A first job brings with it more than just a steady paycheck. The experience teaches life and work skills that provide benefits long after the job is done. But as our nation continues to recover from the deepest recession since the Great Depression, American youth struggle to get the work experience they need for jobs of the future.
Starting a business, however small, offers a viable option for creating jobs. All across Colorado, young men and women dream of opening their own businesses. Some are looking to start the next social media phenomenon or add value as a ‘creative’ in marketing and graphic design. Still others focus on business ideas that fill important niches on college campuses or in local communities.
As I walk down the halls near my office in downtown Denver, I often see young men and women waiting to speak with one of our small business counselors. It’s invigorating to know that each and every day in this country, someone wakes up with an idea and many of those ideas will eventually become businesses.
The U.S. Small Business Administration offers the tools and resources new entrepreneurs need to succeed. At the SBA, we know young entrepreneurs constitute a valuable source of American innovation and long-term growth. And they need jobs now.
With tenacity and a little planning, an idea can and will become a reality. It’s possible to create your own job. But you most likely can’t do it alone.
The SBA knows that young entrepreneurs have different sorts of needs. They’re online and mobile. They’re starting different kinds of businesses while working out of cafes or even dorm rooms. Consequently, the SBA has launched a new set of online tools with links to resources and free online courses geared specifically to young entrepreneurs at www.sba.gov/content/young-entrepreneurs.
Take this course or listen to a podcast for the essential steps in starting a business. It will stimulate your thinking and move you forward on the path toward entrepreneurship. This and many of our tools were built by young people working for the SBA. They understand your generation.
Throughout the region, I have recently spoken at a number of our SBA-sponsored Young Entrepreneur Series (YES) events. These events provide an opportunity for young entrepreneurs to hear from SBA leadership about best practices in building their companies. Also, many universities and colleges support entrepreneurship curricula and sponsor entrepreneurship day and other campus events.
The new SBA online community also posts articles and advice from tens of thousands of small business owners and fledgling young entrepreneurs. You can join us at www.sba.gov/community.
In addition to our YES program, the SBA provides many tools for young entrepreneurs. We like to call these our “three C’s” — capital, contracting and counseling.
We provide capital through our government loan guarantees serviced by banks and credit unions, Contracting opportunities abound for small businesses in federal procurement — including special efforts for women, veterans and disadvantaged business owners. The SBA offers counseling and training to more than 1 million aspiring entrepreneurs each year.
In terms of access to capital, the SBA microloan program offers a great example. The program provides low-cost, low-dollar loans to youth entrepreneurs and small business owners who need a small infusion of capital to start or expand their businesses.
No matter how old you are or what your business involves, the SBA offers resources to help you grow your ventures. Get in touch with your closest SBA district office or resource partner at www.sba.gov/direct.