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Young Americans Center for Financial Education has an incredible program called YouthBiz where kids can learn all about becoming an entrepreneur. From learning the basics of how to run a business to marketing and selling your product, YouthBiz allows young people to participate in all levels of entrepreneurship. I was fortunate to attend Denver Startup Week in 2017, and the advice I heard there echoes the hands-on experience YouthBiz provides.
One of the Startup Week sessions I attended concluded with three entrepreneurs, Mark Cuban, Brad Feld, and Charlie Ergen, answering the question, “What advice would you give to a kid who wants to become an entrepreneur?”
Brad Feld emphasized that mentorship is a huge part of becoming a successful entrepreneur. I remember him saying, “The best relationships are the ones where you both gain something.” Find a mentor with a mutual passion and bring you personal experience to help them succeed. Brad is a venture capitalist and co-founder of TechStars, an early venture fund and start-up accelerator.
Charlie Ergen, Co-Founder of Dish and EchoStar answered next. He began, “The hardest part of becoming an entrepreneur is just doing it. You have to burn the bridge behind you so that failure’s not an option. But first, you have to get an education, get the best education that you can get, and then when you’re ready, just go for it.” His advice was to be fully committed and to put all the resources you have into your idea to give you the best chance at success. He went on to say that he knows people who just put it a little at a time and always have a way to back out, and those are the people who don’t do as well.
Finally Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, provided the advice, “Just go. I didn’t know what I was doing when I first got started … Just go out there and sell and you will learn along the way.” He emphasized that the best way to learn is to jump in and gain experience. You learn not only from your successes but also your failures.
Putting the advice from all three of these amazing businessmen together will help any young entrepreneur become successful. Create relationships with those in the industry you are interested in, bring value, go for it, and learn along the way. YouthBiz does all of this and more. There’s a mentor program to connect kids with adult entrepreneurs. There are two Marketplaces every year (one begins next Friday, November 27!) where entrepreneurs can go for it and try out a business idea. And, there are programs, classes, and camps that help kids learn along the way.
Colorado kids are so fortunate to have a program like YouthBiz to help them learn more about entrepreneurship.