Business planning strategies for your 20s
Your 20s are an opportunity to take risks, strive for self-fulfilment and make your fortune with one simple business concept. Yeah, right!
For most people, and especially budding entrepreneurs, your 20s are times of coming up with a multitude of ideas but never getting any of them off the ground.
I’m not saying don’t strive for your dreams, but play the long game and learn from your experiences so that you can overcome obstacles in the future and have a better chance of succeeding with the right concept.
Here are some of strategies you should implement in your 20s:
Travel widely to find opportunities
Experience as many different countries and cultures while you are young. Use those experiences to develop your personal goals and objectives.
Think of the overseas business concepts that someone found while traveling and brought the idea back to their home country successfully.
Travel broadens the mind, develops contacts and breeds opportunity.
Try different work experiences and learn an industry
Look for businesses and a mentor in the sector you are drawn to, and learn what’s important to all its stakeholders.
These include the owners, the customers, the service providers and investors.
Learn from their experiences, their successes and failures.
Seek to be innovative, to identify gaps in the market you can exploit or spin-off services that no one has considered.
Build and maintain contacts
From the time you leave school or university you will encounter people in various walks of life who could be valuable contacts and resources when you are looking to build a business.
Cultivate relationships both online and offline.
Many people who I now refer my clients to have been contacts that I first met on Twitter or in LinkedIn groups and kept in touch with regularly.
Sharing articles and views on subjects of common interest via Twitter or LinkedIn groups are great ways of developing your persona and your interaction with contacts.
Don’t blow the budget setting up your first business
Until you have a steady sales record and positive cash flow coming in, don’t spend your valuable startup’s budget unless it’s absolutely necessary.
I started my business by borrowing a desk in an accountant’s office, and most of my stationery came from freebies at exhibitions and conferences.
I ran free educational seminars in an accountant’s boardroom with just coffee and tea for attendees.
The accountant got great feedback from his clients so he saw me as adding value to the business rather than as a cost.
When the GFC hit my income nearly halved, but because I had control of expenses I could take advantage of the turmoil to grow while others were sunk by overheads.
I learned early that every dollar invested in the business was another dollar that eventually had to be recouped from sales – so each dollar I spent had to add value.
Don’t put up a fake front
Many single-person startups refer to themselves as “we,” and it just isn’t necessary.
In this era of innovation there’s nothing wrong with a one-person business. It’s perfectly OK to refer to your business as an “I” when you’re the only one working in it.
In fact, personalised service businesses can be an attraction as customers know you are the one dealing with their needs.
As long as you price your products and services fairly for your level of skills and talents — and make sure you are available to clients — then you can hold your head up high as a single operator.
Outsourcing admin and bookkeeping, or using serviced offices with reception and mail handling can all help make the “we” unnecessary.
Focus on value creation
I often hear young people say the reason they want to start a business is just to make money.
They rarely survive long in self-employment.
For successful entrepreneurs, the business exists to provide some sort of value to both yourself and your customers.
The better you understand what value you’re striving to provide, the better you’ll be able to focus on customer needs.
The world doesn’t need more selling or more stuff.
But it always needs and wants genuine value creation, and that’s where you should direct your efforts.
Use the lack of financial and family commitments in your 20s to focus on gaining experience, experimenting with low cost ideas, nurturing lifetime contacts, building your own profile and finding your niche.
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