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Best way to get started in entrepreneurship and business?

I am a 16 year old sophomore in high school looking to get started in entrepreneurship and building businesses to help improve and add value to the quality of people's lives. The thing I hear the most from many big business moguls is "Just get started! Don't worry about perfection, just do it!" I think this is great advice though what I would like to know is what area should I begin in? Sales? Any thoughts would be much appreciated, thank you. #business #entrepreneurship

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Marc’s Answer

That is good advice and I would echo the just get started advice. You're going to make mistakes and figure things out, so don't be afraid of that; embrace it! Your first business probably won't be your last one, just like very few people marry the first person they ever go out on a date with.

If you start any business, you're always going to be in "Sales" in some manner. You're either selling your idea, service or product, so just expect that you'll be engaged in sales for a while. Don't let that intimidate you because sales is simply telling a story and communicating the value of what it is you're offering to the intended audience. A question you'll hear a lot in business as you pitch ideas is "What pain or problem are you solving?"

This ties into the other piece of startup advice is do something where you feel good about the problem you're solving. Solving a problem can be something small like making an everyday task easier or a better way to use something we already use every day, or it can be something larger.

As you launch, keep trying and don't be afraid to pivot or in some cases to start over; you'll only know of something works by trying. Also, keep asking questions of your intended customers and of mentors.

Once you think you've found the product / service and the audienece, FOCUS! It's easy to get distracted, especially by others with a thousand ideas. Don't tune them all out, but keep your focus and trust your gut.

Thank you comment icon Thank you very much! This is possibly some of the best advice I have had in a while. Gary Vaynerchuck of Vayner media and Wine Library also talks about how you have to just start whether the product is good or bad. Sales Is something that I have been reading on and practicing veraciously. My product that I am currently working on is in self development and is currently taking the form of a book but may also manifest in different forms as well like one on one coaching in the way Anthony Robbins does.Though I would also like to sell other products that improves the quality of peoples lives. You being a serial entrepreneur yourself, after successfully building one business it would then be practical to move into building other business as well correct? Korede
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Kevin’s Answer

Since you are still in high school, you can support your choir, you're marching band, your sports team, or some other group by doing a fundraiser.

When I was 16, I held a dance at my high school that raised money for UNICEF during Halloween. I got some of the best guys in town to put together a special band, we charged $5.00 at the door (it was 1972)! And we made $500.

The best part, besides doing something for somebody else, is that this is a project with a beginning, a middle, and an end. You get in, you get out. You're done. See?

The dance/fund-raiser is your product. You're the "owner" who "hires" a team to:
1.) Organize
2.) Promote
3.) Sell tickets
4.) Act as the liaison with the charity you pick (or school group)

It's not some long-term project that has the potential to become a real hassle.

Just "wet your toes," and see if you like the business experience, and then take it from there.

Good Luck!

Thank you comment icon Thank you, this is a very good idea, I will give it a shot. Korede
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Jill’s Answer

Glad to hear you say that you are looking to "add value to the quality of people's lives." Do you have a business idea or are you looking for inspiration? To be an entrepreneur, you need to have passion about what you are doing and you need to solve a problem. Take time to understand your target audience and their needs - this is key. As a high school student, there are many ways to further your education in entrepreneurship, and social entrepreneurship (businesses for solving the world's biggest problems). Here are few recommendations about where to start:

Join or start a DECA club at your school

Check out MetoWe and
Free the Children

I personally think doing speech and debate or journalism are great foundations for entrepreneurs. Stay on the cutting edge of technology - try 3d printing if you can or take interesting classes to spark innovative ideas through community college or attending meetups, conferences, etc.

Get an internship with a startup - you can learn massive amounts by just being around a startup.!%7B%22types%22%3A%5B%22internship%22%5D%7D
Even if they don't have a job opening, you can offer to do competitive landscape research or help summarize what people are saying about an issue on social media...

Avail yourself of free awesome online tools - do this now!
IDEO human centered design kit:
Business plan templates:

Take classes:
IDEO human centered design kit and classes: (costs money)
Khan Academy videos...

Get hands on and build or join a team to solve a problem:
IDEO Challenge
HeroX Challenge

Enter innovation or entrepreneurship competitions to vet your business plan, get mentoring, and maybe startup funds
Biz Plan Competitions list

Look ahead to colleges with great programs...
Skoll Centre at Oxford
CASE at Duke

or not college ... Draper University for gap year...

Thank you comment icon Obviously, I am a champion for social entrepreneurship - Here's why: "When VCs and others imagine that the biggest markets and largest profit pools ... they’re not thinking big enough. The industries that need investment are the ones where chronic underinvestment has resulted in serious social problems. Transportation, education, finance, healthcare...You profit the most by making the world a little bit better. If you really want to be tomorrow’s billionaire, forget the trivial, meaningless... Go and change the world as it needs desperately to be changed." So think big and good luck. Remember the most successful entrepreneurs have tried, failed, and tried again. (they have failed more than others have tried). Jill Finlayson
Thank you comment icon Thank you very much, you have helped me understand what form of entrepreneurship I am partaking in. Social entrepreneurship is something that is very important to me, these links will be very helpful in getting me started. Korede
Thank you comment icon Jill, A fantastic slant on your answers, and I couldn't agree more. I've been trying to find ways to invest "green" for years, for example, and for a long time, there wasn't even a mutual fund one could buy. Jill, if you have and links or knowledge concerning investing in green companies, please do let me know. Of all the social ills you mentioned, I have devoted my life to the environment as best I can, and I even grow a bit of my own food...thanks again for your great answers to this young person's questions! Cheers! Kevin Kevin McCluskey