Gen Z is one of the most entrepreneurial generations in history. More than half of Gen Zers who participated in a recent EY study said they hoped to own their own business in the next 10 years. However, as every seasoned entrepreneur knows, starting your own company comes with significant risk ̶ especially for those who invest their own savings, take on debt, or raise capital by selling equity.
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I spoke with three experienced entrepreneurs — Javier Saade, a former Small Business Administration official; Beatriz Acevedo, the CEO and co-founder of Suma Wealth, a wealth-building digital platform for the Latinx Community; and Jenny Poon, the founder of co-working space CO+HOOTS and entrepreneur resource platform HUUB. Here is their advice to young entrepreneurs who are ready to be their own boss:
1. Leverage the time you have. You are young and free and unburdened, so spend your extra time wisely. Invest in yourself, take up an extra job, explore opportunities, say “yes” to hard things so you can see the world differently and apply your learnings.
2. Keep an idea notebook. Anytime you see a problem that annoys you, write it down. Write down why it bothers you, what you would do to solve the problem. If it’s annoying to move wet laundry to the dryer, then what is the solution? Does a washer/dryer-in-one solution exist? If not, then why? If it does exist, why isn’t it universally in all homes?
3. Network. Talk to people who have done what you want to do (but mostly listen to them).
4. Get smart. Learn, research and research some more. You need to be overly prepared, especially if you are not a known name, proven founder, or somebody that comes with a recommendation.
5. Write a business plan. Put your concept on paper and refine it nonstop.
6. Talk about your idea. Don’t be afraid of judgment. Feedback is necessary and important. Your idea will change many times before it sticks. Talk about it and get feedback from potential customers before getting too invested in your original idea.
7. Be proud of who you are. Lean hard into your differences, because that’s what’s going to make you stand out from everyone else. Know what your superpower is.
8. Be resilient. Every day will be a very different road than what you envisioned. Be OK with change, be OK with pivoting, and be OK with falling down and getting back up quickly.
And remember: It’s not going to be easy.
“Building the grit to continue a journey is hard, and entrepreneurship is hard. It’s overly glorified, and you need to be ready to put in the time, energy, and work to chase an idea and test your assumptions,” Poon said. “Don’t give up too quickly when things get hard.”
CNBC’s “College Voices″ is a series written by CNBC interns from universities across the country about getting their college education, managing their own money and launching their careers during these extraordinary times. Ryan Waterman Aldana is a summer 2021 talent development intern at CNBC. He recently graduated summa cum laude with his bachelor’s degree from James Madison University. The series is edited by Cindy Perman.