The Mint Grad

Start your entrepreneurial engine

Group of young professionals.

What do Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Alexa Von Tobel and Steve Jobs have in common? They each took a unique idea and turned it into a successful business venture at a young age. Their stories prove that if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, determination (and know a thing or two about managing money) anything is possible.

Being an entrepreneur means paving a road no one else has traveled on. There are no rules, but there are guidelines to consider when exploring a new business opportunity.

Differentiate.

To make your business stand out, you need to do something no one else does, or at least do it differently. Check out this article from entrepreneur.com to see how one college student revolutionized the coat check business. Need some inspiration? Check out springwise.com or thinkofthat.net for your daily dose of innovation and business ideas. If you’d prefer to exercise your creative muscle within a tried-and-true business model, consider companies like Northwestern Mutual for financial careers.

Have a plan.

It’s true that success as an entrepreneur often requires a serendipitous, act-fast-on-the-opportunity mindset, but it also takes discipline. Watch The Social Network to learn how Facebook came to life. You’ll find that business planning typically requires making projections three to five years down the road and outlining the route you’ll take to reach your goals (although that doesn’t mean you won’t be able make changes along the way). Whether you’re planning to take out a loan from the bank or using crowd-funding like Kickstarter, you’ll need a plan to convince others to get on board and help make your vision a reality.

Leverage your strengths and get help for the rest.

Can your business benefit from your expertise in Tumblr or Pinterest? If so, make it work for you. If social media isn’t your forte, call on your connections. You know your vision, product or service better than anyone else, but there are bankers, accountants, financial professionals and marketing professionals who can make a real difference in your ability to succeed.

Be courageous.

While no one inherently sets out to fail, everyone does at some point in their lives. Don’t be afraid of failure or let it deter you from taking calculated risks. There are countless stories of how failures made entrepreneurs millions by forcing them to go in a different direction or try something new.

Budget, budget, budget.

It may sound tedious, but it’s essential. If you don’t already have a personal budget, it’s a good idea to create one. You’ll need one for your business, too. Personal budgets usually include categories like housing, utilities, transportation, insurance, food and entertainment, loans and legal obligations, charitable contributions and miscellaneous expenses. While business expenses include many of the same items, you’ll want to keep your budgets separate, especially when it comes to accounting for possible tax deductions and keeping track of your income.

Protect against risks.

Self-employed business owners have unique needs for protecting themselves and their loved ones from risks to their health, income and assets, as well as ensuring their obligations can be met in the event of something unexpected. Read more on risks that may pertain to you here.

Remember cash is king.

You can’t have a business without money to fund it. Stay vigilant to keep debt from disrupting your plan and avoid credit card debt whenever possible. Additionally, determine a policy for how to pay yourself. You’ll need a dependable cash flow to keep your business running.

For more information on starting and managing a business, visit the U.S. Small Business Administration website.

 


Are you an entrepreneur with a story to tell?

Share it! Have you started a business or invented something new? Do you have experience working at a start-up company? Are there tips about being an entrepreneur that others could benefit from? Let us know!