Millennials: 5 Tips for Starting Your Own Small Business
Independence is a great career option for Millennials. Rather than competing for a traditional job, you can build a project-based business with multiple clients. Working as an independent can be one of the best ways to enjoy a flexible schedule, personal freedom, comfortable income, and a fun, rewarding career.
Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest demographic cohort, and comprise 38% of full-time independents. More than half of Millennials with traditional jobs say increased flexibility is an advantage of starting your own business, and 44% say pursuing a passion or interest is an advantage of working independently.
If you’re a Millennial looking to go independent, follow these five tips to launch a successful solo career.
1. Write a Basic Business Plan
Depending on the type of business you plan to start, you may not need a highly elaborate, formal business plan, but every independent professional needs to have a clear roadmap of how they intend to make money. Your business plan might be as simple as asking and recording the answers to the following questions:
- What services do I offer? Here, try not to be all things to all people. Instead, keep your services focused on your biggest strengths.
- What is my target market?
- What is my competitive advantage?
- What rate do I need to charge to be profitable and earn a good living?
2. Find Your Expertise
You can learn how to do anything, but don’t try to do it all. As an independent, it is essential to have a clearly defined, marketable expertise. This will help you develop a strong brand and direct your efforts to a specific audience rather than attempting to generalize to a large market.
3. Maximize Your Network
Surrounding yourself with a strong network of friends, family, and other independents is one of the most important steps you can take when first starting out. Your network will provide leads, support, and a sounding board for your ideas. Take time to nurture meaningful connections, and explore both online and offline networking opportunities to develop new relationships. Online consulting job marketplaces are a great way to promote your skills to a large group of potential clients at once.
4. Build Your Brand and Reputation
Be generous with your time, skills, and expertise. Offer to speak at local business groups to share what you’ve learned with others. Volunteer and be active in your community. Strike up conversations on social media with people who are influential in your industry; don’t feel intimidated because you may be younger or less experienced.
Everything you can do to get your name out there and build your network is a valuable part of marketing your solo business. Each small project you take on can give you a foothold to an even larger and more lucrative future project.
5. Market Your Business Every Day
One of the most important jobs you’ll have as an independent is marketing your services. To keep your business thriving, you need to keep a fresh stream of opportunities in your pipeline. When you’re first starting out, reach out to your inner circle of friends, family, and former classmates or co-workers. Pitch your services to them and ask if they know of anyone who needs the kind of help you can provide.
Once you’ve got your foot in the door, ask clients for referrals or if they need help tackling a bigger project. Repeat business and referrals are the lifeblood of a successful independent. Before long, instead of pounding the pavement looking for new clients, you’ll find that more of your clients will start looking for you.