Why Student Entrepreneurs Are Ahead of Their Peers, Win or Lose
Student entrepreneurs like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg are generally exceptions to the rule. Few who venture into the business world before they’ve even completed college, or in some cases high school, typically don’t become billionaires. However, it is still in their best interests to pursue a business idea even if it creates a heavier work load or gets in the way of social activities, sports, and other extracurriculars.
The window of time where you can “just be a kid” is narrowing and by the time you enter your junior year of high school, you need to be thinking about what you love to do and how it could translate into a future career. Increasingly, the job market is a global one, and you have young people from many other industrialized nations with whom you will be competing. That’s where student entrepreneurs, win or lose, can teach you how to succeed.
Let’s look at the specifics.
1. Student entrepreneurs are learning how to grow the pie.
It is a narrow-sighted view of the world to assume that we are a place of limited resources, and that with a growing population, that means everything will grow scarcer. More than 100 years of economic innovation destroys that age-old theory. Of course, the scarcity mindset can become a self-fulfilling prophecy if one just waits around to be taken care of; but if, like many student entrepreneurs, you take it upon yourself to find a better way of doing things, you will find that the “pie” grows to include a slice for everyone. The key is to get away from the scarcity motivation, and by starting your own business young — succeed or fail — you will see exactly how that occurs in reality.
Before moving onto the next point, let me give you a personal example. As recently as the 1990s, there were a limited number of places to work as a freelance writer. Publishers were relatively few compared to what there is now, but there were just as many people trying to get published. Fast forward to 2009, and through a little thing called “blogging,” I was able to build a full-time business by writing for websites on a thing called the Internet that didn’t even exist when I was in junior high.
2. Student entrepreneurs know how to move away from ‘knowledge’ and embrace ‘application.’
The world of today and tomorrow will be skills-based. Employers will care less about what you know, and they will care more about how you can apply whatever your strengths are to help their business in real, quantifiable results. Once again, student entrepreneurs are at an advantage here because they have to deal with things like resources and overhead, finding a market, developing a plan to convince prospects, and pricing their products/services right so they earn a profit that will propel the business forward.
That’s 100 percent application.
You don’t just sit around patting yourself on the back for what you know. You employ it in your life and business in order to attain a desired goal. And once you attain that goal, you get results — results that can be replicated and improved for future growth.
That’s an ability that will serve you well whether you choose to continue on with your own business or enter the employer-employee relationship.
3. Student entrepreneurs are able to learn from mistakes.
Student entrepreneurs don’t look at mistakes as brick walls; they see instead detour signs that point the way back to the correct pathway. When you are in charge of developing a business idea and getting it out to market, so that it either succeeds or fails on its own merit, you learn real quickly that survival means being able to learn from mistakes.
Just using a generic scenario, let’s say that you have a budget of $100 to create and market a product that costs 50 cents to produce. Let’s say that you slap a $1.50 price tag on it and produce 50 units. That comes to a total of $25 for production, leaving you with $75 to spend on advertising. You dump all of that money into a Facebook ad campaign that ends with 70 percent of inventory sold. That works out to 35 units times $1.50, which equals $52.50. But remember, you started with $100 and spent all of that money producing and marketing the product. That means your business venture lost $47.50. You won’t stay in business very long that way!
By analyzing the error, you might think of a number of ways to correct your mistake. You could raise the price to $5 a unit. Selling the same amount would result in $175 (or a $75 profit). If it dropped you from 70 percent sold to 50 percent sold, then you would still walk away with a $25 profit on $100 spent. These are the types of decisions that student entrepreneurs get to make, and the situations are excellent at developing critical thinking skills, even if the business itself fails.
As you consider your future, consider joining the ranks of your fellow student entrepreneurs. You may never be a business owner in life, but simply rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty will prepare you for the challenges of a global job market. Good luck as you consider your next steps!
[Image via Patch]