Tips to young people on starting their own business in a pandemic
The pandemic has been tough on all of us but young people – those aged 25 and under, have arguably been hit the hardest economically. They are more likely to be furloughed than any other age group with half of eligible 16 to 24 year olds placed on the scheme in the first three months of the March lockdown, while research* also revealed they were the age group most likely to lose their job and made redundant.
Harvey Morton is a 22-year-old entrepreneur who chose to set up his own business, Harvey Morton Digital, aged just 18 in 2016 – specialising in creating websites and running social media campaigns. He is also a former Youth Employment UK Ambassador of the Year, working with others to launch their own business.
Harvey says: “It’s always been highly competitive finding a job straight out of school or university but this year will be ridiculously hard. The number of graduate job ads fell 60.3%* during the first lockdown and that trend is surely going to continue until the country gets back on its feet.”
However, as with all recessions, comes great creativity and innovation. Harvey believes that 2021 is the year of the young entrepreneur: “Tech savvy, creative, and with plenty of time on their hands, I believe that we’ll see some incredible ideas from young people who have been forced into a corner and encouraged to think of new ways to survive.
“Young people get such a bad rep, often described as the snowflake generation with no backbone. But I believe this generation is resilient, patient, sensitive and determined. Setting up your own business and following your passion is so rewarding. Just because there are no jobs out there, young people shouldn’t let that stop them from carving their own way.”
Harvey shares his tips to young entrepreneurs keen to start up their own business during today’s downturn:
- Flexibility – Adaptability is perhaps the most important skill in times of crisis. While you should be aware of what you want and keep one eye on your goals, this is not the time to be overly rigid. Things change so be prepared.
- Self belief – True self belief is about having the confidence and motivation to believe there’s always a way. It’s not about wearing rose-tinted glasses and believing everything will be ok, but having the confidence to overcome challenges, make mistakes and stay calm to solve problems you find along the way.
- Creativity – your business will be hinged around the idea so make sure it’s a good one. Choose something that you have real passion for and be prepared to take risks.
- Self-care – if you’re working hard thinking of an idea, planning or starting your business, make sure you take some time off. No-one can work seven days a week without a break. If you want to stay resilient and healthy, it’s vital that you give yourself a well-earned rest.
- Focus – It’s so easy to get distracted by social media, Netflix, family, friends and everything in between while stuck at home. Make sure you focus – create a timetable for your day so you spend a set number of hours on something; routine is key. If you know you work better in the mornings, try to cram in as much as you can early on to give you time to relax when you’re at your least productive.
- Up-skill yourself – always take every opportunity you can to up-skill yourself. For example, learn a language using a free app like Duolingo or take a free online course or attend a webinar. Read relevant books. Borrow from a friend, join your local library, or look for ebooks online – many authors make their ebooks available for free or for a nominal price. Do a skills exchange with a friend or colleague. Set aside two one-hour blocks and take turns to teach each other a particular skill via video conferencing.
- Have realistic expectations – Lots of people express a desire to become self employed because they think it’s a quick fix to earning money but the truth is quite different. It’s often harder to earn money and doesn’t come with the benefits that employed people get, particularly at the start. The high degree of financial uncertainty associated with self-employment can also mean it’s harder to get a mortgage.
- Don’t be a lone wolf – Make sure you’re not a lone wolf, even if you are a sole trader. Explore networking and the art of asking. Seek out the company of people you respect and those who can help you in your mission to start your own business and give an honest opinion. This can be investors, careers advisors, friends and family who have been there and done that.
- Be Kind – treat others, whether that’s clients, colleagues or suppliers, with the same respect that you would hope to receive. Listen to people and learn.