Gen Y: Startup Tips

By Sophia Bera

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) All entrepreneurs fail, and way more than once. Those who succeed are not afraid of falling. They get back up every single time, looking at failures as a lesson learned. We here at WWR have a focus on women entrepreneurship. While this article is directed at Gen Y, it really pertains to any women in business (young or older) who want to take the entrepreneurial leap.


More than half of Gen Y-ers start or want to start their own business. I wholeheartedly believe that entrepreneurship is the new job security for Gen Y, which is why today I’m focusing on how to prepare yourself to become a successful business owner.

Relying on someone else to provide you with a paycheck is a big gamble. It sounds counterintuitive, but think of it this way.

Deriving 100% of your income from a single source is the same as putting all your money in one stock. It is actually pretty risky, as the Great Recession shows. You are at the mercy of others’ decisions that you have no control over.

Working for someone else used to be the safe option 20 years ago, because starting your own business was expensive. But we live in a different world now — a digital one. You’re connected on a global level. More ideas, resources, tools and options than ever before are at your fingertips for free. Barriers to starting a business are significantly lower.

But before you dive into a big entrepreneurial dream, check out these tips about what it takes to be your own boss.

You have to make your own opportunities. No one is going to give you permission to start on an idea, or hand you resources, clients and connections. As an entrepreneur, you are responsible for making things happen.

Becoming an entrepreneur is not an easy exercise. Overnight success is a myth. It takes a lot of hard work, intense dedication and strong belief in yourself to make your business take off. You must have a desire to create, to make a difference, to bring an idea to life. You must desire to take action, in whatever way you can.

Leave your fear of failure behind. Becoming an entrepreneur means you don’t give up easily. Throw away your fear of failure, uncertainty and rejection. They are positive learning opportunities.

All entrepreneurs fail, and way more than once. Those who succeed are not afraid of falling. They get back up every single time, looking at failures as a lesson learned. They pick themselves up, return to the scene and analyze what went wrong so that they’re more knowledgeable and prepared for the future than they were before.

Pay attention to the practical stuff. Getting fired up about your business ideas is an awesome start, but you have to channel that energy in a productive, intelligent and fruitful way. You need to plan, you need to validate your ideas, and you need to have practical systems in place.

Persistence gets you far on your journey through entrepreneurship, but it can’t take you all the way to success. Take the time to:

* Validate your ideas. Do some research, educate yourself about unfamiliar issues, and have a reality check with friends and family.

* Make a plan for your business but don’t make it too complicated. Plenty of tools exist to help you build a plan. For example, you can do this in one page.

* Define your target market. Find out who are most likely to buy your products or services. No matter what you’re doing, you can’t target everyone, and that’s OK.

* Think about the finances. Find out low-cost ways to start your work. The great thing about becoming an entrepreneur today is that most businesses can be bootstrapped, meaning started from scratch using no new resources. Having a home based business is easier and less expensive than ever.

* Practice the abundance mentality. There’s plenty for everyone. Don’t jealously guard everything. Give freely and enjoy providing value to others. Your competitors may be wonderful collaborators.

And don’t forget: just because you work for yourself doesn’t mean you’re completely alone. Join communities, groups and meet-ups for other entrepreneurs, freelancers or side hustlers. Having a support group of like-minded people keep you motivated and on track toward achieving your entrepreneurial goals.

Sophia Bera, CFP, is a fee-only financial planner that caters investors in their 20s and 30s. She has been in the financial planning industry since 2007 and is the founder of Gen Y Planning in Minneapolis.

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