Mentoring is a Must for Youth Entrepreneurs

Published: Dec 16, 2015
Last Updated: May 29, 2018

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It is never too early to test your entrepreneurial competence. Yet only 15% of all business owners in Canada are under the age of 40. One of the benefits of starting a business at a young age allows you to try new ideas while also having the time to recover from mistakes. You also have the time to develop a mentorship network that can help you to succeed in your industry.

Opportunities & Challenges

There a plenty of reasons to own a business such as:

  • having a greater control over your income
  • managing your time and deciding on your own how to use it
  • exploring and implementing new ideas and products
  • help your customers and employees to achieve their goals

But owning a business comes with plenty of challenges such as: 

  • it is a long term commitment; it can be six months to a year before you turn a profit
  • you will bare a great deal of responsibility to customers, employees and the government
  • requires many long hours since there is no one to stand in for you as well

Finding a Mentor & Developing Your Network

The number one way to overcome these challenges is to find great mentors. Mentors can give you advice on your industry and provide feedback on business plans and ideas. They can also provide encouragement and support when times get tough. There are lots of great organisations that can help you connect with mentors:

A second strategy to overcome these challenges is to build a network of young business owners and entrepreneurs. Almost any activity is better with a group of friends and the same is true of business. While mentors provide technical support your peers are often a better source of emotional support. There are several great organisations that list networking events around BC and here a just a few:

You should also develop a network with in the industry you are interested in. This allows you to identify current trends and challenges in the field. These opportunities can be developed into a business that solves these challenges. Developing a network in your field is also a good way to find mentors and develop connections with other youth working in the industry. It also allows you to scope out your potential competition. Good places to start developing an industry focused network are professional associations. These organisations often publish journals and magazines target at their industry. They also work to connect their members through events and online directories. You can use Industry Canada's Directory of Business and Trade Associations directory to identify good options.

Launching a Business

Starting a business as a youth is a leap of faith. It is rare for business owners to have all the time, connections, money and experience they need. There are plenty of opportunities to address these short comings though. Several post secondary institutions in BC now offer incubator and accelerator programs. These programs allow you to network with other business owners and find mentors. They often host classes that walk you through the process of taking a business idea through research, development and launch. Many of these programs provide seed money through awards to jump start promising new businesses as well. There are also programs aimed at post secondary students that are not affiliated with universities such as The Next 36.

There are a number of great business assistance programs in BC if you do not want to go back to school. These programs help new business owners take a business idea and transform it into a product or service for sale. They also provide opportunities for networking and mentorship through social events and presentations. They often can help with funding through awards, grants and loans as well. These programs are often target at specific populations or industries. Read over the program’s website before applying for them to make sure they are a good fit for your needs. Also, make sure you meet their eligibility requirements. Your mentor or network may have their suggestions based on programs they found helpful in the past too. 

Conclusion

One of the benefits of starting a business early is that it gives you time to make mistakes and start over. You can gain experience by going to school or participating in a business assistance program. Plus, you can develop a support network who will be invested in your success. You can start researching your business idea right now by consulting one of our 100+ industry specific accelerator guides.

Photo credits:

Pexels.com. Image made available under Creative Commons Zero Generic License. Last viewed on May 29, 2018.