Advice to budding young entrepreneurs, from The Dragon and the Slayer
Whenever we’re lucky enough to speak to a group of young people, the most common question we’re asked is “how do I become an entrepreneur?”.
It’s a fair question but one that doesn’t have a simple answer. Like many things in life there’s no perfect blueprint for success or a single set of instructions to follow.
We realise this might not seem helpful but there’s some good news. The chances are if you’re asking the question you’ve already taken your first step towards becoming one.
There is also now lots of help out there, particularly from experts who are keen to offer their time as mentors. One initiative we’re both familiar with that combines the important components of entrepreneurship and mentoring is The Prince’s Trust’s newest mentoring initiative, Mosaic, which runs fantastic mentoring programmes.
As ambassadors of The Prince’s Trust, we see first-hand the importance of exposing children to entrepreneurial mindsets. Only this way can we inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and expect to keep the future of business thriving.
In fact, recently groups of young entrepreneurs were given the chance to pitch their business ideas to a panel of esteemed judges in Mosaic’s annual Enterprise Challenge Grand Final. The competition encourages young people from all walks of life to interact with mentors whilst engaging in creating social enterprises; hearing their success stories; and being inspired to follow in their footsteps.
We truly believe that it's where you come from or what your family do. It doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or a boy, if you’re rich or poor. Everyone can think of reasons not to do something but no one’s ever started a successful business without taking that first crucial step.
If it helps, we both had barriers to overcome. Neither of us came from privileged backgrounds; or grew up with money but we both had the determination to keep us going in good times and bad. This is the message The Prince’s Trust works hard to communicate.
If you’ve got an idea you believe in, put your head down and make it work. Don’t waver. There’s no such thing as overnight success and there will be days when it feels impossible but don’t give up. Be relentless. Be difficult. Don’t take no for an answer.
If someone says you can’t do it, prove them wrong. Just like James and I, proved those who doubted us wrong.
So, what are you waiting for? Start your business tomorrow. In fact, better still, start it today.
James Caan CBE and Levi Roots