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Gen Z is one of the most entrepreneurial generations in history. More than half of Generation Zers who participated in a recent EY study said they hope to own their own business in the next 10 years. However, as any seasoned entrepreneur knows, there are significant risks involved in starting your own business – especially for those who are investing their own savings, borrowing, or raising capital by selling equity.
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I spoke to three seasoned entrepreneurs – Javier Saade, a former official in the Small Business Administration; Beatriz Acevedo, CEO and Co-Founder of Suma Wealth, a wealth-building digital platform for the Latinx community; and Jenny Poon, the founder of the co-working space CO + HOOTS and the entrepreneurial resource platform HUUB. Here’s her advice to young entrepreneurs willing to be their own boss:
1. Make the most of the time you have. You are young and free and unencumbered, so spend your extra time wisely. Invest in yourself, get a part-time job, explore opportunities, say “yes” to difficult things so that you can see the world differently and apply what you learn.
2. Keep an ideas booklet. Every time you see a problem that bothers you, write it down. Write down why you are bothered by what you would do to solve the problem. If putting wet laundry in the dryer is annoying, what’s the solution? Is there a washer / dryer-in-one solution? If not, why then? If it exists, why isn’t it everywhere in every household?
3. Network. Talk to people who have done what you want to do (but are mostly listening).
4th Get smart. Keep learning, researching, and researching. You need to be overly prepared, especially if you are not a household name, proven founder, or someone with a referral.
5. Write a business plan. Get your concept down on paper and refine it non-stop.
6th Talk about your idea. Don’t be afraid of judgments. Feedback is necessary and important. Your idea will change many times before it gets stuck. Talk about it and get feedback from potential customers before investing too much in your original idea.
7th Be proud of who you are. Lean hard into your differences because this will set you apart from everyone else. Do you know what your superpower is.
8th. Be resilient. Every day will be a very different path than you imagined. Be okay with change, be okay with panning, and be okay with falling and getting up quickly.
And remember: it won’t be easy.
“It’s hard to build the courage to continue on a journey, and entrepreneurship is hard. It gets overly glorified and you have to be willing to invest the time, energy, and work chasing an idea and testing your assumptions, ”Poon said. “Don’t give up too quickly when the going gets tough.”
CNBC’s “College Voices” is a series written by CNBC interns from universities across the country about getting their college education, managing their own money, and starting their careers during these extraordinary times. Ryan Waterman Aldana is a talent development intern at CNBC in the summer of 2021. He recently completed his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from James Madison University. The series is edited by Cindy Perman.