For young people, entrepreneurship is the new 9 to 5, with 60% of teenagers saying they want to start their own business instead of working a traditional job.
But with the uncertainty that business owners have faced over the past two years, it may be beneficial for Gen Zers to learn from professionals who managed to thrive during — and after — the height of the pandemic.
Jane Labowitch, aka Princess Etch, is a 30-year-old Etch a Sketch artist who uses the mechanical drawing toy to create intricate portraits and landscapes. For the past 6 years, her art has been her main source of income.
Before the pandemic, Labowitch made part of her income by teaching private lessons and workshops. But after leveraging social media in 2020, he was able to supplement that income and then some.
“Never [the pandemic] First it happened, I was terrified,” Labowitch tells CNBC Make It. “I immediately lost a number of jobs and the number of email correspondents I had for promising projects just disappeared. But if there’s one thing I did during the pandemic, it was to stay consistent. Because with the magic of the internet I was able to work with a global audience.”
According to Labowitch, here are three things aspiring business owners should remember:
Plan your social media strategy
Labowitch says social media is a great tool for building a brand and showcasing what your business has to offer. She uses platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Discord and Twitch to boost her company’s online presence.
“I consider everything I post online to be, in a way, an advertisement for my services. I market myself with every example of work I create because you never know who’s going to see it. And you’re never going to know if something you made two years ago it becomes visible to the right eye and leads to an interesting email in your inbox.”
Labowitch first started showcasing her art on Myspace in 2007, but more recently, she’s grown her presence on TikTok by live-streaming her design process. Her viewers were then able to send her money tips on the app and have a more personal relationship with her.
These live streams not only helped her build an online presence of over 200,000 followers, but also earned her enough money to pay off the last $13,484.58 of her student loans.
“TikTok Roses are the lowest denomination currency you can donate to a live stream, and the streamer receives the equivalent of half a penny per rose,” says Labowitch. “So I did the math and found I needed 2,696,916 roses.”
“It took me exactly 30 days and 117 hours of live streaming to raise enough money. It took me the whole of April. And I developed this new, really passionate fan base of people who really wanted to support me and my business.”
Find a good, reliable accountant
Being your own boss has its advantages, but it also has its potential pitfalls, chief among them being financial. When people pursue entrepreneurship, content creation, or freelancing, many don’t realize the increased financial responsibilities they will have.
From filing taxes to documenting and tracking income and expenses, a reliable accountant can play a vital role in the long-term success of a business.
“If there’s one thing I’d recommend any entrepreneur indulge and indulge in, it’s an accountant,” Labowitch says. “It’s worth every penny for the peace of mind that my accountant will cross the T’s and tick the ‘I’s better than I ever could.”
Entrepreneurship is not for the “faint of heart”
The journey to a successful business is not linear. For some, it may take months, while other entrepreneurs take years to start their business.
Despite these varying time frames, the common denominator for all business owners is preparation. According to Labowitch, there are many aspects of early entrepreneurship that are not for the “sick,” including lack of health insurance, financing, and “instability.”
“I’m in a domestic partnership with my boyfriend because of health insurance,” she says. “And I know so many entrepreneurs who are in similar positions to me and they don’t have that option, or their partners don’t work for companies where domestic partnerships are enough. [several people] who married for health insurance purposes.’
“I also had to learn about cost of sales and just be able to figure out not only how much I should charge in general, but how much I need to charge to make sure this is a viable endeavor for me. So I didn’t go into full-time entrepreneurship, I started doing this.”
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