Leaving training or graduating from college or university can be a daunting time for a young person.
You are faced with big decisions which will shape the rest of your career, these are often decisions you are not ready for.
Ten years ago at the height of economic growth there was an abundance of opportunities for young people, whether it be learning a trade or going into finance or industry.
Today it is somewhat different, we are coming out of the back of the most difficult economic conditions in living memory, growth continues to be sluggish and we continue to hear that the pain will remain for the foreseeable future.
It is no secret that young people have been hit hardest by the recession – there are fewer college and university places and employment opportunities for school leavers, and a good degree doesn’t guarantee a professional job any more.
Many graduates are finding themselves doing part time jobs, volunteer work or unpaid work experience – I sense their frustration as they look for that opportunity to get on the career ladder.
And yet there is another option; you could start a business. It’s not just experienced business people who choose this option, many young people are doing it too. Business creation will fuel our economic recovery and in every downturn there is opportunity; it is just about identifying a good idea and taking it to the market place.
It is true that launching a new business can be a daunting prospect for any person, not just the young, but the rewards and opportunity to be your own boss are very exciting.
So how do you do it?
As I said, first you need a good idea – and you don’t always need to think outside the box on this one. It is likely that someone will have thought about your first idea, or even your third or fourth one. However most people don’t do anything with their idea, assuming that ‘someone else will do it’. So why shouldn’t you be that ‘someone else’, who can make it happen, or maybe just be the person that does it better than the others.
How do you know if your idea is a good one? Don’t be clouded by your own judgement and the fact that your friends and family will tell you what you want to hear.
First you need to do some market research; if there is a demand then it is up to you to bring your idea to life. Market research needn’t be hard; you could just go to your local shopping centre and talk to people about whether they would buy your product or use your service. It’s also easy (and free) to set up a simple on-line survey or to reach people via Twitter and Facebook.
Funding can be a challenge; it can be hard to get a bank loan, for instance, especially if you are young. However if you are creative there are plenty of ways to get started with very little money. You may be able to trade skills with someone, do a little job for them in return for them doing something for you. Also, you’d be amazed how much help people will give you if you just ask. You might be able to negotiate delayed payment for goods supplied, for instance, or someone might give you access to an empty or underused space you can use. Crowd funding can also be an option too, especially if you need to buy tools to make a product. Never give away part of your business however. It may not be worth too much just now, but it will be in the future, and investors won’t invest in a business that has given away too many shares. Look to engage with business support services for young people, which will expose you to grant funding as well as business mentors who can provide invaluable guidance in helping you launch and grow your business.
It is also worth entering enterprise competitions like the Young Innovators Challenge, which will offer vital seed funding as well as practical guidance and support.
It is then all about hard work – you don’t need to work full time on your business in the beginning, especially if you are still studying, but when you are ready to launch your business, you need to spend every hour you can to make it work. But any entrepreneur will tell you that if it’s your own business, it doesn’t seem like work!
So come on, what are you waiting for, the world is your oyster – be your own boss.