Starting a business is easier said than done. While 66% of millennials say they want to become entrepreneurs, only 3.6% of all businesses are owned by someone under the age of 30.
Why aren’t millennials walking their talk? For starters, launching a business is notoriously risky. Nine out of ten startups fail, which, for prospective entrepreneurs, is a discouraging outlook. In addition, many of us often don’t feel supported or understood by friends or family.
I remember when I was 22, graduating college and starting my first online business selling feather hair extensions. My dad thought it was too risky and begged me to get a real job.
What most people don’t realize about failed businesses, is that many of them are preventable. The fatal breakdowns in startups are classic—whether it’s a cash flow deficit, an ineffective marketing strategy, or a flawed management team.
I recently spoke with Lena Elkins, a Tel Aviv-based millennial business coach and the host of the Facebook group “Millennial Go Getters,” a community of 15,000+ entrepreneurs learning how to strategize profitable businesses and overcome the common mistakes most millennials make when starting a business online. Elkins is on a mission to empower millennials to build online businesses that afford them a lifestyle of freedom and flexibility.
On the unconventional life podcast, Elkins shares her top strategies for new entrepreneurs to override mistakes and reroute themselves on the path to a promising business. Below, employ five of Elkins’ fixes in your own business strategy.
1. You’re having trouble signing your first client. Elkins says she was able to sign her first client by joining relevant Facebook groups in the Tel Aviv area related to online marketing. She posted in each of the groups a short description about who she was, what she was offering, why she was qualified, and how anyone interested in her services could reach her. “Essentially I said, ‘I’m new to this community, I’m a freelancer offering social media services, Im looking for my first set of clients, here’s my experience, call me,” Elkins recalls. “I got my first client that same afternoon.”
If you’re unsure of where to start, a powerful first action step is to join Facebook groups related to your niche and post about your offering. Be brief and to the point, and be sure to represent yourself authentically.
2. You don’t know how to enroll your ideal clients. Elkins says sending a short cold email to your ideal clients can be extremely effective in enrolling them to work with you. “Identify your dream clients, find them online, look at their websites. Identify a few problems they’re experiencing, find their contact info and send them an email.” In line one, start with a personalized complement to engage them. In the next line, gently criticize them with something like, “I was looking on your website and saw some things that could use some tweaking.” In line three, give them a free solution to resolve the problem. And finally, tell them if they have any more questions you would love to help. “I’ve probably gotten a 95% response rate,” Elkins says.
3. You aren’t befriending those who are ahead of You. When you’re first starting out, you don’t yet have the experience to inform high impact decision-making. But luckily, you can turn to others who do to keep you from stumbling and guide you to take effective action.
Elkins says, “Identify people who are already a few steps ahead of you in what you’re doing and reach out to them. See how you can help them and build a relationship with them.” Having a guide can be invaluable. If you can create a win-win for someone to play that role for you, you can benefit tremendously. An added bonus of making friends with someone who has influence, is that they may eventually give you the opportunity to speak to their audience, which can help you get more exposure and ultimately sign more clients.