Though being a successful entrepreneur is rewarding, experienced business professionals like Anton Casey know that the world of entrepreneurship is characteristically filled with frequent obstacles and new challenges. Entrepreneurs must look forward to fully engaging their minds in even the smallest task in order to fully calculate the complete potential of each situation.
As young and inexperienced entrepreneurs will find, it can be difficult to anticipate some of these challenges as well as navigate the business world on their own. Often many will find that asking others, especially those with seniority and experience, is intimidating and frightening.
However, there are resources available and people ready to help. Casey, an entrepreneur with international experience as a fund manager and financial services professional, finds it not only a great opportunity to give back to the next generation in this way, but also very rewarding spending his leisure time helping young entrepreneurs succeed.
Rod Ebrahimi, entrepreneur and CEO of ReadyForZero, an online based assistant for managing and paying off debt, told Forbes that, as a young entrepreneur, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” He says inexperience makes it challenging to drive innovation and make decisions. Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, told Forbes, “one of the metaphors that I use for startups is you throw yourself off a cliff and assemble an airplane on the way down.”
Seasoned business professionals can step in and offer guidance to their younger colleagues. According to the United States Small Business Administration (SBA), entrepreneurs and startups are more likely to succeed with the help of an effective mentor or business coach. The SBA also says that having “an insider perspective” and having the chance to bounce ideas off of experiences entrepreneurs are invaluable opportunities to young business professionals.
Additionally, the SBA states that having a good mentor gives young people connections to vast amounts of industry contacts that they may not have otherwise. Having a personal relationship with an experienced mentor is a great way to develop your own network, meet new clients or partners, and strengthen your business. For example, as a professional with global contacts in places such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Switzerland, Anton Casey enjoys assisting his young colleagues in their efforts to create a network of their own.
Once an entrepreneur has made the decision to seek a mentor, going forward with the search can be intimidating as well. However, there are many things to consider in finding a good mentor. According to Entrepreneur.com, one of the first steps is knowing what kind of mentor you need to begin with. First determining where help is needed is one of the most important things an entrepreneur can do for himself or herself. The article suggests making a “wish list” with the kinds of skills and support a mentor should be able to offer before beginning the search.
Though some young professionals may have already developed some contacts they can seek out as mentors, others still struggle with taking the first step. There are many programs available to young entrepreneurs who are not sure of how to make these initial connections, or simply desire some feedback and guidance.
One such resource is Global Entrepreneurship Week. The event, which is taking place on November 17 – 23, 2014, is a large celebration of innovators and business professionals who come together to encourage each other, find inspiration, and build networks. This is a great opportunity for those just starting out to jump in and start developing those contacts.
Additionally, the SBA provides valuable options for young entrepreneurs on the search for mentors as well. The first is SCORE, a nonprofit organization consisting of a network of retired business personnel, leaders, and volunteers who are available to give free advice and guidance. According to the SBA website, SCORE provides how-to guides, tools, and online workshops.
The second option the SBA provides is its Small Business Development Centers, which are partnerships with the government that offer help to promising entrepreneurs. These centers, hosted by colleges and universities, give help in areas such as leadership, business plan development, market research, and many more.
According to research performed by the Office for National Statistics, the number of self-employed young people has risen by 71,000 since the beginning of the economic crisis, according to The Telegraph. With the emergence of so many young professionals starting their own businesses and pursuing their ideas, Martina Milburn, chief executive for the Prince’s Trust, says, “it is critical that we nurture young people’s passion for business and invest in the next generation.”
Thanks to people such as Milburn, Ebrahimi, and Anton Casey, young entrepreneurs can find the resources they need and feel confident in themselves and their businesses.