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Can’t Find a Job? Make One!

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Can’t find a job? Welcome to 2010. At the end of 2009, unemployment for 20-24 year olds stood at 16% , which was 50% more than the overall unemployment rate.

If you’re one of the many young people who is currently unemployed (or you’re serving frappucinos for a living) you have three options right now: be one of the fortunate few to land reasonable employment, live at home, or start your own business.

I know what you’re thinking. “Start your own business? Doesn’t that take money and experience?” Not necessarily. While I don’t recommend starting a biotech company in your basement, if you have a skill that other people will pay money for then you should considering striking off on your own. I did 8 years ago, and I’ve never looked back.

It was 2002, and I was spending my summers as a golf caddy. Somewhere between being sworn at by angry men and narrowly avoiding being hit by errant golf balls, I came to the realization that caddying wasn’t something I wanted to devote my life to. However, as a 15-year-old with my eyes on a car,  I needed to make money – and my career options were limited.

Around this same point in time, I realized that selling items on eBay was a lot easier than it looked. Seeing an opportunity to go into business for myself, I asked my family and friends if they had any things that I could sell for them on eBay. I established One Step Auction, and within a year I became an eBay PowerSeller and made more money on one transaction than I did over an entire summer of hot, sweaty labor.

The best part? Anyone can do this. What I did wasn’t rocket science, nor did it require any upfront investment. I simply realized that I had a skill people would pay for, got the word out, and put in a few extra hours to promote it and do good work. It wasn’t an idea that I could sell for millions, but it provided me with a good income when I needed it.

So if you’re looking for a way to make money and have fun, check out my 5 tips for being a young entrepreneur:

Here are 5 tips for aspiring student entrepreneurs:

  • Looking for an idea? Think like a customer. People say that business is 10% idea and 90% execution, which might technically be true, but the fact is that you need a viable idea to start a business. Notice I didn’t say ‘brilliant’, because there are very few truly brilliant ideas left. What you need is an idea that you can execute, and that will make money. If you aren’t able to think of anything at first, think like a customer: what problems do your friends have that you could solve? What would you pay for someone to do for you? What service do you like that isn’t available in your area?
  • Don’t be afraid to start. It’s true that 50% of small businesses fail, but that also means that 50% of small businesses succeed. Can you say that about job interviews?
  • Brace for difficulties. While you shouldn’t be afraid to jump into entrepreneurship, you should be ready to deal with a lot of difficult experiences. You’ll have to deal with cranky customers, unexpected expenses, and potentially problematic employees. Worst of all, there won’t be a boss to tell you how to handle these things. Don’t let this scare you away, but be ready for it, and look at these things as part of the journey.
  • Check out resources. Instead of looking at your age as a negative for entrepreneurship, think of it as a positive. Your energy and drive will impress older businesspeople, and there are a lot of resources especially for young entrepreneurs. Check out the resources at Entrepreneur U, the articles on Teen Entrepreneur, or the McKelvey Foundation’s $40,000 scholarship for entrepreneurs.
  • Network, network, network. You’ve heard many times that “there’s no magic recipe for success”, and that “success is about who you know”. They’re both true. Everything that has worked out for me in business – from my first commission with One Step Auction to my writing gigs for personal finance sites  – has been a result of networking.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to people – make phone calls, send emails, and get yourself heard!

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Conrad says:

    Making your own small business is probably the best way to make more money. Most people have the time and could turn it into a hobby. I have a friend who started a vending business while in college and is currently paying his mortgage with that company on top of working his regular job. Needless to say he is doing very well for himself.

    Thanks for the post!

  2. Heerhold says:

    I love this…great stuff!!!

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