Young professionals are starting businesses at younger ages than their counterparts in previous generations, according to the 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report. While Baby Boomers tended to launch their first business around 35 years of age, Millennials are doing so around age 27.
If you take a look around Burlington, that young, entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well across the city. Burlington is home to many successful start-ups, including Dealer.com, Mamava, PieMatrix, and Budnitz Bicycles. So, what makes these start-ups succeed?
Launching a Successful Start-Up
We talked to Katie Taylor of Launch VT, an initiative that helps entrepreneurs with opportunities for exposure, education, and experience, about finding success when launching a small business.
Put Yourself Out There
Selling yourself is part of running a business. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, putting yourself out there is the name of the game. Attending events, joining professional organizations, or being active on social media are all ways to expand your network. “Even if folks aren’t super comfortable with it, they need to get out there and talk to people,” Katie says. “And you also need to have a deep belief in your product or service.”
Accept the Risks
Starting a business comes with inherent risks—financial risk, market risk, product risk, team risk, execution risk. Whether you’re taking the leap and leaving your full-time job to start your new company or easing into your business over a longer period of time, there are always risks involved. “Accomplished entrepreneurs are the ones who were honest with the risks associated with their start-up. If people are super risk-averse, it’s hard to launch and be successful,” she says.
To successfully launch a business, chances are you’re going to need to work day and night to get your company off the ground. Since you’re spending most of your time on starting your business, it helps to be passionate. “People starting a business should have a burning, fiery passion for what they’re doing,” Katie says. “Those are who are just kind of dabbling in something will struggle more with being successful.”
Do Your Homework
Do you know your competition? Not doing market research when planning your business can hurt in the long run, especially if you’re developing a product that’s already on the market and you’re not aware of it. “If you don’t know competition is out there, you might have to go back to drawing board,” Katie says.
Collaboration is Key
When starting a business, your instinct might be to save money and do everything yourself. But trying to do it all on your own is a surefire way to burn out, Katie says. Whether you need bookkeeping or web design, it’s wise to invest your resources in a professional who can help. “When you’re just starting out and don’t have much money, you tend to think you can do it all and not spend resources. But that will lead to less success.” Katie says. “Venture capital firms are also less likely to invest in your business if it’s just run by a single person. It’s too risky. Most businesses that rise to the next level are more than a single person business.”
Learn more about UVM’s Career Pathway Certificate Programs at learn.uvm.edu/careers.