written by Rich Sloan of StartupNation.com and highlighted in Costco Connection Magazine June 2018
For all the talk of tech-savvy, independent-minded millennials embracing entrepreneurship, statistics show that many of them aren’t. The US Small Business Administration (sba.gov) reported that in 2014 fewer than 2 percent of millennials were self-employed, compared with 7.6 percent of Generation X and 8.3 percent for the baby boomer generation.
High student loan debt and other economic issues may be contributing factors, making it challenging for many 20 and 30-somethings to start companies.
If you are among the cash-strapped millennials who could use use some street smarts and jolt of inspiration, here are a few options to get you going.
Bootstrap your idea
If your’re low on cash, consider pursuing a business idea that doesn’t require a large amount of upfront capital.
Plenty of successful startups get off the ground without big infusions of cash. For example, Hannah Lavon, the 33-year-old co-founder of Hooray Hoopla, which sells and manufacturers quirky mismatched socks, called Pals Socks (palssocks.com), started up at the end of 2015 with just $600 for prototypes. Now, Hooray Hoopla‘s Pals Socks product line is sold in over 300 stores nationally. That’s a full-fledged business started with less than $1,000.
Start a side hustle
Working on your startup while still employed is a great way to advance your business idea, giving you firm footing while you confirm some key assumptions and generally de-risk the opportunity.
Let’s say you’re planning to create an ACT counseling business. You could start as a part-time tutor for kids in their early teens. This ideally would not only generate incremental income, but would help you build your brand in our community, give you experience and insights, and, most importantly, develop a prospective client list, all of which you could parlay into momentum for your startup.
If you have an idea for a product and a knack for getting people excited about it, crowdfunding through a site like Indiegogo or Kickstarter could be another viable way to solve your capital needs. Crowdfunding can come in the form of actual investment and ownership in your company or – amazingly – in the form of prepayment by customers who want first dibs on your cool product. Yes, people will park their money with you even though you’re not even in production yet.
To be a successful crowdfunding campaigner, you’ll have to demonstrate your marketing savvy and know-how.
Online marketing plays to millennials’ strengths as, relatively speaking, they tend to be well connected on social media, which is ground zero for crowdfunding campaigns.
The challenge in the crowd-funding landscape is to break through the noise by telling a compelling story and demonstrating the irresistible nature of your product-to-be.
You need great images and video, as well as editorial content that showcases the product and your know-how, so people will naturally want to pass them along to their own networks.