How to start a business when you are under 30?

Do you want to get started in entrepreneurship? We explain how to find the idea, budget, financial aid and contacts to make your project a success!

To answer the questions that arise before launching her project, we asked some of them to Camille Coppens, the creator of the jewelry brand Dazibao and specialist in trendy start-ups. Thanks to her background in PR, international management and her specialization in entrepreneurship, this 26-year-old business mountaineer gives us the keys to success!

Camille Coppens
Photo credit: Rosalie Bartolotti

How do you know if you are created for entrepreneurship?

There is no typical profile in business. Anyone can get into entrepreneurship. What is needed is the will to succeed on this path. Once you are motivated, everything else flows naturally. And if there is no one created or not for entrepreneurship, I think there are all the same qualities required to flourish in this environment, such as: passion, determination, self-criticism and the strength to come back. Persevering people who manage to recognize their weaknesses and who have the ability to get help in the areas where they are least good will always get out of it!

What are the right questions to ask yourself before starting your business?

What excites me? Do I want to work on my own? Am I able to make my own decisions and accept the consequences? Can I thrive on setting my own goals and achieving them? Am I able to make most decisions and responsibilities? Do I have the ability to return when things go wrong? This last question is significant because the entrepreneurial world is wonderful, especially because it is unpredictable. There are days when everything is rosy, but there are others where it is a disaster. In these cases, it is important not to feel overwhelmed. You must be able to use this obstacle as an option. For example, if you receiving a complaint from a client, you should see it not as an error, but rather as an opportunity to improve your system.

When should you start entrepreneurship?

There is no good time to start, but I always advise people to do it as soon as the urge arises. It is best to hurry out into the adventure after the study, otherwise you can quickly fall into the pattern: CDI – company car – DKV – etc. And it’s hard to get out of this comfort and this stability to start from scratch without pay at the end of the month. If you do not feel experienced enough, you can also take some internships or missions in start-ups, but it is better to avoid large companies.

woman holding a mug like a boss
Photo credit: Brooke Lark

Where do you start to get started?

It all depends on each person’s abilities and progress. In general there is two types of profiles:

  • people who already have a very precise idea of ​​their project and how it should be carried out, or people who absolutely want to embark on entrepreneurship for other reasons but who do not yet know what. In this case, there are many platforms that make it possible to match these two types of profiles and gather them around a common project such as. Shapr. But there are also a number of networking sessions circulating on Facebook or events on Linkedin. So it’s good for people who want or need to meet partners.
  • And people who really want to be entrepreneurs, but who have absolutely no idea how to do it. In this case, it is necessary to turn to aid organizations such as boostyourproject.be, coopcity.be, Brussels Business Network or newly started incubators. In these structures, people who have not attended the business school and who have no idea about marketing can be coached for free by a whole network of freelancers, but also by mentors, experts and advisors. The latter will follow the process from start to finish and put the necessary markers in the adventure for the independent such as creating a business model, implementing appropriate strategies and support from the project and the person behind it.

How to find the necessary money?

When you are under 30, of course, you rarely have the necessary means to realize and concretely implement the idea you have in mind. But luckily you can start a business with zero euros, especially thanks to the support networks for entrepreneurs. These put young self-employed people in touch with banks that are ready to help them. Some offer advantageous prices or honorary loans because they know that these people are surrounded, supervised and coached in their project. Thanks to networking, it is also possible to find business angels who will fund part of the project because they really believe in it.

How can you be sure that your idea is good?

There are no bad ideas, only ideas that need to be refined, reoriented or transformed. And it can easily be done thanks to entrepreneurial networks, start-up incubators and even with the help of those around you. What you should not do, though, is say to yourself, “I have a good idea, but I’m not going to talk about it around me, otherwise it’s being stolen from me.” It’s wrong, and it closes countless doors. Discussing with people about your idea allows you to get feedback, increase your network and develop your project.

What mistakes to avoid?

  • Make one financial plan: It is always better to make three financial plans: one optimistic, one pessimistic and one more realistic. This allows you to enter your numbers no matter what phase you are going through with your business. In addition to being ready for any eventuality, these financial plans will also help the freelancer not to panic.
  • Neglecting its competitors: we often tend to think that our idea is unique or at least the best. But by doing sharp and in-depth research, we quickly realize that our project sometimes has hundreds of rivals. It is therefore necessary to be informed, to study their model and sometimes to follow a particular system in order to be competitive and as optimal as possible. Studying the market carefully is the key!
  • waiting for information: In the collective imagination, we often have this vision of the person who suddenly has a bulb that lights up over his head, and an ingenious idea that is the result of it. In fact, the best ideas are often the simplest and the ones that meet a need. For example, Ryanair’s business plan was to make overseas flights available to everyone. To do so, they have created airports and landed their planes in remote cities to reduce their costs and thus those of their customers. Today it is a low-cost empire.

Photo credit: Christin Hume

What advice would you like to have received before starting on your own?

I would have liked to have been reminded that everything you prepare for months or even years before launch is just theory. You may have the most beautiful business plan you can imagine, but it will never be in line with reality. In reality, nothing quite happens as planned on paper. There are and will always be last minute changes. You need to learn to be flexible and not be afraid of adjustments.

Then I would have liked to have been told that any problem can become an option. A complaint is never completely negative, it is a way to improve. “The school of failure”, as long as we jump back, is the best of institutions!

What are the benefits of being a freelancer?

  • Flexibility: we say goodbye to bureaucracy and well-defined schedules for the ability to organize your schedule that you find appropriate for the people you work with. Having a sense of freedom is invaluable.
  • Personal satisfaction: Achieving a self-set goal is much more satisfying than achieving a goal set by an employer.
  • Become part of a network: we often have the impression that being independent rhymes with being alone. This is false, on the contrary, we are often very well surrounded. Thanks to this status, you increase your network significantly, you get super rewarding meetings and you build a much more interesting address book than if you ate lunch with the same employees every lunchtime.

One last lift?

Get started, do not wait to have two dependent children, a mortgage and a company car. Turn off your brain and go for it. Do not be afraid to fail, let go of that pressure, because even if you do not succeed right away, you will at least have learned and tried. The experience you will have gathered will be much greater than a few years in the same company doing the same thing every day! So let’s go!

Take your tickets

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