Understanding Resources

A recent report from The Princes Trust, Down But Not Out, shows that young entrepreneurs feel like they need more information with regards to finding opportunities, support and guidance, particularly when just starting their own businesses.

When you look at youth entrepreneurship at the moment, particularly in the UK, it can be argued that there is a lot of support available. However, when you look deeper into this, it seems that the majority of the support is financial, taking the form of low interest loans. Yet, without sufficient support in the form of mentoring and information on how to manage the resources that they already have, the money given out via loans is only part of the solution. It is therefore important that when starting a business you know what resources you already have, and can utilise them in the best possible way.

Here are the top 3 resources young people have at their fingertips when starting their own business.

  • Personal skill set: It sounds strange, but often when you’re so focused on one thing (i.e the business) you tend to forget about all of the other things that you have done over the years and the skills that you have built up. Every short course, summer program or hobby has pushed you into this direction. Making lists or creating mind maps of things you enjoy and are good at is a really great way to identify these skills. They don’t even have to be relevant at this stage, but you do need to realise that they are there for future reference.
  • Contacts: It’s true, the older that you get the more contacts that you have. However, even from a young age, you are making contacts in different industries and meeting people with different skill sets. By writing down a list of everyone that you know and there key competencies (as you understand them), you could move ever closer to finding someone to talk to that specialises in a specific aspect of your business. Discussing things and exploring new ideas can leave you energised and inspired. Both traits that you need when starting up!
  • Internet Access: Most of the world has internet access and by utilising it in the right way you can build up all sorts, from communities to businesses. By doing your research and finding the right tools to help you get where you want to go, you can increase your reach and your sales. Be prepared to try lots of different avenues to build up your success though, and don’t give up. Sometimes a little patience goes a long way. Also, remember, it’s a great place to learn and fill in the gaps in your knowledge. Nobody expects you to know everything, but taking the time to understand key issues for your business will put you in a much better position and help you to make informed decisions.

Business and Sustainability

Sustainability in recent years has been used to define anything that by altering the normative behaviour of the consumer has the ability to keep going past its expected lifespan. For example; by reducing our energy usage by turning off the light as we leave a room, we are cutting down the amount of fossil fuels which are used to power our homes and offices thereby making the fossil fuel that we already have last longer. These small acts or normative behaviours are indicative of the realisation that if individuals and companies keep operating as they are, then future generations will be unable to enjoy the same resources, and as a result may have a decreased quality of life. However, sustainability doesn’t always have to do with the environment. It can also be applied to businesses and social equality.

According to The World Council for Economic Development, for a business to be sustainable, it needs to combine economic efficiency with social equality. This addresses business issues such as “innovation, prosperity and productivity”, as well as personal issues such as “poverty, community, health and wellness and human rights”. When analysing this list, it becomes apparent that money, although important, isn’t what makes a business.

Without ideas, growth and productivity (in terms of both product and intellectual based output) consistently being developed, improved and renegotiated as part of an ongoing process, businesses cannot be sustained. By being unable to keep up with the competition, reframe their ideas or keep ahead of consumer needs, businesses often find themselves unable to sustain themselves, even if they originally had money. To be able to excel in these key areas it can therefore be concluded that businesses need people who are able to grow, share ideas, and put their efforts into producing the desired output of your business.

However, if workers face poverty (relative and actual), don’t feel as though they are part of the work community, are sick or have their human rights threatened or taken away from them, the three key business issues; “innovation, prosperity and productivity” can be harder to achieve. By focusing on the individual and making small changes such as paying the living wage, making an effort to build a good work environment so that everybody feels safe and having rules and regulations in place that seek to look after your staff, can make a big difference. It is true that you won’t be able to control everything, particularly as your team grows and more and more relationships are formed, but making an effort to look after individuals can have a bigger impact on long term outcomes and business sustainability.

Defining What Is Important

When you are first starting to develop your business and refine your ideas, it can be difficult to balance what you are doing with regards to building up your business with all of the other things that make up your life. Evidently, starting a business is a lot of work, and will take up a lot of time, but if you are really not happy and feel like your life has become dedicated to working more than it is to living, perhaps it is time to take a step back and re-evaluate what you want and how you can feasibly get it. One way to do this is to work out what means the most to you and to make a “priority list”.

A “priority list” is a list of all of the things that are important to you and that you want to get out of life. This can be made up of anything that you feel passionate about or that you find important for you to enjoy your life. For example, if you feel passionate about learning new things outside of your business then that should be on the list, and likewise if it is important to you to be able to spend more time with family. Once you have created this list of as many things as you can think of, it is essential to decide what the three most important things on your list are.

Once you have decided on the three most important areas, try to find ways that you can incorporate them into the life that you are already living. Going back to the example of wanting to spend more time with family, if you analyse it, you may have opportunities to spend time with them already, but are getting distracted with work emails or you continue your work through dinner. Something as simple as turning off your phone past a certain time at night, and eating dinner together as a family can make a real difference in helping you feel like you are taking control of your life, and can also give you what you want and need. If you really feel like it is not possible to incorporate these three things into the life you lead already, then perhaps it is time to make some changes.

Change is often scary, but if you are not happy doing what you are already, then it is inevitable. Making the decision to change the things that are not working with new ideas helps you to feel like you are in charge of your life, and will often teach you invaluable skills that you can apply in your business. There is a well known quote taken from Lori Greiner that “entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week”, but if you aren’t getting enough out of life now, you may need to weigh up your options and try to find the balance that suits you.