16 Sep Advice for Young Entrepreneurs
In honor of September 2021 marking three years in business, this month’s blog post is all about advice for young entrepreneurs. Read on for the checklist our founder wished she had, and retrospectively created as advice for other young entrepreneurs.
1) Create Processes, Refine & Automate
Young entrepreneurs may or may not have all of the experience that results in a streamlined process for clients to follow. But having a process is crucial for every step of your client’s journey. In B2B businesses, outline all of the steps clients need to take, from your initial call through project completion. Refer back to this process during sales calls, in emails, and throughout your working relationship in order to orient them in the phase of the project, provide timeframes, and generally have clear communication and boundaries. Think of it like a Gantt chart, but without the specifics. For B2C businesses, make a similar outline about how a customer would initially find out about your business through making a purchase and receiving their product.
Once you have a rough process in mind, test it out with clients and customers. If you find that some parts of the process are trickier for customers to navigate, refine your process accordingly.
And finally, the holy grail of entrepreneurship – automation. Once your process is relatively foolproof, it’s time to automate it. You may not be able to automate everything (ex. creating proposals or estimates for custom projects), but maybe you can set up a calendar so clients can schedule calls without days of back and forth. Or maybe you can personalize and automate your e-commerce emails or requests for product reviews.
2) Test Your Pricing and Pitch
When you’re first starting your business, it’s hard to know what will resonate with your ideal client. If you have existing or past customers, see if you can ask them a few questions about what they liked and what could use some improvement when it comes to working with you. (An easy, anonymous way is through a survey!) When you merge client feedback with your personal interests, you’ll have a good idea of where your strengths are and how you can position them to attract more customers.
Like the first piece of advice for young entrepreneurs above, you’ll create a first version of your pricing and pitch, then test it. If it works, great! Over time, you’ll also need revisit your pricing and pitch because of new experience and inevitable inflation. But the good news? Pricing is the easiest variable in the marketing mix to change! And over time, you’ll have more and more words to describe your business and products / services.
3) Get Connected
One of the benefits of age is that, through the years, you meet more people. When you’re a young entrepreneur just starting a business, you may not have a lot of connections yet. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make them. Get connected with local Meetups, networking groups, or your Chamber of Commerce to meet likeminded people who can support you in your new business. And don’t forget the power of adding friends and former colleagues on LinkedIn.
4) Keep Learning, Always
One of the things young entrepreneurs get asked is, “How old are you?” Whether it’s implied or explicitly said, asking about someone’s age questions their expertise. Even if it’s only out of curiosity. There are so many ways to handle this question, but the short answer is…politely.
After three years in business, these types of questions get asked less frequently, likely due to a combination of the normal passage of time and confidence in the process (again, back to the first piece of advice!). While not much can be said for the passage of time, confidence comes from repeatable outcomes and growth.
We’ve already mentioned process a few times, but the other aspect is growth. Keep learning new things every day. Sign up for newsletters about trends in your industry or the general business world. Consulting firms like McKinsey & Co and Google Alerts are a great place to start. You never know when you’ll get inspired by something happening out in the world, or something that could impact your ideal customers.
Take certification courses to up-level your skills in certain areas. If you’re an entrepreneur looking for more insight in digital marketing, we’ve got you covered with five different e-courses.
5) Befriend Impostor Syndrome
No matter how much you learn, who you work with, and how many years you’ve been in business, impostor syndrome lurks somewhere in the background. Impostor syndrome is such a buzzword in entrepreneurship, but an especially relevant feeling for young entrepreneurs who may not have mentors or role models their age, in the same space or industry. However, this last tip is to befriend impostor syndrome. Recognize how and when it shows up in your life, and surround yourself with resources that are 1) encouraging and 2) help you grow and learn.
People may doubt you, but it will only stop you if you doubt yourself. Knowledge (and therapy!) are the only two known antidotes to impostor syndrome. The best advice for young entrepreneurs is to keep learning, growing, and doing your best for your customers or clients.