It can seem as if you can’t go to a party without bumping into at least three people who are in the process of setting up their own company. That or they’re working towards becoming entrepreneurs. And this can only be a good thing – it suggests innovation, creativity, and passion. However, it also shows that the marketplace is becoming crowded, as more people than ever before ditch the corporate office and go-it alone.
So how can young people trying to break into this crowded space hope to stand out? Established entrepreneurs share their stories.
Having a knowledge of social media can really give young entrepreneurs the edge. Understanding the direction the media landscape is evolving in and having your finger on the pulse can help young entrepreneurs break into the market, recommends Paresh Davdra, CEO and co-founder of RationalFX and Xendpay, a UK foreign exchange and international payments provider. “The media landscape has now evolved into an innovative and interactive model, and for the willing participant, it can provide the right avenues to help you stand out. This may include presenting your product / USP over a Ted talk, a radio podcast, a YouTube video or even at an industry association breakfast. Such engagements provide a platform to present yourself, and this would certainly help increase your networking circle – which is very important.”
Rob Moore, author, public speaker, entrepreneur, property investor, property educator and co-founder of Progressive Property, agrees that social media is crucial for a young entrepreneur. “Try to build communities of loyal followers on all the social media platforms and leverage free access to millions of customers.
“I’ve used social media to get two public speaking world records and get my books published. And I’m just a normal, (once) young entrepreneur who started with nothing but put himself out there. You can use social media and the modern internet to find your outsourced staff, build your systems and set up any business with lower cost, less overheads and far less risk, reaching more customers faster than ever before.”
Keeping your finger on the pulse was mentioned time and time again by established entrepreneurs. Aiden Bell, founder of EnviroBuild, says: “You really have to keep current trends at the forefront of your business. As consumer interest in sustainability hits an all-time high, people are now thinking about their social and ecological impact of their actions more than ever. To stand apart then, it’s important that entrepreneurs increasingly pay more attention to their social conscience and ask what they’re doing to support sustainability.”
Having passion for your idea and not just passion for being an entrepreneur is also important. “Too many people just like the idea of being their own boss. Some make it, but others bypass crucial learning opportunities which means if their business doesn’t work out, there is no back-up,” said one expert who chose to remain nameless.
Aiden Bell agrees with the importance of having passion. “An important aspect that sets successful young entrepreneurs apart is having a passion and following through on their actions to support that goal. Modern consumers are interested in businesses with an ethical slant; a third of UK consumers claim to be very concerned about issues regarding the origin of products. Having CSR is not always enough, as consumers look for genuine people in business who follow through with their actions.”
Rob Moore says that there is plenty of space to still be an entrepreneur, it’s just about finding the right market. “When starting out, it can seem like everyone is starting a new business. This is the first myth. There are now 7.5 billion people in the world and according to Forbes, 543,000 new businesses start up each month. That sounds like a lot, but that’s only 0.00087 per cent per year! Well over 95 per cent of these business will not be your competition, and according to Forbes 80 per cent of those fail in the first 18 months. So the reality is that the main competition is with yourself and your courage and conviction to just do it. Get started and get perfect later.”
Of course, nobody just falls into a successful position. Piers Chead, founder of The Formations Company advises entrepreneurs just starting to out to apply for every business grant, innovation award and funding programme out there. “It’s not just about winning the money – the added benefits of being recognised by a credible body or organisation are equally if not more valuable. By drawing attention to your business, whatever stage you’re at, you’ll open up opportunities to gain new contacts, get featured in the press, collect feedback and potentially even longer-term mentorship.”