As President Ramaphosa noted in a recent newsletter to the nation, young entrepreneurs are finding the “silver lining to the dark COVID-19 cloud”. Indeed, even at this dark hour for the world economy, opportunities abound for talented, hardworking young entrepreneurs that have the grit and passion to make a difference for themselves and their communities.
They are seizing the chance to create a livelihood for themselves and to make life better for those around them as they do. Whether you’re struggling to find a job after school or varsity due to the tough economic conditions or whether you have always dreamt of running your own business, here are a few ideas about finding inspiration in celebration of World Entrepreneurs’ Day on 21 August.
Start in your own community
Social entrepreneurship has become a buzz phrase over the past few years. The reason for this is that we’re seeing the rise of a new type of business owner: an innovator who wants to solve socio-economic challenges through his or her own business. From health to the digital divide to education, there is no shortage of problems to be solved, many of them in your own community.
Whether it’s delivering fresh produce to elderly people who can’t get out to shop during the pandemic, providing affordable tuition to coach matrics for their exams, or helping artisans or craftspeople to sell their products, there are many ways to run a business that makes profit and has a high social impact.
Familiarise yourself with the digital tools
In today’s connected world, understanding the true benefits of digital tools such as cloud computing that are available to you and using them wisely is the key to success. Learn where your customers go online, then master search and social media to attract leads and build an online community. Find out which cloud services are available to streamline and run your accounting, tax submissions and other elements of your business. This will help save time so you’re able to focus on sales, marketing and developing your value proposition.
Seek mentors and collaborators
When you’re starting out as a young entrepreneur, advice and inspiration from a mentor can be invaluable. Your mentor doesn’t necessarily need to be someone from the same industry or profession as you. They can simply be an experienced businessperson who knows the ropes of running a business. Your mentor can help you to avoid unnecessary mistakes and give you a sounding board for your ideas. In addition, a mentor might be able to connect you with potential clients, employees, partners or investors.
Know the industry trends and players
Stay on top of the latest trends and developments in the industry in which you plan to build a business. Follow social media accounts for major companies that operate in the sector, read relevant publications, and even think about completing courses and seminars that will refresh or update your knowledge.
Focus especially closely on local competitors to understand a potential role for your business. What are they doing right and wrong? Are there gaps in the market they have missed? This can help you keep ahead of the curve – perhaps you can even be first to market with the product or service people will be looking for in six months’ time.
Create your own future
Striking out on your own as a youth entrepreneur is not an easy path to follow, especially in these times, but it is a rewarding one. It’s an opportunity to define your own future. If you are committed to lifelong learning, ready to help solve people’s problems and willing to take risks, it might be just the right career option for you.