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Some might assume that young entrepreneurs, especially teenage entrepreneurs, wouldn’t necessarily have what it takes to start a business and keep it running, especially past the five-year mark. After all, they don’t generally have the same discipline, connections and finances as their more seasoned peers.
However, this is where perceived weaknesses can actually become strengths. Teenagers typically possess greater resilience, optimism and creativity than adults. Sure, they might not have the same experience with fiscal responsibility, but they’re also less likely to bear the burden of supporting a family. That also means they have more time, money and resources to dedicate towards their endeavors.
These aspiring adolescent founders can always Internet for guidance whenever they get stuck, but the best advice would still come from another, more experienced teenage entrepreneur who has alread walked the walk — especially if their efforts have proven to be successful.
A prime example would be 17-year-old Ryan Ang, the New Jersey-based CEO and founder of basketball-coaching business Ang1 Trainings, who is also a standout on the Hackensack High School basketball team. Ang started his namesake business when he was just 15 and quickly developed a steady flow of clients. However, once the pandemic hit, the future of his business started to look bleak — until he came up with the idea of home-service training and virtual training. His adaptability earned notice from the likes of USA Today, and his clientele multiplied.
The upshot is that Ang has learned a great deal about himself and how to ensure the sustainability of his business in a relatively compressed period of time. That’s why I recently caught up with the ambitious high schooler/entrepreneur over the phone to talk about how other young, budding self-starters can follow his example. Here are some of the highlights from that conversation.
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Adapt and focus on impact
Ang urges teenage entrepreneurs not to be too stuck in their ways or solely focus on the bottom line. Impact, he beleives, goes hand-in-hand with brand sentiment. “During the beginning of quarantine, I conducted many free live-streaming training sessions via Instagram and Facebook Live,” says Ang. “It was such a huge success that many parents, coaches and athletes offered to pay me for private, virtual one-on-one and group-training sessions. I was even able to train athletes and basketball teams from Colombia, Japan, Ecuador and many other countries.”
Ang’s act of goodwill, and the impact that came from it, ultimately led to greater visibility for his personal and professional brand than paid ads would have, underscoring how the benefits of adaptability remain a constant in the business world.
Cater to your customers better by understanding them
There will always be competitors or similar products and services. The best way to get a leg up is to do your homework and have a better grasp of customers’ wants and needs than anyone else — down to a personal level. “Many people might say that all basketball trainers are the same, but my training is different,” says Ang. “Many trainers might go to a basketball court that is most convenient for themselves, but I am the opposite. I go for whatever is more convenient for the athlete. I demonstrate and do the drills with the athletes rather than to tell them what to do, and I adjust my drills based on the strengths and weaknesses of each athlete.”
And if you’re a teenager with teenage clients, Ang advises to use your age to your advantage by talking about shared interests while conducting business, making the overall experience that much more enjoyable for them.
Don’t let lack of funds stop your flow
When the lack of funds gets in the way, it’s time to get creative and resourceful. There are many types of businesses that can start with less than $100 in initial startup capital, and many initiatives, such as basic marketing efforts, can be done without a professional, thanks to the wealth of information that’s available online. “There will always be a way to grow and succeed, even during the darkest of times,” Ang reminds.
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If Ang’s success is any indication, the keys for all young entrepreneurs can be boiled down to a handful of key words: adaptability, commitment, creativity and, last but not least, humility.