You can learn a lot of things by flipping burgers that you aren’t going to learn anywhere else in the world. It’s a great exercise in patience, and you’ll learn the nuts and bolts of food safety that your parents don’t teach you at home. But there’s a growing trend among Gen Zers to skip these early life lessons and get straight to the serious stuff.
Millennials are skipping entrepreneurship, but Gen Z is picking up their slack — 72% of high schoolers want to start their own business someday, and 61% of college students would rather be entrepreneurs than employees.
There are some pretty major obstacles to starting a business when you are very young, but it’s nothing you can’t overcome if this is the path you want to be on.
Starting entrepreneurship young can help you learn valuable career skills.
Teens and young adults are able to be much more creative these days in the ways they earn money. Back in the pre-Internet days, you would have gone down the street to the local burger or pizza place and put in an application for a summer job, have had a lemonade stand, or mowed lawns. These days you can make money designing logos on Fiverr, selling your homemade crafts on Etsy, or even self-publishing your books and selling them on Amazon.
The Internet has revolutionized many things, including the various ways in which you can earn a living and gain job experience, and Gen Z has taken note. More than 22% of those who are 13-21 years old report that they make money online, 16% report that they work for themselves, and 9% already work full-time.
Despite advances, it’s still not easy being a young entrepreneur.
Despite the ease of access to a world of opportunity on the Internet, pursuing your dreams as a young entrepreneur is still not easy. The world is still set up to cater to adults, and that goes especially for the business world. Oftentimes, networking events are held in locations where you have to be 21 to get in.
There’s a fair amount of age discrimination from vendors and suppliers, who may not take you seriously; the stereotype that young people are lazy and entitled may be a greater barrier than you think. It’s also nearly impossible to get a credit card at a young age unless you are already making money, and many older entrepreneurs use credit cards to advance and grow their companies.
In fact, the law says you have to be at least 21 to even get a credit card unless you have a cosigner or proof of steady income, and banks have even tighter rules than that.
Getting bank loans is another major obstacle. Legally you have to be 18 to get a bank loan, but again banks have even stricter requirements. There’s a good chance you will need a cosigner who has a long credit history, such as your parents, and asking your parents to leverage their future so you can start a business might not be easy. But most small businesses need a loan at some point, so this may be a bigger obstacle than you think.
Age restrictions can also be a serious obstacle when it comes to online payment systems. Credit card processors often require users to be at least 18 years old for legal reasons, which can prevent you from being able to get paid for your work.
Work-life balance can be difficult.
Most young entrepreneurs report that they will continue to go to school while they are working, but a business is a serious endeavor that can’t always be scheduled around classes and homework. You may also find yourself wanting to hire your friends, so you can all have fun working together, but that may not be the best course of action.
Finding the balance between friend time and work time and school time is especially difficult for young entrepreneurs who lack the experience to know where to draw those lines.
Still, entrepreneurship is doable for young people.
Being a young entrepreneur is totally doable. You know the obstacles you will need to overcome, so don’t be afraid to try new things and to ask for help. You have the advantage of not having much to lose if you fail, which can be a huge asset. You’re more tech-savvy than previous generations, and you are less reluctant to try the latest technology. You also don’t have generations of business rules drilled into your head yet, so you are free to try new things.