!
Success means different things to different people. For one budding entrepreneur it could be based on the growth a company achieves over a specific period. For another, success could be around building a positive brand reputation and being known as a leading authority within a particular sector.
Constructive feedback is key
“Constructive feedback is super helpful, as it allows you to assess your strengths and also helps you to highlight areas for improvement. Sometimes this can be tough, and you aren’t always going to like what other people have to say, but it is necessary for growth. Actively seeking constructive feedback is the first step, listening to constructive feedback is a further leap forward; but actually, taking action after receiving constructive feedback is the real game changer, especially in the business world!
Ask yourself, why are you doing this?
“Getting your business ideas off the ground can be scary and stressful. To keep focused and ensure you don’t stray off course, regularly ask yourself – why am I doing this? Why now? And how is my idea going to disrupt and dominate the industry? The ‘why’ will probably change as you develop and establish your business, but that’s why I think asking these questions regularly can be useful – so you know all your focuses link up.”
Devise your elevator pitch
“Networking is so important to help build brand awareness and gain support from business investors/business partners. People don’t have a lot of time, so before you do any networking you need to make sure that you practice a pitch which is quick, succinct and impressive. When you meet people, make sure that your conversation is impactful and engaging. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so it better be the best you’ve got! Remember, this is your business - so no one knows it better than you!”
Use your network
“We’ve all heard the phrase ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’, and there is definitely some truth in this. No one expects you to know it all however, you will be expected to use those in your network to help build on your skills and expertise. Use your inner circle to develop a wider circle of connections and, where possible, ask each person for help depending on where their strengths lie. You need to be bold when you are first starting out – those who don’t ask, don’t get.” Start with family first, then move outward from there.
“Always keep your ultimate dream at the forefront of your mind – but recognise, you aren’t going to make it a reality overnight – it’s going to take a lot of work! Make sure you regularly evaluate your ideas, so you can continue to mold and shape them into bigger and better concepts. Big standout ideas are the exception, not the norm, so you need to keep chipping away. Try storyboarding your plans every day for 30 days! Talk about your ideas with others and think it through last thing before bed every night. Let it fill your dreams and then get up the next day and run over it again and again until you have a final concept that you’re confident will make an impact.
What’s also important to keep in mind though is that even the world’s most recognisable names, such as J.K Rowling and Richard Branson, suffered knock backs before achieving their dreams. Knock backs are very common in business so you need to anticipate them, and where possible, learn and grow from them – rather than letting them throw you off course.”
Create an ‘ideas’ board of directors!
“Your inner circle is not only great for building connections, they are also invaluable when it comes to sense-checking ideas and gaining honest insight into your business plans.
A great tip for any budding entrepreneur is to put together your own ‘Ideas’ Board of Directors. Start by thinking of a diverse group of people who are good listeners and who want to share their time and advice with you. For example, pick a close friend 2-3 years older than yourself, a couple of teachers from school, a close family friend who may have started their own business, your dad’s friend the tech expert, your mum’s friend the lawyer etc… - until you have 4-5 people you can count on to bounce ideas off and give you honest advice. Try and meet them once a month to test drive, get feedback and help move your ideas forward. Because these people won’t be involved every day, they may see things in a totally different light.
There are also lots of Young Entrepreneur Fairs and Business Camps popping up these days, where you can go and meet other motivated young people and share ideas. These types of event can provide a great opportunity to develop entrepreneurial skills and gain confidence talking about your ideas in front of others.”
Find your specialism
“Unfortunately, competition in the business world today is fierce. Being good at something doesn’t cut the mustard… you need to be great! Think about what gives your idea depth as this will help you to determine what makes you unique, differentiate yourself and get noticed by your target audience. Finding a complete niche area to focus on is the Holy Grail. If you can say you are the ‘first’ to do something, then it creates a solid foundation for your business.”
Know your target audience
“It’s essential that you know your target audience inside out - what they like and don’t like, who they admire and who they don’t. You must also conduct thorough research into who your audience follows/admires, and who they avoid. Most importantly, what is their preferred method and frequency of engagement? This will enable you to be targeted, more successful and more passionate in your business efforts and communications, with the aim of achieving maximum ROI.”
“Never underestimate the power of a to-do list. Networking, building supplier relationships, and getting to grips with the financial aspects of a start-up project can be very time consuming and seem never-ending. Writing things down in order of priority will help you to set yourself timely goals, and to make sure you meet your deadlines. Being organised will also help you to build a positive reputation as someone who’s good to do business with.”
“Electronic word of mouth recommendations (E-WOM) are so important for start-ups today. However, it is vital that your brand social channels are professionally set up and managed daily to present a positive ‘shop window’ for the online world. Make sure to stay true to your brand when developing your social media tone of voice, and post regular, engaging content to align with your target audience’s interests. Most of all, be proactive and engage in two-way conversations with your audience to build long lasting relationships that will increase your chances or gaining fierce brand loyalty in the long-term.”
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