How to Become An Entrepreneur
Successful businessman Richard Walton got started when he was 21, and now he has some useful and inspiring tips for young people on how to become an entrepreneur.
I founded my first business, GVI, at the age of 21 from a remote island off Honduras. At that time, there was very little information available to entrepreneurs. In fact, I’m not sure if I even knew that’s what I was becoming. I now own four successful global enterprises, and retrospect has taught me a few valuable lessons. If you’re interested in starting any kind of business, big or small, here’s what you need to know as a young entrepreneur:
- Your age really doesn’t matter
I once bought a pair of prescription glasses on the side of the road before going into a business meeting to make myself look more mature. They were so strong that I could barely see. Don’t be insecure about your youth. It’s your passion and enthusiasm that will impress.
- There are so many training opportunities available, and they’re free
Signing up to a start-up programme is a great way to cut corners and meet other young entrepreneurs. I am the co-founder of an EU-funded start-up incubator in the UK called Corkscrew, which provides free support and advice to young people who are keen to start a small business but aren’t really sure where to begin.
There are plenty of similar organisations round the world which are easy to sign up to and will help you get an internship within a company or provide you with an experienced business mentor or a platform from which to discuss your ideas and brainstorm.
- Lifeskills are sometimes more important than academic education
When I’m hiring new employees, I’m always more interested in their personality and practical experience than their grades. This doesn’t necessarily mean business experience, but rather anything that demonstrates the individual’s leadership skills and ability to work in a team. These are especially important characteristics for a future entrepreneur, so get as much practise as you can; volunteer your skills abroad, organise a local event, set up a sports society, etc.
- Read, listen and participate
People love to help. They’re not all out to steal your ideas. Don’t be afraid to ask more experienced entrepreneurs for their advice. It can be really inspiring to hear other people’s stories and it could save you a lot of time and effort. Read as much as you can too: books, blogs, magazines, newspapers.
Fill your head with as much information as you can and don’t be shy to participate on forums or join business groups. Most of your friends probably won’t have a clue what you’re doing now, so surround yourself with people who do. That’s where the most exciting collaborations come from.
- When you’ve got a good idea, start immediately
It doesn’t matter how you do it or where, just get going. Whether that’s creating a free website, doing market research or selling a product on your street corner, the best way to test out an idea, and more importantly, your enthusiasm for it is to put it into practise. Be fearless and ambitious. What do you have to lose?
Submitted by Richard Walton, the founder and managing director of AVirtual, which provides virtual personal assistants to entrepreneurs, executives and other professionals. Prior to AVirtual, Walton founded Global Vision International (GVI), which he grew to a 250-strong social enterprise operating in more than 40 countries.
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