The New Year is a season of resolutions and seeking new opportunities. Perhaps you may be one of the people looking to do something new this year. Why not try starting a business? Yes, no matter how young you are!
Being young, we think we might not have the capabilities for success. Business may also seem risky, and irrelevant to our interests. To disprove these myths, there are stories of successful entrepreneurs so young, they could have been your classmate or friend in college.
We can start a business with something that’s very much part of us. Back then, Micah Valero was getting bored in class. To pass the time, she started toying around with paper, clay and pens, creating little anime character chibis. Her friends saw her creations, and asked her to create their desired characters.
In time, she perfected the craft, creating full-colored “keybies” of different characters. Her college organization, Malate Literary Folio, asked her to sell them for the school fair. I remember seeing them for the first time and saying, “How cute! And look, all my favorite cartoon characters are here!”
Later, she tried to sell the keybies in cosplay and toy conventions. They were a huge hit! Today she runs Keybie Café, which now also sells keybies online and accepts customized orders.
Melany Sy is also a young entrepreneur, and currently studying in De La Salle University. She was searching for a good hobby. An idea came from a friend’s mother, who was preparing souvenirs and said that corporate giveaways would be a great business venture. She jumped at the idea and established Gifts and Goodies, which showcases corporate giveaway products online, fully customizable to suit the client. Today, along a similar thread, she also runs Custom TeesPH, which is into customized shirts with printing and embroidering options.
Melany shares her point of view on entrepreneurship’s many advantages, “You get to learn much, experience new things and meet many people. You are able to buy or pay for a lot of things. I am able to lessen the load on my parents in sending me to college and for paying for other necessities.”
Micah cites the freedom of having one’s own business. “You can dictate your own schedule and create timetables to suit your needs. You also have the choice to work at home. When I wake up, all I have to do is go downstairs and go to my personal work area.”
Micah offers some words of caution, though: “Having this setup requires loads of discipline. Being your own boss means you could easily make excuses for poorly using your time. On the flip side, you could also end up overworking because your workplace is at home and there’s no escaping it.”
Micah talks about the foundational steps. “It’s important to have an idea of what you’re going into and what your goals are. These would set what you need to research on to start the actual business. You would need to study the product and the market you cater to. Going blind into a business means a bigger chance of failing and losing money.”
Melany talks about the bottleneck, “I believe that starting a business is the most difficult part. You need to think about the business’ mission, vision, specialty, target market and many other things. You have to do extensive research about your desired products and your competitors’. You then need to contact various suppliers to provide everything the business would need.”
On growing the business, Micah gives the following strategy: “You need to know how to expand your market, and get the resources needed to keep up with the growing demand that comes with expansion. If you want to use social media to reach people, you should be capable of putting out eye-catching content. You wouldn’t want to spam people and turn them off. You should make a good impression and keep them interested in your business.”
On maintaining the business, Micah shares advice that gives a glimpse of her experiences: “You have to keep yourself disciplined with being on top of the orders and the accounting. Stagnating can run you the risk of being outdated, so you have to keep up with the wants of your target market. You also have to be patient, even when some things make you want to scream into a pillow.”
Even though entrepreneurship has its pains, it also has a lot of blessings. “Back then, I had a customer who was still a kid,” Melany says. “A few years later, he came back a bit grown-up, and he was still buying my stuff. Another customer was so happy with the keybies, she created matching keybie houses for them. The money that I got from the business can be good. But the fulfillment it gave me to see my customers happy was pretty darn good.”
When asked whether we can be entrepreneurs while young, Melany says, “Having vision, passion and determination are the most important things. One should not be barred by his or her age when he or she dreams about becoming an entrepreneur. It doesn’t matter whether a person is outgoing or shy, but whether he or she can put his or her foot forward in achieving his or her dreams. Aspiring entrepreneurs just need to go out of their own comfort zones and do their best in everything.”
Entrepreneurship is a worthy challenge that reaps great rewards. Consider making it your new year challenge. Happy New Year!
Gifts and Goodies
Custom Tees PH