Young Americans Blog

Building a Business from the Ground Up

By: Cheryl Prendeville Published: March 11th, 2013
Grizz Deal facilitates a Q&A session with three successful young entrepreneurs.

Grizz Deal facilitates a Q&A session with three successful young entrepreneurs.

On Saturday, ambitious current and future business owners gathered in one place to learn from each other, discuss best practices, ask questions, brainstorm, and share successes. This was the Business Building Workshop and it kicked off a season of free classes for youth to learn more about the exciting world of entrepreneurship.

Getting started

A large part of the workshop consisted of a Q&A session led by Grizz Deal, a serial entrepreneur, and three young entrepreneurs.  Lyla Padden of Flour Gal, Alyssa Witter of Aly Cat Designs, and Chloe Warren of Sweet Bee Lip Balm were invited to share their experiences and lessons learned.

The young entrepreneurs first explained how they got their business started.  They mentioned hobbies that they enjoyed, a suggestion from a family member, and an interest in using excess items around the house.

You can watch Alyssa Witter explain her business start here:

Tough questions

One of the subjects that was explored most by those in the room was the issue of time.  ”Entrepreneurs are notoriously bad at allocating resources,” said Grizz to the group.  Lyla Padden explained that to make her cupcakes, she sometimes missed a few sports practices or game, and would frequently wake up early.  Grizz’s best advice on that front?  ”Just don’t sacrifice sleep!”

Alyssa Whitter talked about her jewelry business in terms of making management decisions.  ”The materials are expensive, so I have to constantly think about setting aside some of my profits to reinvest in the materials.”  Grizz pulled out that story as a great example of cash flow.  He explained to the audience that he started all of his business with just $50.  If he couldn’t grow the business off of that initial $50, then it wasn’t worth it to him because of the need for too much cash up front.

The three business owners also discussed the advice and mentoring they’ve received.  Each has had a different experience, garnering help from adult business owners.  Grizz explained that any business owner can be helpful; a mentor doesn’t necessarily have to be in the same industry.  ”Most of the skills you need to run a business are the same in all types of companies.  You  need sales and finance and management skills, no matter what.”

The Q&A session wrapped up with an intriguing conversation about marketing and resources.  An audience member who currently runs a small duct-tape wallet business asked how the entrepreneurs market their businesses, especially if they’re too young to spend a lot of time on social media.   The three ladies listed off a wide range of marketing techniques, including:

  • Flyers to friends and family
  • Email blasts to friends, family and current customers once the base is built
  • A great website
  • Social media (Facebook and Twitter)
  • Talking to stores that could sell your products for you
  • Taking business cards everywhere you go
  • Participating in the Young Americans Marketplaces and business competition

What else?

The rest of the day consisted of a “how-to” networking session and a short seminar on resources to use to get started.  We’ll share this list of resources and more details in another blog post.

If you missed this class, be sure to check out the list of upcoming workshops and classes like this one here.

For now, tell us: what questions do you have for the young entrepreneurs?  We can send them along to give you answers!

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