By Aleeza Rasheed
While the age of the average entrepreneur is around 40 years old, people are embarking on their journey to business ownership at younger and younger ages.
This year, National Entrepreneurs Day is on Tuesday, Nov. 19. This holiday was created by President Obama on the last day of 2010’s National Entrepreneur Week, in order to honor those who choose to take on risks in order to operate a business.
The United States is an especially advantageous country for entrepreneurs to operate in, as it hosts the best environment for businesses to thrive. The United States’ Global Entrepreneurship Index score is 83.6, the highest in the world. The index takes into account national factors such as market structure, infrastructure, research and development and education.
One of the biggest reasons people take the path towards becoming a business owner is the amount of control over their own career trajectory. This holds true for college students today as well; new technologies and access to a wealth of data and information through the Internet encourages this tech-savvy generation.
Shandrea Lockhart, a senior studying real estate at the University of Georgia, emphasizes the importance of social media when it comes to achieving her business goals as a student entrepreneur, she said. Her company, Lotus Hair Care LLC, maintains a steady presence on Instagram in order to interact with existing customers while also reaching out to new ones.
“Industries are heavily saturated with businesses, and the only certain difference is the people in leadership. Social media is important because it gives you the ability to analyze the people operating the business,” Lockhart said. “What is their style? Are they authentic? Do they communicate value? From there, people can easily determine whether they will support you or not.”
Student entrepreneurs like Lockhart are in a unique position to take full advantage of the almost universal reach of social media; they know how to utilize its interface, user design and nuances to their advantage.
Robert Pinckney, director of entrepreneurship at UGA, said that “the internet is essential” for student entrepreneurs, since it “can allow a business idea to scale rapidly and do so with limited capital.” This is mostly done through networking, which is also an important facet of social media use for student entrepreneurs.
Lockhart said she believes in the importance of networking for young entrepreneurs.
“People are the business. They are every part of it: the customer, CEO, employee, manufacturer, etc.,” she said. “Networking is necessary to bring all of these people together.”
This sentiment is also reinforced by those like Pinckney who teach entrepreneurship.
“Entrepreneurs are constantly looking for resources to support the pursuit of their identified opportunity,” he said. “Networking is how entrepreneurs find the resources necessary to succeed.”
The combined collection of digital resources, academic knowledge and the digital native experience puts student entrepreneurs in a unique position towards successful futures.
Pinckney said it would be wise for students to consider their potential as an entrepreneur sooner rather than later.
“What better time to learn how to start a business than in college where if you fail it really is just another learning opportunity?” he said.
Aleeza Rasheed is studying journalism at the University of Georgia. She is a 2020 Cox-SABEW Fellow, a training program in partnership with UGA’s Cox Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management & Leadership.