What is a recent grad to do when all the promises of a bachelor’s degree are not living up to expectations?
Now more than ever, the need for alternative strategies in launching one’s career is essential. Just like in the struggle for life, it’s not the strongest who survive but those who are most capable of adapting to change (sorry, I’m a bio grad).
Unfortunately, for those who have recently finished school or about to graduate, that change is a nasty, little tsunami called the global economic recession. So, if opportunities are scarce in companies big and small, maybe it’s time to consider being the founder and CEO of your very own company.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: What kind of company would I start, and with what money?
Like a fish in water, being in debt is a young grad’s natural state. But, you’d be surprised how eager older generations are to support youth business ideas when accompanied by a solid business plan. Governments and NGOs have a substantial number of programs in place to assist budding entrepreneurs turn ideas into reality.
The Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) is one such organization that focuses exclusively on helping young entrepreneurs plan, fund and launch their ventures.
Support for small business is also incredibly strong across all levels of government in the country. Recognizing that job growth and a strong economy is often directly the result of work done by small and medium enterprises (SMEs), governments do their best to facilitate as much growth as possible for these companies.
While the support is already in place for those small companies, how does a young, self-starting grad get started on their own venture? The best advice I can give is start small, focus on a target and work towards your goals with passion.
Starting small and specialised is the only way to attract and retain customers, and eventually carve a niche in the marketplace. Trying to be the next Wal-Mart of whatever sector you’re working in will only result in fruitless exhaustion. Instead, take your passion or hobby and make that your business. If you have strong interests or opinions in a particular field, look there first for inspiration and opportunity.
Even though money problems may be deep and persistent, a little creativity can go a long way when starting something. A part-time business can be a great way to generate an income while working in a job you’re not completely satisfied with or even while you’re still in school. Low initial investment and minimal pressure are two of the many benefits of initiating any business on the side. Managing your own time and effort is all that is required when you work for yourself.
But you need not take the first few steps in any new venture alone. While it would not be a bad idea to bounce your ideas off family and friends, it’s probably best to consult professionals when beginning a business. Obtaining advice from people who have been there and done that before can be invaluable and will definitely save you on time, money, and frustration. Finding a mentor is also within reach. As mentioned before, CYBF has locations across Canada which offer free mentoring services to young people interested in developing their business plans into reality.
So if being your own boss is something that sounds appealing, take the first step and read up more about how to get started. There is no harm in feeding your curiosity about the world of self-employment.
The following books and web links are especially useful:
- The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki
- The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
- Canadian Youth Business Foundation
- Small Business Workshop (Government of Canada)
- Business Development Canada