Thinking of starting your own business? Cautious about the challenges you may face along the way? Need some inspiration to get the wheels moving in the right direction? Hear from two more successful young entrepreneurs, who shed some light on the challenges they faced when starting their businesses, and what advice they have for those looking to start their journeys.
Joonas Ahola, Founder and CEO of MeetingPackage.com
Joonas Ahola was featured on the Forbes Under 30 list 2018. MeetingPackage.com is a meeting space booking platform designed for Meeting Planners and Meeting Venues.
1. What inspired you to start your own business?
I've been an entrepreneur from the age of 14. At that point I was encouraged by teachers and a school programme called Company of the Year programme run by Junior Achievement Young Enterprise. There you run a real company for one year, to help students learn by doing. After that one year I got hooked on entrepreneurship and created my second company at the age of 16. It was an events management company which I successfully ran for 7 years until I challenged myself with a new career path - starting and running a technology company.
What inspires me today is seeing how MeetingPackage.com can help meeting bookers around the world while bringing additional sales, and lowering costs for hotels and event venues. My other inspirations are building the best team I can that share the same vision, doing something I love in an industry that I’m are passionate about, and seeing that your product actually helps people in their day to day work.
2. What challenges did you face?
One of the main challenges has been the know-how factor, which you can easily fix by educating yourself on a topic, and surrounding yourself with advisors and mentors who have done it themselves. As a young entrepreneur, you face a lot of things you don't know by default, but with a great network around you, you can easily find out and fix it. Secondly, a challenge I think everybody faces is finding the right people to work alongside you.
3. What’s your top piece of advice for young entrepreneurs?
Firstly, start networking now, inside and outside of school. Secondly, there’s a lot of education/articles online and people willing to help you - you are unlikely to be the first that has encountered the problem. Thirdly, you can always start small and learn by doing things yourself. And finally, when you find your niche, stop thinking small and aim big.
Andy Zhang, co-founder and CTO of Foldercrate
1) What inspired you to start your own business?
I was unsatisfied with my job before, and didn’t really know what I wanted. When I got the chance to follow an adventure, to go on a journey, I realised that’s what I wanted and had to do. And before I knew, it I was pulled into a really daring startup company. Before, I had never appreciated how big the world was. I came to understand the possibilities that lie in our hands, and the harder I worked on the project, the more I began to see the fog around me disappear, and realise that we have the potential to do anything we want.
2) What challenges did you face?
Every step forward I make proves a challenge. If one problem is solved, you can’t take a deep breath and be glad that it’s over. Instead, you have to think about which direction the next problem will come from. One of the first problems I faced was realising the idea and planning - where and how do we start? It is an adventure, and I have never seen an adventure where there has not been a problem showing up along the way. So it doesn’t matter what challenges you have, in the end you’ll have to face them anyway. If you avoid one, you’ll certainly encounter another. Life is full of challenges. Embrace them!
3) What's your top piece of advice for young entrepreneurs?
Choose the right people to go on your journey with, people you can become friends with. When you look back one day, you’ll see the people on your side and you will know you can always rely on them, at any time or any place. Entrepreneurship is not a one-time thing, its effects will follow you through life, and define your future, as will the people you deal with. Care about your people, think about them, give them your love, and share your life adventure with them.
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