This article is part of Entrepreneurs: The Next Generation, a ShareAmerica series written in simplified English and designed to help you develop your business vocabulary. Click each underlined word to see its definition.
The author is Ankur Jain, entrepreneur and founder of the Kairos Society.
Entrepreneurship can launch you on a path to change the world. But closer to home, entrepreneurship can free you to transform the lives of your family and people in your community. What better reasons are there to start your own business, except, maybe, the satisfaction of being your own boss?
In my experience launching the Kairos Society, a foundation that provides support for student entrepreneurs, and my own company Panjia, I’ve seen such examples every day: All over the world, young people without any of the advantages considered crucial to success are starting businesses. What they do have is the passion and determination to make their business dreams happen and to change the world.
One of them, Hemant Sahal, a 26-year-old entrepreneur and educator in India, is moving ahead with Butterfly Innovations, a startup to create an open and connected education system online.
His first business idea came while he rode his bicycle through poor villages near his home. Sahal noticed that villagers were suffering from poisoning caused by tainted drinking water. Most existing water filters did not remove toxins, and those that did were too expensive for local people. Through his first company, CALLMAT, Sahal developed inexpensive treatments for removing toxic chemicals from the water supply in poor villages.
The time is now
In many ways, this is the perfect time for young people like Sahal to experiment with entrepreneurial ventures. Governments of nations with emerging economies start to see the value of helping citizens realize their business dreams. Entrepreneurs create jobs and increase prosperity more efficiently than governments — especially when they are free to do so. The Internet has collapsed time and distance barriers. Business incubators appear in places from Cairo to Warsaw to São Paulo, where earlier few people understood what entrepreneurship is about. Young people everywhere can take part in the entrepreneurial revolution.
If you’re fired up about becoming an entrepreneur, don’t get discouraged by the obstacles you believe are in front of you.
Solving a problem
You may think that money, or lack of money, can be an obstacle to starting your own business. Although startup capital, or money you need to start your business, is great if you can get it, plenty of businesses are launched without it. For instance, businesses based solely on the Internet don’t need office space, complex supplies or other things that normally require upfront money.
If you need startup capital, there may be financial resources from your local or national governments that you’re not aware of, so it’s smart to ask around. You can ask ordinary people to invest small sums of money in your startup on websites such as Indiegogo or RocketHub.
You may believe that you can’t launch a business because you don’t have partners or mentors. Thanks to the Internet, you don’t have to worry much about finding people at home to team up with you or give you advice. You have a wealth of advice, support and potential partners at your fingertips. You can build a team, find suppliers and manufacturers, and do other things online.
Think about starting a business this way: Entrepreneurship is about solving a problem, not starting a company. A few years ago, two friends realized just that. While attending the University of Southern California, Jonathan Shriftman and Jake Medwell saw that other students were buying fixed–gear bicycles. These bikes were expensive — typically $1,000. Jonathan and Jake were convinced the bikes could be made more cheaply, but they had no manufacturing experience.
Nevertheless, they searched the Internet and discovered that they could have the bikes made for $310, and a business — Solé Bicycles — was born.
Don’t take “no” for an answer
Jonathan and Jake asked a lot of questions before finding the right partners for the business. You need to get into the same frame of mind to become an entrepreneur. So don’t be shy about asking people for information or connections. Sometimes we are afraid to ask for favors but, trust me, the entrepreneurial world is built on people helping each other.
You also need to believe in your idea and lose your fear of being told “no,” because you’re going to hear “no” a lot. That’s OK — it’s part of the process of starting a business. You can expect to be told “no” about a hundred times before someone actually says “yes.” Find a few people that believe in you and keep them close — they can support you when you’ve heard nothing but a flurry of “no’s.”
Most importantly, don’t ever let hearing “no” stop you from dreaming big and setting your goals high.