In Nigeria and most sub-Saharan Africa, while formal employment is still highly prized, government across the sub-region are eyeing the growing culture of entrepreneurship. These small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) dominate the private sector of the Nigerian economy, but often time, these young entrepreneurs complain of lack of access to fund as a major challenge to their business success.
However, research has shown that some of the world’s most famous and profitable businesses were started by students. Microsoft began in Bill Gates’ Harvard dorm room, Google got its start on the Stanford campus as the computer science project of doctoral students Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and thousands of other student companies thrive in every industry.
Even if you’re not aiming to be another Bill Gates - maybe you just want to earn some extra cash with a summer landscaping business - you’ll have to navigate some unique challenges as a young entrepreneur testing the business waters. Here are some success tips for young entrepreneurs.
Do what you love: All successful teen businesses have one factor in common: Their owners love what they do - so choose a small business idea that aligns with your interests, no matter what they are.
Know what you want: Are you willing to leave school if your business takes off? Or do you envision your business as a side project? Being able to answer questions like these will help you organise your time and priorities.
Be radical...: In your late teens and early 20s, your thinking is fresh, original and full of energy. Don’t be afraid to try something no one’s ever done, create an off-the-wall product or shake up an existing market by changing factors (such as a service or delivery model) that established companies take for granted.
... but follow the rules: Being a young entrepreneur doesn’t exempt you from registering your business, keeping records and paying taxes. Following these simple rules now will save you from legal and administrative headaches later.
Manage your time: Running a business while going to school is stressful and difficult. Understand what is required of you in your separate roles as a student and a business owner, and employ planning and organisational tools - for example, a well-maintained appointment book, Microsoft Outlook or an online time/project management system - to make the most of your time.
Use school resources: Being a student isn’t a handicap in business; on the contrary, it can be an advantage. Your campus offers free computers and Internet connectivity, a host of potential employees and/or volunteers and the expertise of professors who would be happy to share their knowledge and experience with you. You’re literally surrounded by people and resources, so make the most of your situation.