Editor’s note: This is the first in a five-part series on starting a business at various stages of life.
Q: What should high school students consider when starting a business?
A: Drawing upon their tech savvy, students are starting e-commerce businesses, social media consultancies, fashion lines and philanthropic ventures. A recent survey by Junior Achievement and EY (Ernst & Young) found that 41% of teenagers would be interested in starting their own businesses rather than following a traditional career path.
High school students have many resources available. The internet provides access to customers, suppliers, channels, and potential advisers and mentors that previous generations of entrepreneurs never had so easily. Many high schools run business and venture startup programs, and organizations like Junior Achievement, DECA and BestPrep provide additional avenues for learning about entrepreneurship and developing a business plan. Competitions, like St. Thomas’ Business Plan Competition, have high school tracks where students can earn seed capital for their businesses.
Amy Helgeson, a sophomore at St. Thomas, took advantage of all the resources at her school and community.
“When starting a business in high school, it was super helpful for me to attend entrepreneurship-focused business competitions like the MN Cup and Junior Achievement Company Program,” she said. “Both competitions had professional partners that paired with students and guided them through the process.”
Starting a business as a teenager requires time, hard work and a passion for the problem you are solving with your business. Ben Morone, a freshman at St. Thomas, started several businesses in high school.
“Passion level is important because starting a business takes an immense amount of time and if you aren’t committed to the process of constant learning then you and your business will struggle,” he said. “Having a realistic time frame is essential. Every business I have been involved in has taken longer to reach certain revenue or growth goals than I originally thought, and realizing this has allowed me to keep a positive and logical mind-set.”
Laura Dunham is associate dean of the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.