6 challenges faced by young entrepreneurs

Some of the world’s most famous companies weren’t created in a boardroom by a committee of seasoned professionals. Here are a few businesses that you probably know which were started by entrepreneurs under the age of 35:

  • IKEA
  • Facebook
  • Apple Computer
  • Google
  • Mrs. Fields
  • Motown Records

What great things can young entrepreneurs do?

Young people possess optimism, endless energy, and fresh ideas. Because they’re not as set in their ways as older people can be, they’re often more willing to try new things, and can bounce back quickly from mistakes they may make. These qualities, coupled with their ability to quickly adapt to new technologies, make them natural leaders in the ever-developing small business climate.

What challenges can young entrepreneurs face?

Many young entrepreneurs don’t consider their youth a hindrance – they’re eagerly working on building their business and taking steps towards their dreams. We commend that passion, but the fact is that younger entrepreneurs do face some unique challenges in the world of small business, including:

  • Conflicts with high school, college, or university education
  • Lack of support from family
  • Reduced start-up capital
  • Lack of specific business skills
  • Less experience in leadership and management
  • Clients or suppliers who see the entrepreneur as a “kid,” and who may take advantage of youth or perceived inexperience

How can younger entrepreneurs overcome challenges?

At GoForth Institute, we believe strongly in the importance of small business education and supporting entrepreneurs of all ages. Knowledge is power! We advise younger entrepreneurs to seek out a trusted mentor, whether it’s in the field you want to enter, or just an experienced person who you trust to point you in the right direction.

We also strongly advise younger entrepreneurs to even the odds by knowing your business inside and out. Create a business model and vision statement, and be able to show clear leadership, organization and ownership of your business. To take it a step further, why not try answering the 6 common questions investors ask in a pitch? Even if you’re not seeking investment, they’re valuable, foundational things to know.

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Small business blog posts we liked this week

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Happy May! We can’t believe how quickly the year is flying by. We hope you can take some time to slow down and unwind this weekend – check out some of these small business blog posts and articles we liked this week!

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Cons of Entrepreneurship

cons of entrepreneurship

Last week, we shared some of the pros of entrepreneurship. Today, we have to bring you back down to earth a little. Let’s share some of the cons of entrepreneurship.

Con of Entrepreneurship #1: A Heavy Workload and Long Hours

Since entrepreneurs wear many hats in their small business, that can mean a heavy workload and longer hours than a traditional employee. Depending on your organizational and time management skills, these business-related tasks can sometimes lead to less personal time for family, or fewer vacations. If you don’t have enough employees to handle day-to-day operations of the business, it can be difficult to arrange time for vacations, sick leave, or maternity leave.

Con of Entrepreneurship #2: Isolation

If you work alone as an entrepreneur, you are free from workplace gossip or hierarchy — but it can also mean a feeling of isolation. When you don’t have other employees or colleagues, the work day can consist of sitting behind a desk or computer screen for many hours without any social contact. Without short chats at the office coffeemaker you may feel secluded and lonely. Many of us experienced this for the first time during the pandemic, but it’s a concern for many entrepreneurs even in regular times.

Con of Entrepreneurship #3: An Unpredictable Income and Potential for Loss

Being an entrepreneur means taking a huge leap of faith: giving up a steady income. Running your own business, especially in the early start-up stages, can mean that your income becomes unpredictable and unreliable. This can make things difficult when trying to plan for the future or saving for a big purchase. You may need to take a raincheque on that Ferrari.

Con of Entrepreneurship #4: Loss of Structure

Moving away from an organization to begin your own business also involves moving away from an organized and hierarchical structure. Although this may seem appealing to some, it can create confusion and disorganization particularly in the initial stages when things are still unfamiliar. Many entrepreneurs realize that there’s a learning curve when figuring out how certain high-level elements work, things that someone else used to handle in their old employee jobs.

Con of Entrepreneurship #5: Discipline, Self-direction and Risk-taking

You may love not having a supervisor present to make sure you’re doing everything properly and meeting deadlines. But without this, good self-discipline and focus is all the more important. It’s all on you to keep yourself on track and making important, often time-based decisions.

Con of Entrepreneurship #6: Paperwork and Administrative Duties

Moving away from an organization to start your own business may also mean losing your administrative support, your accountant and your financial analyst. If you’re running a carpentry business, there’s more to think about than crafting a perfect chair. You also have to deal with billing, invoices, orders, suppliers and other clerical and administrative duties. Without experience in this field, these tasks can be daunting and are often put off, to the detriment of the business.

Con of Entrepreneurship #7: Stress and Pressure to Succeed

Because your reputation and your income are on the line, the pressure to make your business a success can be incredibly intense. Stress management skills are very important when dealing with hurdles and roadblocks, small and large. Look for resources to help you cope so you don’t burn out.

Con of Entrepreneurship #8: Responsibility and Accountability

The feeling of accountability for your small business can be intensely rewarding, but it also comes with risk. With your name behind the business, your personal reputation is on the line. Always. You are the public face of your business and everything you say or do can have an effect no matter how small or seemingly harmless.

As you can see, entrepreneurship does have its difficult moments and tough considerations. But don’t fret! Small business education goes a long way in preparing you to deal with all aspects of entrepreneurship.

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Pros of Entrepreneurship

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Entrepreneurship is an appealing career choice for many, with several pros and cons. Today, let’s review the pros of entrepreneurship – tell us which one appeals to you the most!

Pro of Entrepreneurship #1: Variety in Your Work Routine

As a small business owner, you’ll face a lot of responsibilities, ranging from ordering supplies to accounting and bookkeeping to social media marketing. Depending on your business, you can even take on varied projects. For example, photographers can also offer photo retouching services as well. This is especially tempting for people who enjoy diversity and get tired of concentrating on specific and repetitive tasks.

Pro of Entrepreneurship #2: Technological Advances

Changes in technology have created opportunities for rural and Indigenous entrepreneurs to create a place of employment where they live, rather than having to move into urban centres to create job or business opportunities. Win-win!

Pro of Entrepreneurship #3: Flexible Work Hours

With entrepreneurship, you can often set your work hours to best fit your lifestyle. For example, you can work around rush hour, starting at 10:00am and finishing the day at 6:00pm. Also, schedules can be arranged around things like appointments, children’s school hours, and personal responsibilities.

Pro of Entrepreneurship #4: No Dress Code

If you don’t have to be present at a physical business location or meet with customers or clients, you can dress however you like! The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced many people to the joys of working in comfy clothes. Just remember to change if you have a video call – at least from the waist up!

Pro of Entrepreneurship #5: More Tax Deductions

There are a series of tax deductions you may qualify for. As a rule, any reasonable current expense you have paid or will have to pay to earn business income can be deducted from business income. Employment-related expenses like home office expenses, travel and professional development costs can be deducted. An accountant can tell you exactly what you need to know. Don’t be afraid to invest money in your business — some of it may come back to you at tax time!

Pro of Entrepreneurship #6: Job Security

It might sound weird at first, but being self-employed or running your own small business brings a certain level of job security. After all, you make the rules! There’s no risk of being fired, laid off, demoted or having your hours cut. You no longer have to be concerned about the direction your boss is taking with the company and how it could affect you, because you are the boss. Cool!

Pro of Entrepreneurship #7: Choose Your Employees

As an employee, you meet people who you wish you didn’t have to work with. But as the boss, you have the power to choose employees or partners who best fit with your business’ goals and your own personality. This can lead to enriching business relationships — and you get to create them.

Pro of Entrepreneurship #8: Personal Achievement, Recognition and Growth

Unlike positions with large corporations, the successes and accomplishments of your small business have your name directly behind them. Your hard work is recognized and you get to keep all the credit for it. And with all the things you’re responsible for, you can also learn and grow as a person while discovering your own strengths and weaknesses. This is the main reason small business ownership can be so rewarding.

Pro of Entrepreneurship #9: A Direct Impact on the Company’s Success or Failure

With entrepreneurship, a job well done seems that much sweeter. Sometimes your daily tasks as an employee may seem unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but in your own company, you can see the purpose and results of your work. Your own actions have a direct influence on your business.

Pro of Entrepreneurship #10: Make the Rules Rather Than Follow Someone Else’s

Being bossed around and told what to do is never something that anyone likes. But when you’re running your own company, you get to write the rulebook and decide how things are going to go for you. You can adjust anything you like, whether it be hours worked, rates charged or even what kind of work you do.

Next week: A little reality check with the cons of entrepreneurship (fear not, we’ll help make it painless)!

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Tips for getting started in social entrepreneurship

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How can you make an impact in the world with social entrepreneurship?

It begins with understanding yourself and the social needs around you. People often wonder where to apply their energy. They want to know whether to become a social entrepreneur or just join an organization, or what issues to focus on. Finding the answers to these questions depends on personal considerations that are different for each person: What do you care deeply about? What situations bring out your natural gifts? Are you comfortable with uncertainty? Do you have a strong need for independence? 

Thanks to the many roles opening up in the field, there’s probably a role to fit your temperament. Fewer than 10% of Canadian workers are self-employed. Most people prefer to work in established structures, but that doesn’t mean they have to accept those structures as they are. Many promote change from within businesses and public institutions. 

How to get started in social entrepreneurship

Some thoughts on how to get started in social entrepreneurship, adapted from David Bornstein and Susan Davis’ Social Entrepreneurship: What You Need to Know. 

  1. Begin with an end in mind. 
  2. Do what you do best. 
  3. Have people ask you questions about your idea. 
  4. Practice pitching your idea. 
  5. Study the history of the problem you are attacking. 
  6. Develop a theory of change. 
  7. Keep thinking about how you can measure or evaluate success. 
  8. Celebrate every victory, no matter how small. 
  9. Initiate new relationships. 
  10. Apprentice yourself with masters (work without pay if necessary). 
  11. Volunteer for a political or social campaign. 
  12. Publish a letter to the editor or an opinion editorial (op-ed). 
  13. Meet with a newspaper editor and your local MLA/MPP/MNA/MHA. 
  14. Host dinner discussions about your idea. 
  15. Form a group to achieve a modest, short-term goal. 
  16. Ask a question at a public forum. 
  17. Engage people with opposing political views (respectfully, of course). 
  18. Ask for advice from people you admire. 
  19. Read biographies of people who have built things. 
  20. Spend some time working in a different sector, field or country. 
  21. Practice public speaking. 
  22. Take a finance course. 
  23. Learn how to negotiate. 
  24. Find sources of inspiration and use them. 
  25. Hold to principles, be flexible about methods. 
  26. Learn about trends in shifting mindsets. 

At GoForth, we’ve combined our love of entrepreneurship and our love of people to create several “close to the heart” social entrepreneurship projects. We’ve witnessed firsthand the power and joy of social change and raising others up. To us, social entrepreneurship is legacy work, making positive change in the lives of others.

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