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Five practical tips for young entrepreneurs setting out to build a business

To ensure sustained economic advancement and growth it is imperative to support youth entrepreneurship. If you’re a young person looking to branch out on your own following university, school, or a few years in employment, you are embarking on an exciting journey. The challenges can be daunting, but there is a real sense of freedom and empowerment in running your own business.

Here are some practical tips about how you can get started as an entrepreneur.

1. Gain experience if you can  

Many young people in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries create their own businesses as the preferered route over employment. However, if the opportunity presents itself, it can be worthwhile to earn some practical experience and start building a network in the workplace before setting out on your own. It may be worth applying for internships to build up skills and knowledge before starting a business.

Sage, for example, runs an internship programme that offers young professionals an opportunity to apply their education in a real-world work setting. They are placed in different business functions, including customer services, customer for life, legal, marketing, IT, product delivery, partners and alliances, HR, and transformation.

2. Look into business skills and vocational training

Young professionals create side hustles to make ends meet and start businesses to create jobs. Some will be lifelong business owners, while others might one day prefer to secure a job. For that reason, it makes sense to invest in building practical skills that strengthen your resume as you grow a business.

Even if you already have a skill – for example, welding or computer programming – getting a certification can show customers you really know what you’re doing.  An introductory business skills course can help you develop administrative, time management, marketing, sales, and interpersonal skills that will vastly improve your chances of success.

Some examples of cost-effective or free learning resources include:

3. Seek a mentor

As you set out on your entrepreneurial journey, speaking to someone who has already walked a similar path can be highly beneficial. A mentor can provide you with sound advice and introduce you to their business network. If you know someone in your personal network who can help, reach out or ask a friend for a recommendation.  Other areas to look for a mentor include networking at industry associations and local chambers of commerce, or joining incubators, and attending industry conferences and events.

4. Start small, run lean

External funding from investors, banks, and the government can seem challenging, so most young entrepreneurs need to self-fund their businesses. Even if your business generates cash, it pays off to be frugal in the early months or years. Some ways to save money are to barter goods and services with friends or other small business owners, use free and affordable cloud software when you can, and work from home rather than renting office space.

5. Don’t forget the formalities 

There is a lot of admin involved in setting up your own business. You need a business bank account, and you will need to register for VAT. These aspects are essential to consider, and you might need professional help from an accountant or tax advisor.

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