Young people who want to start a business someday should be aware that they most likely will need to seek outside funding to make their dream a reality. Whether in college, high school or younger, it is never too soon to begin preparing to approach a lender for startup funding.
One way to start preparing, even at an early age, is to start saving money for the future business. Many clients I work with, no matter their age, do not realize the lender typically expects them to have at least 25 percent of the money needed for startup. So for a $100,000 startup, this would be $25,000.
It takes time and discipline to accumulate the money needed.
Small business lenders look for borrowers with a good record of debt repayment. This is not just about whether there are late or missed payments. Having no credit record at all can also keep you from getting the loan. You need to start as soon as possible to develop excellent credit.
First, educate yourself concerning how credit works. Reputable nonprofit agencies exist to educate consumers about this, and resources are available through high schools and colleges.
As soon as feasible, obtain a credit card in your name and begin responsibly using it and making payments. Be careful that you have the ability to pay it back and that you pay on time. You might take out a small bank loan and pay it back. Monitor your credit report regularly to be sure it is accurate. Know your credit score.
Lenders require collateral for small business loans, and real estate is preferred. Depending on what age you are when you actually start your business you may not have achieved home ownership. So you may need a cosigner for the loan or you may have to seek other sources of funding such as an investor.
When evaluating a loan request, lenders place a lot of emphasis on the experience and ability of the proposed business’s management. You must demonstrate you know what you are doing. Small business owners need an understanding of all aspects of running their business, whether it is record keeping, using financial statements, marketing, finance or hiring, managing and training personnel.
So start now to educate yourself concerning business management and operation.
This could be anything from reading books on business startup and management to taking classes available from local nonprofit organizations and colleges. You also may join business clubs and organizations. There are online classes, articles and blogs.
Many high schools and even middle schools have activities and programs to help students prepare for successful business ownership.
And you not only need to understand the fundamentals of managing and operating a business; you should be continually learning, networking and observing current events, maintaining awareness of changes and trends in the economy and your proposed industry.
Although it is not required for success, you may, if you wish, eventually obtain a degree in small business management.
Take advantage of other resources available to help you learn how to be a successful entrepreneur. Numerous programs encourage and foster youth entrepreneurship.
There are also nonprofit and government sources of information, classes and consulting such as SCORE, SBDC and centers for entrepreneurship.
Gaining actual experience in the real business world is crucial. Find a job working in the type of business you are seeking to start and learn everything you can about the business’s operation and management.
This experience may lead you to change your mind about what type of business you want to own, but it is best to find this out as early as possible so you can redirect your efforts. Some high schools and colleges offer apprenticeship and internship programs to help you gain experience.
A critical part of your efforts to prepare for funding and starting your business is to find a mentor who can guide you on your entrepreneurial journey. Seek an older, experienced, successful business person who is willing to share their wisdom and expertise with you.
Connie Edwards is business consultant for the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center in Savannah. Contact her at 912-651-3200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.