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Tips from the Trenches: A Young Business Owner’s Take on Entrepreneurship After College

April 6, 2012

In our last Youth Entrepreneurship blog post, we brought up several points to consider when mulling over whether enrolling in college or starting your own business is the right post-high school choice.

Of course, the end of high school isn’t the only time you’ll be presented with two roads diverging. For those of you who attend college, “What’s next?” resurfaces in four short years—or in just a few weeks for some of you. So the question is now, in LeBron James-speak, “Where should I take my talents after college?”

While most young entrepreneurs tend to think they should acquire some real-world experience at full-time jobs before embarking on their business ventures, we recently spoke to a young entrepreneur who might encourage you to reconsider the merits of obtaining that “real-world experience.”

David Comisford, 26, started buying back college textbooks from fellow undergrads at Capital University in winter 2006. Since then, he’s transformed his dorm-based business into Frewg, Inc., an online storefront where college students can buy, sell back and rent college books. And he did it all without any full-time work experience under his belt. (more…)

Can entrepreneurs be trained to save the world?

March 31, 2012

I recently had the honor of interviewing the Managing Director at one of the top entrepreneurship academic institutions in the world, and it inspired me to take a closer look at one of most controversial topics in entrepreneurial education: “Are entrepreneurs born or trained?”

Janet Strimaitis joined the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship at Babson in 2003, and before that she was an entrepreneur herself. Her personal business experience and involvement in detailed global entrepreneurial research programs led her to the following perspective, “Babson believes that entrepreneurship is a method that can be taught”, but she cautions, “Entrepreneurship is not formulaic. It is an interactive process informed by action learning and subsequent modification. It is a rich experience, and the entire field is now recognized in academia as something worth pursuing. It has gained credibility in the top academic institutions.”

The list of successful entrepreneurs in Babson’s “Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs” certainly supports this premise.

In a Bloomberg article by Karen E. Klein, entrepreneurial consultant John J. Rooney, stated “In my experience working with hundreds of entrepreneurs and teaching on the faculty at the University of Southern California’s entrepreneur program, it is clear that much of entrepreneurship can be successfully learned. However, it is also clear that people who take positive action and are focused and committed and continue on despite some negative feedback or setbacks have skill sets and personality traits that can be inborn or learned.” (more…)

Four Questions to Help Determine if College is Right for You

March 30, 2012

Trying to decide which college acceptance letter to open first? We have an alternative idea: Tear them all up. Forget about college.

While we certainly think college has a place, the fact is higher ed isn’t for everyone. If you consider college the means to starting your business, answering these questions can shed a new light on your decision.

1. Can you learn your field only in college? If your entrepreneurial dream involves something like opening a cutting-edge surgery center—where you’ll personally be doing some of the cutting—our crystal ball shows college in your future.

If, however, your passion lies in running and not necessarily participating in your business, you can learn more about business doing business than studying it in college. Unfortunately, you may have difficulty entering the workforce without a degree, as many non-degree holders will affirm.

2. Do you already have a product or service you’d like to bring to market? Waiting at least four years before bringing your idea to market could be its death knell. After all, why wait when PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel may give you $100,000 to start your business if you skip college? (more…)

Why young entrepreneurs don’t have to start with BIG loans

February 3, 2012

In a recent study published by the Kauffman Foundation, young people listed two main challenges in becoming entrepreneurs: access to entrepreneurial training and access to capital.

There are many resources for young entrepreneurs to gain knowledge about starting their own business. The idea of funding your enterprise through sales is “The Lemonade Stand”approach. This idea can also be applied to funding entrepreneurial learning. Here are seven ways to get affordable entrepreneurial enlightenment without risking it all.

1. Work for another entrepreneur to learn the ropes.

2. Read as many books and publications about entrepreneurship, start-ups and business as possible.

3. Volunteer for a company that needs extra assistance. See if there is a problem you can solve in a unique way, and take action.  (more…)

Youth Entrepreneurship: The Equation for Success

January 18, 2012
By Amy P. Kelly

People always ask, “What is youth entrepreneurship? Is it just some kid that starts a business?” During 2012, this column will explore various topics in relation to youth entrepreneurship. It will be analyzed through an equation that applies to all the successful youth entrepreneurs in recent history.

“Youth” is a concept defined by the observer. If someone thinks you are young, then you are youthful to them. This means you could be 9 or 29 – but either way, motivated to start your own business. Therefore, a “youth entrepreneur” is someone that is considered a youth and is an entrepreneur.

(O + R)∞ + Pr – F + Ac = Ye

The key to being a successful youth entrepreneur is the equation above, and young entrepreneurs have never been more important to the world. So let’s break it down, and start actualizing this equation today.  (more…)