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Five Tips for Succeeding As a Young Entrepreneur

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                   SoHo NEWS & TIPS
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- Apple announces it will pull its software 
development and support ops out of India... 

- L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. Chief Executive 
Frank Lanza died unexpectedly, leaving the firm 

- Dotster is sued by Needless Markup and Bergdorf 
Goodman in a massive cybersquatting lawsuit...

- Continental Airlines Inc. ordered 34 Boeing Co. 
jets valued at as much as $3.4 billion to help 
support international growth...

- Shareholders of General Motors have approved 
two proposals aimed at giving them more influence 
over the way directors are elected...

- Northwest Airlines Corp. sues its flight 
attendants' union to prevent it from striking... 

- Bank of America Corp. said it will offer $3,000 
rebates to thousands of employees who buy hybrid 

- Terry Semel, the chief executive of Yahoo! paid 
$60 million for a 10% stake in the South Korean 
e-commerce provider GMarket... 

- Bellevue online adware provider 180solutions has 
acquired New York-based Hotbar and changed the 
combined company's name to Zango...

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Five Tips for Succeeding As a Young Entrepreneur 

If you've got a business idea you can't stop talk-
ing about, why wait to flex your entrepreneurial 
muscles? Here are five tips to get an idea out of 
your head and into the marketplace.

* Take a calculated risk. 
While Michael Neustel was an undergrad at North 
Dakota State University he began a lawn-sprinkler 
business. It folded because he could not devote 
enough time away from school. Now a patent attorney 
and founder and president of PatentWizard LLC, a 
software company in Fargo, N.D., Mr. Neustel says 
the experience taught him the importance of 
researching the market and workload. "Young people 
can fail without losing time or hurting their life, 
then try again," he says.

A young person's flexibility is an opportunity for 
success, says Mr. Neustel. Most are single, have 
few financial responsibilities and often can live 
on a relatively little money, he says. "It's tough 
to focus on a business while paying the bills and
working a full-time job," he says. The entrepre-
neurial leap for a college student may be as simple 
as taking a semester off from school or enrolling 
part time. This stage of life is also a time for a 
young business-minded individual to evaluate 
whether the risky lifestyle of an entrepreneur is 
a healthy fit. "Look inside yourself toward where 
you are in life and ask, 'Am I willing to take a 
risk?' " says Mr. Neustel.

* Overcome early hurdles. 
During his freshman year at Princeton University 
in 2001, Tom Szaky, 24 years old, began working on 
a project to create organic plant food made 
entirely from organic food waste and packaged in 
recycled soda bottles. The company, called 
TerraCycle, now located in Trenton, N.J., began to 
grow, and by the middle of his sophomore year, Mr. 
Szaky went on sabbatical. Due to his age, investor 
interest was slow.

"In the beginning, investors totally blew us off," 
he says. Knowing his age was the primary deterrent, 
Mr. Szaky remained patient and persistent. Event-
ually, a radio interview led to an investment of 
a couple thousand dollars by a caller, and from
there TerraCycle grew one investor at a time. 
Today, some of TerraCycle's 15 products are found 
at Wal-Mart and Home Depot, and he expects revenues 
this year to be around $1.5 million. "Believing in 
the idea is critical, especially for a young person, 
because you have to get passed those first hurtles."

* Make the most of your school's resources.
Matt Stucke, a 2004 graduate of the University of 
Mary in Bismarck, N.D, received first-place honors 
at UM's 2003 annual Emerging Leaders Academy 
Entrepreneurship Fair for his invention of an 
athletic shoe cleat guard. With help from his 
school's entrepreneurial organization, the Harold 
Schafer Leadership Center, Mr. Stucke created a 
board of directors consisting of faculty and local 
business owners. "The directors were investors 
with the mindset of supporting me," he says. 

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Mr. Stucke, who now runs an Edward Jones Invest-
ments office as an investment representative in 
Fargo, N.D., called the product SafeSole. With 
the board's help, he acquired a U.S. patent and 
entered national trade shows that led to relation-
ships with manufacturers. 

Be proactive in finding entrepreneurial resources 
at your school, says Mr. Stucke. This will be the 
beginning of your network and will give you 
experience to decide if you want to become an 
entrepreneur. Many universities have entrepreneur 
centers that connect students with industry 
professionals to explore hands-on business ideas. 
Also, take advantage of your university's career 
services and alumni association. 

* Experienced professionals can help.
"Mentors are vital," says Mr. Stucke, who can call 
his mentor for advice any time of day. Mr. Stucke 
was connected with his mentor, an entrepreneur and 
business owner, while an undergrad through his 
school's entrepreneurial organization. Approach 
an experienced professional for one-on-one advice 
through your alumni association, while networking
at a trade show, entrepreneur fair or any 
professional setting that seems appropriate. 

"The smart kids are the ones who get business 
cards and hound professionals to talk during 
lunch," says Wes Moss, an entrepreneur advocate 
and former contestant on Donald Trump's "The 
Apprentice" television show. However, you must do 
your research. "People are flattered when asked 
for advice," he says. But be well-informed about 
the person you are speaking to and know specific-
ally what you want to talk about.

* Adopt a learner's mindset.
"People have great ideas in their head all the 
time, but it's the people who get it in a business 
plan who succeed," says Mr. Moss. Learning small 
business while digging your hands in it may slow 
your progress, but don't rush, says Mr. Neustel.
If you are stuck, write down the reasons you 
aren't carrying out your idea, then solve them 
one by one, says Mr. Szaky. "People get stuck in 
thinking about the process, but you have to start 
somewhere," he says.


Define your customer by getting to know everything you 
possibly can about him or her. Think carefully about your 
product or service. Exactly who would want to purchase it? 
How old is this person? What is his/her marital status? 
Where does he/she live? How does he/she like to spend his/
her spare time? What are his/her hobbies? What other 
products does he/she buy? Where does he/she go on vacation?

You need to develop your target market as specifically as 
possible if you're going to market your product or service 

So what did you think about this issue? Drop me a line and let 
me know at mailto:mandi@gophercentral.com 

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