The reading level for this article is Novice

Before you begin your new and exciting venture into the business world, take time out to enjoy what you have already accomplished. Realize that what you are doing may not become a total success in the end and what you are more importantly gaining is business experience. Take a good look at the other young people you come in contact with everyday and understand the strides you have taken to set yourself apart from those around you and the benefits these efforts will earn you. Just by trying you have become an "overachiever" in your peer group.

As a young entrepreneur, there are certain business related and personal related obstacles you will have to endure in order to become successful. Some factors are real, such as where you will get your initial funding and where you will find time to manage your business, family, and school responsibilities all at once. Other factors, as we will discuss, are nothing more than self-inflicted obstacles such as worrying about your age or experience level when dealing with a possible client. These are nothing more than mental games you will play with yourself that will hinder your performance and success. As a young entrepreneur, you must overcome in order to (over)achieve.

In your first attempt at building a successful business you will undoubtedly come across times of trouble. To preempt feelings of failure during these inevitable situations, begin by taking a walk around the local mall. There you will find many of your peers working in jobs that they do not enjoy. These jobs will never serve a purpose in their lives other than paying for their current expenses. At the mall you will also find others, much older than you, working in dead-end jobs in which they have no control over their future or their success. They wake up, go to work, come home, go to sleep and start over again in the morning. You, however, are involved in a dynamic business experience that will help you throughout your life. Your age should never concern you. It should be used to your advantage rather than becoming a detriment to your success.

It is natural for young entrepreneurs to feel insecure about their age when dealing with people that are older. Not only does this type of thinking get you nowhere, it can drive your client prospects to your competition. At first, I felt awkward asking people of more advanced ages for payments. I run a web solutions business and thought "why would people pay money for my creations," even though I knew my designs were just as good or better than those of my competition. Although it may be a natural reaction to defend your age while speaking with clients or prospects, you must fight the urge. You will be defending a position that was never an issue with your client. By bringing up your own insecurities, you may plant that concern in the head of the person you are dealing with. People are worried about whether your service is going to help them or not, not about who is behind it. If you let this type of thinking go on, you will blame any type of failure on your age and inexperience instead of focusing on how to get better. This is a fatal business flaw. Youth should be a business asset rather than a liability.

Understand that your youth enables you to do many things in business and take risks that older people in the same position could not. You are young, without a wife and three kids, unlike your competition. You can take chances and not have to worry about feeding your children every day. Your youth grants you energy and a sharp mind. Use these factors to separate yourself from older competitors. You should view yourself as a "young gun" of business and take things head on, because if your business flops, so what? You can always go back to McDonald’s, but you can never regain your youth. If you need steady income while your business is still developing, use your part time job to your advantage. It could be the only source of capital you have at first. Once again, if either your job or your new business doesn’t work out, so be it, you can always make up for it in the future and you’ll be wiser as well.

It is prudent to take a step back and evaluate your position before embarking on a business venture. It may be difficult to gain funds for your business and a part time job may be the only way you will be able to achieve your business goals. I was fortunate when starting out because I (and my parents) had planned ahead and began saving money from the time I was a small child. If you have not already done so, go to the bank and open a savings account. Not a checking account, but a savings account that you will not withdraw from unless needed to advance your business. Begin to grow your funds in the bank while your business is still young. As you grow and expand the money can be used and replaced. Also be sure to save as much of your paycheck as you can while being able to pay your everyday expenses. As your business grows and you are able to support yourself, you should then focus your attention fully on developing your business.

School and schoolwork are other obstacles that are unique to younger entrepreneurs. It is important to set your priorities straight. No matter how successful your business is becoming or how much your business needs to be worked on, you must keep your schoolwork as your top priority. It is easy to ignore assignments and lose focus in school because of the million dollar ideas floating around in your head. Be sure to understand that school is what will help you later in life as you continue your business career. Set homework time aside every day and keep your grades in order. No one wants to deal with a businessperson who has failed out of high school.

As you begin your venture, know that you have already succeeded. It is the entrepreneurial spirit and will that will help you throughout your life. Even if your business is unable to stay afloat, know that you gained more business experience than your colleagues have in the classroom alone. As long as you use your youth to your advantage, stay aggressive and keep thinking positively, you will have a successful run. Never stop promoting yourself and your business and never be afraid of success! Good luck!

This Young Entrepreneurship article was written by D.J. Hanna on 2/14/2005

D. J. Hanna, 18, is the founder of Premium Web Solutions, a web design, graphic design, and web service company geared toward small businesses. He plans to attend Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Silberman College of Business for which he earned $17,000 yearly to attend. His planned major is Entrepreneurial Studies.