"Dream Big, Start Small" is the theme for this year's National Small Business Week (May 4-8), which has highlighted the positive impact of small business owners nationwide for more than 50 years. This year, the SBA has launched new initiatives for Millennials and innovative products for women in business to highlight the ever-changing demographics and demands of the American economy.
According to a recent study by the Kauffman Foundation, 54% of Millennials want to start a business or are already the owner of one. The SBA is focusing on educating and fostering the growth of this generation to improve their entrepreneurial skills.
This is not new; American society is one that has long fostered entrepreneurship. Countless immigrants traveled from across the globe for a chance to experience the "American Dream." Further, we all love "rags to riches stories." Young people, in particular, are inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit. CNBC reinvigorated its evening prime time lineup by airing reruns of ABC's Shark Tank. According to TV Week, ABC's original airings of Shark Tank have scored big ratings.
Many people ask my advice for young entrepreneurs. There are three things that they should keep in mind before starting a business.
Clean up your credit
Young people like to spend and typically don't have the responsibilities such as mortgages and children that take a big bite out of a paycheck. Often they ring up too much debt because using a credit card is easy and seemingly painless--at least in the beginning. Anyone who spends and pays off in full each month is in good shape. However, too often young people incur more debt than they can handle and pay down only a fraction of it by each due date. Anyone with entrepreneurial dreams must clean up their personal credit, especially if they want to borrow money and launch a business. Whether the credit card balances were a result of not having cash as a college student, taking an extensive vacation after graduation, or simply enjoying the good life as a single person without family responsibilities, it is important to get out of credit card debt as soon as possible.
Consider buying an existing business
Some budding entrepreneurs think that they need to come up with an original "million dollar idea." However, as the Baby Boom generation retires, there are plenty of opportunities to take over existing, profitable businesses. Taking over an established company means that you can learn from that owner's experience. Perhaps there are mistakes that they can help you avoid. Whether it is a family business that the founder's children do not want to run or a company that has become too much for the owner to manage, taking over an established entity with a revenue stream can be a quick route to business ownership. Fortunately, there are financing options for such instances.
Today might just be the best time in history to start a business. Rarely do we see such a convergence: the economy is doing well, while interest rates remain at historic lows. The economic outlook is generally good, and there are many sources of funding available, ranging from traditional bank loans, to low interest SBA loans. Non-bank "marketplace lending" platforms are a growing option that get the deal done quickly, but at much lower rates and longer than cash advance companies are willing to offer.
According to recent data, young women are increasingly getting into business. According to data obtained by the SBA through the U.S. Dept. of Labor, 70% of working women have children under 18 years old and 74% of working women are full-time workers. The SBA's InnovateHER national business competition for entrepreneurs was created to inspire the development of products and services designed to enhance the lives of women and their families. The agency has selected 15 finalists whose products and services had the greatest potential for success. The finalists will pitch their products and services to a panel of expert judges on Friday, May 8 and be chosen on the measurable impact. The top three entrepreneurs will earn an award and $30,000 of prize money provided by Microsoft.
Also during National Small Business Week, the SBA will be host NYC Unplugged: A Conversation with Millennials in Business at LinkedIn, in the Empire State Building on Thursday evening on May 7. The event, which is open to the public, emphasizes on the importance of entrepreneurship in America and will feature top millennial entrepreneurs within different industries as guest speakers.
Maria Contreras-Sweet, head of the SBA will travel across the country during Small Business Week for a series of events in Miami, Los Angeles, San Antonio, New York City, and in Washington D.C. on May 8. Much focus is being put on helping small businesses launch and expand, as they are such a vital and growing part of the U.S. economy.