BIZTIPS - February 29, 2004

Biz Tips: “Too Young for Business? No Way, Dude"
February 29, 2004
By Art Hill

Generation X and Generation Y entrepreneurs are re-shaping our assumptions about business ownership and success.

Katie won a community college business plan contest and went on the turn a profit with her friends in designing, creating, and marketing her clothing products. At age 14, Austin couldn’t get a summer job, but he had a knack for buying garage sale merchandise low and selling it high on E-Bay. Working two hours a day, he earned enough to pay cash for his own car. See more on Katie, Austin, and others at our “Young Entrepreneurs” page.

Why should we support a young person’s interest in business ownership? A few weeks ago I mentioned that the last major economic recovery was led by small business job growth (Biz Tips 01/04/04). We all benefit economically when a young person’s business interest leads to success. Add the personal benefits - increased self-confidence, empowerment, and self-esteem – and you start to get the picture.

Young entrepreneurs face the same challenges as older business owners – scarce capital, unreliable workers, changing markets, advancing technology. But they also have special challenges. Some are not taken seriously because of their age; others face ridicule by family or friends, and very few can get traditional bank financing.

What can we do to support them? (1) Start with good information. Check the articles on our Web page – Internet sites, books, magazines, stories by and about other young entrepreneurs, tools for understanding business. (2) Practice micro-lending. A borrowed lawn mower can seed a business with a dozen customers and a part-time helper. (3) Support networking. A single baby sitter can’t be two places at once. A baby sitting club can call on trusted friends to cover multiple jobs.

Your support may not seem like much by normal business standards, but it sure matters to a young entrepreneur. It mattered to Bill Gates when he started programming – at age 13.

Content © 2004 East Oregonian