33 Finance Expert Tips for Millennial EntrepreneursWritten by Bernard on December 06, 2016
Millennials are the next leaders of the business world, and many are working hard to craft their perfect business idea.
In order to help millennial entrepreneurs succeed, we asked 33 finance experts what their best advice is for entrepreneurs under 30.
They came back to us with some amazing and crucial tips for how these young entrepreneurs can ensure they succeed in the business world. These tips include
- cutting back on expenses
- having the proper insurance and licenses
- saving as much as possible
- paying off debts
- being time-efficient, and much more.
These are highly actionable expert finance tips made for millennial entrepreneurs.
Saul M. Simon, Simon Financial Group
Here are several financial steps you may want to consider taking right now:
- Save for retirement. 401(k) and 403(b) plans through your employer allow you to invest funds, tax-deferred, in a painless and regular way. Withdrawals of earnings are taxable as ordinary income and, if taken prior to age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal tax penalty.
- Pay off consumer debt. Paying off high-interest debt is the first way to begin saving. Pay off a credit card as soon as possible to avoid paying monthly interest.
- Consider mutual funds. Mutual funds can be a way to invest while minimizing the risks associated with owning individual stocks and bonds. Work with an advisor to find funds that match your needs and goals.
Maxime Rieman, CoverWallet
Young millennial entrepreneurs should take the time to make sure they have the right insurance coverage. If they don’t they can easily lose money, or even go out of business.
We’ve seen that the majority of businesses don’t understand their policy, so a large portion actually think they have cyber liability coverage from their general liability policy. What happens? 60% go out of business within 6 months of a cyberattack.
Jacqueline Shaulis, CEO of Awesome Enterprises
Treat your business like a business. The purpose of a business is to exchange your goods or services for a customer’s money. No money = glorified hobby. So focus on getting paid customers by marketing and delivering your solution to their problem or need.
Keep track of your expenses and income, being sure to file necessary paperwork for taxes, licensing, etc.
Be aware of where you want the company to be in 1 year, 3 years, even 10 years and actively work toward those revenue, profit, and customer goals.
Get help where you need it so you can spend time on what you do best and leverage your support team for the rest. Treating your startup like a business will truly set you up as an entrepreneur rather than a wantrepreneur.
Rob Andersen, Founder of Mustard Seed Money
My #1 financial tip for millennial entrepreneurs is to carry as little debt as possible. Too often I see entrepreneurs that must give up their dreams due to an overwhelming amount of student loan debt, credit card debt and car debt. By carrying little to no debt these entrepreneurs can spend less time worrying about paying bills and more time spending on their companies.
Entrepreneurs that carry debt should get as lean as possible through selling excessive items on Craigslist/Ebay, selling their car, or even to move back home with mom and dad if possible to reduce expenses and debt.
Bottom Line: The entrepreneur needs to get as lean financially as possible so they can pursue their dream as long as possible.
Sam Boothroyd, Founder of Rymer Associates Online Accountants
When I started my first business I faced the same problems as every start up. How can I get everything I need for as little as possible? That’s when I learned my first lesson as an entrepreneur. Do not undervalue the benefits of working for free!
There were 2 key areas I needed assistance in to help my business progress. As an online business I needed a quality website and I also needed an online presence.
So, I approached independent website developers and SEO experts with an offer. The website development was an easy deal to make, You create my website and I’ll complete your accounts. Deal done! The SEO expert was slightly more tricky as I wanted to learn about managing my own SEO instead of having someone else manage it for me. But we managed to agree that I would training them in Bookkeeping (saving them in annual accountancy fee’s) and he would teach me how to improve my SEO!
David Ferguson, Tech Smart Boss
- Stop buying things with the expectation of future growth. This includes not renting or purchasing fancy office space and not implementing expensive technology.
- Operate a debt-free business and have at least 6 months worth of operating expenses saved. Beyond the fact you will have a stable and sustainable business the biggest benefit for me was the peace of mind, the lack of financial stress, and when you have a saving mentality you really evaluate new purchases before spending your hard saved money.
It took me until 40 years old to realize this and if I had told myself this pre-30 (assuming I would have listened) my business growth would have been exponentially greater.
Gene Caballero, Co-Founder of GreenPal
One piece of advice I would give to new entrepreneurs is to make sure your product or service is solving a big enough problem.
If your problem is not 10x better than the traditional product or service, it will be hard to have product market fit. Talk to strangers, family, friends, co-workers and see if they would PAY for your product or service….not just see if they like it.
Jacob Dayan, Partner and Co-founder of Community Tax
The best advice I can give young entrepreneurs is to not equate short term growth with cash flow. People who paid attention in business school know this, but the opposite is usually true. If your business is growing, if you’re bringing on additional resources, conducting research or acquiring assets, there isn’t a lot of extra cash to go around.
When you’re young and used to living on a budget, the temptation is to increase your personal spending in anticipation of a windfall. Wait until revenue growth actually becomes income growth before you take on a lot of new personal liabilities. Being patient might not be as much fun, but you’ll be glad you waited if things don’t go exactly as you expected.
Jeff Kear, CEO and Founder of Planning Pod
The best finance advice I have for entrepreneurs under 30 is:
- Keep your day job & don’t take any money until you are profitable & paying yourself – this gives you leverage
- Price your first minimum viable product under market value to gain audience share – you can always charge more later
- Use online surveys with AdWords & Facebook ads to first assess market interest & to hone in on the most desired feature.
Sal Sodano, President of SkyToaster LLC
Be stingy but don’t cut corners, especially with core aspects of your business. Do you need to make this purchase or can it be delayed? How important is this item to you and your business? If you do need to make the purchase, force yourself to find 2-3 alternatives. Weigh each option’s cost against the expected value and estimate the quality level of each.
Always pick the least expensive option that provides the level of quality you need. If this is a core part of your business, then spend more if it will buy you more quality/value (your customers will thank you). Sometimes you will end up not buying anything, or delaying a purchase indefinitely, be open to that out come and you’ll save money.
Lorra Brown, LBE Consulting LLC
While millennials may start with little to no salaries and high debt, this can affect their ability to save, the key is to create a budget and stick to it. Make a budget on Excel or download an app to include income and list all the expenses.
Practicing this disciplined strategy early and implementing buying what they need and not what they want will payoff in the long run being able to reap substantially later. This should be applied in both their personal and business.
Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com
Up-and-coming millennial entrepreneurs need to focus on paying off any existing debt they have before seriously committing to their business.
From credit cards or student loans, pay off the debt that has the highest interest rate first and then work your way through debt with lower interest rates. Doing this improves your credit score and makes you a more attractive candidate for a loan or any other potential financial opportunities.
Jason Weisbrot, Co-founder and President of Arteeni.com
The best advice I can give to active or aspiring entrepreneurs under 30 is to save aggressively. That doesn’t mean you have to give up everything, but it does mean that you have to decide what is most important and what you can live without.
In my case, the best two things I did were avoiding car payments by driving an older car (I drove a 1997 Honda Accord until 2014) and living with a roommate as long as possible (I did so until I was 29). That enabled me to save tens of thousands of dollars during my twenties.
Larry Kemp, CFO of Kemp and Sons General Services
For millennial entrepreneurs, it is very important that you:
- Maximize your time because time is money. Do not do anything that doesn’t make your business profitable, more efficient or effect the bottom line.
- Track your expenses. Use an online bookkeeping system to enhance your financial record keeping to have data readily at hand and a vehicle to produce financial projection sor documents for lenders when you are in need of funds for expansion and growth.
- Have cash reserves of 6 months to a year. Opt to pay expenses in cash versus using credit. Focus on profits and keeping expenses low.
Madelaine Cohen, Author & Business Mentor
Look for 2%. When you are being creative and expansive with your ideas and you receive hesitation from others ask them this questions: “If it could be done, what might it look like?” You are looking for expansive success and the pathway that only 2% of people will ever take. Align yourself with the 2% who find the pathway and be in the top 2% always and in all ways.
Embrace change and challenges. Your ability to have a high degree of behavioural flexibility as an entrepreneur is defining for your success. It means always taking the position of observation in the face of drama and problems, stepping outside the issue and looking at it like you are watching a movie, seeing the “gift in strange wrapping” and maintaining your focus on being of service as the main driver in the success of your business.
Practice self-control. Switch on the absolute authenticity of your attributes as a leader and an entrepreneur and use these everyday in your business life. Your role as a business leader is to bring out the best in yourself and others.
Walt L. Jones III, SEQ Advisory Group
From my experience, millennial entrepreneurs should:
- Save as much cash as possible, even consider a part time job that you can use the money to fund your venture. Even when you get those initial clients or sales, you still need to operate until the revenue arrives. Accounts Receivables don’t pay bills so be very diligent about your company’s cash position.
- Keep overhead as low as possible. There are tons of resources available now where you can start a company with little to no capital depending on what your business is. Use only free software for operations (Accounting, CRM, invoicing, email, etc.). Virtual offices are great for access to meeting space and if you don’t wish to use your home address. If you need to take clients to dinner, frequent the same restaurant and sign up for their rewards program.
- When spending money, ask the question, “Will this lead to actual revenue being generated?” It forces you to be mindful of spending and wasting capital on fleeting ideas.
John Lie-Nielsen, CEO and founder of One Park Financial
The best time to financial begin your entrepreneur journey is when you have no one financially depending on you. You are free of rent, mortgages or a spouse and children. This allows you to use your funds for your business without have to provide for anyone or anything. Plus if it fails, you can get a part time job and save money again until you are back up on your feet.
Get a mentor or two. Find someone who has financial experience and sit with them twice a month to examine your spending habits and how you could be pulling back more to put more into your business. This is the time for you to be cutting back, no more dinners out or splurging on that Starbucks. .
All that matters are sales and the $ coming into the bank. You want to keep this high and make sure you use your resources and contacts to help you get there.
Glenn Carter, Sharing Economy Entrepreneur at The Casual Capitalist
- Embrace the sharing economy. Let’s face it, most entrepreneurs in this age bracket are operating with limited or no capital and business experience. The sharing or gig economy enables them to dip their toes into the entrepreneurship waters without much risk. This has the advantage of teaching them valuable business lessons that’ll serve them the rest of their lives.
- Focus on learning. If I have learned anything building up my website business or my real estate investments it’s this, the more you know, the more you can exploit opportunities. The business environment changes constantly. New technology crops up that disrupts entire industries. Keeping ahead of the curve in these developments will give any budding entrepreneur under 30 a specific advantage and head-start in exploiting opportunities.
Bottom Line: Constant learning and the sharing economy will expose any budding entrepreneur under 30 to key business lessons that’ll serve them for their entire lives, at a fraction of the cost and risk!
G. Brian Davis, Co-Founder of SparkRental.com
Don’t be afraid to bootstrap. Ignore the glitz and glamour of VC funding and consider the costs, from high ownership stakes to lost control over your company’s direction and future. Instead, brainstorm 15-20 alternative sources of funding, from credit cards to personal loans to friends and family to crowdsourcing websites and beyond. Bootstrapping comes with its own advantages, from forcing you to focus on the absolute most productive activities to forcing you to build your own expertise in a wide range of fields. You can scale once you’ve made all your biggest mistakes on a smaller playing field.
Start and stay lean for as long as possible. You don’t need a fancy office (or in many cases, a commercial office at all), and you don’t need high overhead. Every single penny you spend on your business should have a high ROI, in the first year or two. You can’t afford to blow money extraneously in the beginning.
Avoid the temptation to live large in your personal life. You want to show your friends how well you’re doing, and you want all those things you never had control over when you were growing up. But the longer you can live frugally, the more money you can invest into your business, and the better chances it has to be successful.
David James, Founder of Business Growth Digital Marketing
Invest in bookkeeping software that will allow you to easily track and manage their budgets, cashflow and expenses. I use a cloud based software, so I can easily have my bookkeeper and accountant manage the books. From a management perspective, it is easy to get a snapshot of accounts and make managerial decisions at a glance.
Entrepreneurs need to invest in resources to grow. Profits should always be a priority, however growth in the business’s early stages is key. This means the business will need to reinvest its profits and even raise funding from bootstrapping or external investments.
Landon Wiggs, Wiggs Photo, LLC
Research. Before I started my business, I read everything I could about different business structures. I finally settled on an LLC because a) the profit from my business can’t be separately taxed and it can be filed on my personal tax return, and b) an LLC is easier to run and doesn’t require the formalities a corporation does.
I did a lot of research on tax benefits for photography businesses, which will save me thousands of dollars in taxes when it’s time to file. Also, when I pay an accountant to do my taxes, I can write that off as a business expense.
Be organized. I like to create spreadsheets to track my income and expenses. Staying on top of the “boring” stuff like tracking income and expenses will save me a huge headache when it’s time to file.
I run a photography business, so I need to have detailed, well-organized folders for my clients’ files. Many times I have multiple projects going on at the same time, and not organizing my files in a detailed way that makes sense will only lead to mistakes, dissatisfied clients, fewer referrals, and missed opportunities.
Judah Ross, Austin Young Professional
I have founded sales and marketing teams at many early stage startups. Time and time again I have found the most important thing to do is networking.
- For Funding – if you want to get in front of the best VCs you need to have connections. The quickest way to get their attention is through referrals, in fact it’s how they do most of their business.
- For Employees – recruiting is one of the biggest money and time wasters for new entrepreneurs. One wrong hire can be fatal to your company! The best hires I’ve made have been people I or my colleagues knew on our own
- For Sales and Marketing – getting those first few logos and creating interest and hype. Having a contact who’s a director or VP at Oracle and will put that logo behind a pilot and quote can literally make your business.
There are many ways to network. Meetup has tons of options but it’s hit or miss. If you want to make good quality connections you need to pay. Some of the best are Young Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Clubs. The most important step is just to get out there and do it.
Jess Chua, Certified Career Coach at Inner Life Goals
For millennial entrepreneurs, it is important that you:
- Educate yourself about financial management as soon as you can. It’s never too early to begin learning about how to make wise investments, grow your earnings/savings, and reduce debt.
- Cut back expenses on unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking. This helps your mind, body, as well as your wallet. Live frugally during the early days of building up your business so that your money goes toward absolute necessities.
- Be willing to invest in yourself and your business when you’re ready, in terms of delegating to experts the areas that are out of your expertise. This will save you a lot of time and stress from trying to figure out and manage everything on your own.
Codie Sanchez, CodieSanchez.com
In business there are only 3 ways to make money.
- Cut costs
- Get More From Current Clients
- Find New Clients
The biggest mistake I see entrepreneurs making is they make it so dang hard on themselves. They try to find new clients instead of going to their current client, or if it is a brand new business going to their network and asking for referrals or larger market share.
Starting a business will ultimately take more capital than you assume. You will save yourself major headaches and maybe save your actual business, if you focus on doing it as economically as possible. Especially when it comes to website & logo design, marketing, advertising, promotion. Most of this can be done for free these days to start and determine your MVP (minimally viable product). Then as you gain scale you can apply cash where needed.
Leo Welder, Founder of ChooseWhat.com
Don’t rush to buy a house. Mortgages and real estate can be a good thing when you’re on a specific trajectory, but they can also limit your options- both financially and geographically.
Beware of ever-growing monthly expenses. If you’re currently employed, making good income, it’s tempting to start eating at nicer restaurants, joining a nice gym, increasing your travel budget, etc. However, these things are hard to quit once you start, and that larger monthly cash burn rate will make it more difficult to fund your business and your life when you decide to start a business.
Stay liquid. When a great opportunity comes along, you’ll need all the cash you can gather to invest. If you put your savings into ill-liquid investments like real estate or private equity (like angel investments), you’ll be unable to harness your full financial power.
Adam Torres, CEO of Century City Wealth Management LLC
Start a retirement plan now. It does not have to be a complicated matter. You can start some retirement plans with as little as $100 dollars. As the saying goes, the most important dollar you invest is the first one. Compound interest is your best friend, the sooner you invest the sooner you give yourself the potential to earn.
Develop the habit of investing by paying yourself first. If you have income coming in you can afford to pay yourself. If you do not develop this habit now, then even when you are making large sums, you will not pay yourself. This can be a big mistake 10-20 years down the line. Especially if you are considering selling the business.
If you are not comfortable with investing then outsource it. If you do not enjoy the market, don’t do it yourself. There are low to no cost options available. If you prefer to work with a person, hire an advisor. If you are just starting out, it may make sense to use a robo advisor which can do the work for you. Outsource your investing, and focus on your core, growing your business.
Daisy Jing, Founder & CEO of Banish
My experience has taught me a few important lessons that can be useful for up-and-coming millennial entrepreneurs:
- Attend networking events, trade shows, conferences, etc. I know some people say it’s a waste of time, but in the beginning, attending these events were crucial for me to build my network. Maybe attending a $2,000 conference plus another $1,000 of travel expenses may be hard for a business just starting out, but sometimes I would gain just one takeaway that made me multiples of that.
- People who fit well on my company’s culture are not always the applicants “good” on paper. Don’t just scan resumes (especially if you’re a small business) based on the pedigree/prestige or even when someone mentioned about big/branded companies. Focus on these questions instead — “Can this person learn?”, “Is he excited?”, “Is he willing to do what it takes to get the job done?”
- No health, no wealth. Avoid getting sick at all cost. Prioritize your health because without good health, you won’t be able to create wealth, can’t enjoy that wealth, and you’ll just see yourself crying for what is “left.”
Kelvin Jiang, Founder of Buyside Focus
Early entrepreneurship is about hustling for business. My #1 tip is to also hustle for discounts. Business solutions are often expensive for young start-ups. However, if you email the founder, CEO or CMO to explain your business and ask for a discount, you’d likely get it.
For example, if you’ve just started an online business, internet marketing and CRM solutions can be expensive but necessary. Find the founder’s email address on web sites, express your passion for their product and explain your business. Ask for a discount, and demonstrate your desire to upgrade your solution down the road.
Bottom Line: Don’t just hustle for business. Hustle for discounts.
Joshua Wilson, Partner & Chief Investment Officer at WorthPointe Wealth Management
My top 3 finance tips for millennial entrepreneurs:
- TV is a goal-killer. Cut your costs by cutting your cable and working more. For entertainment, get out of the house and go talk to people or read a book.
- Stop planning and spending and just start selling. People who wait until everything is perfect before launching rarely launch at all! You’ll learn a lot more by pitching than you will by over-preparing and spending on things you’ll eventually need.
- Make frugality part of your pitch. If you are under 35, someone is already stereotyping you as entitled. Starting lean and staying lean will make people see you as a breath of fresh air rather than just another privileged youth.
Meredith Wood, Fundera
Many young, millennial entrepreneurs lean on their debit card for business transactions as to not spend more than they have. But if you can get to know your budget and what you should be spending each month, put your spend on a credit card.
There are so many credit cards offering cash back and rewards for businesses, you can literally save (or make) money by using a credit card for spending. Not to mention, it helps you build business credit which is important for any young business
Daniel Nathan, Co-Founder & CEO of Bidmotion
Capitalize on market inefficiencies, and maintain independence.
Starting my career with negative 30K EUR in my bank account, I needed to build a business with positive cashflows from year 1.
Therefore, I entered an established industry with a more effective product directly responding to specific industry needs. With a superior product and strategically selected mature industry, we quickly reached profitability. Focusing on the massive potential of mobile devices in reshaping advertising technology, I spent time understanding the market before earning enough to launch the BidMotion mobile MarTech platform, bootstrapped with the sum earned from the sale of my previous endeavor.
Maintaining independence from external funding, while at times difficult, has granted us the flexibility needed to constantly adapt and keep up with the rapid mobile industry innovation rate. A mentor once told me “build yourself new needs, and you will find new means to get them;” therefore, I never cut back on expenses or investing, I grow both of them gradually and rationally.
Remco Marcelis, Partner at Standard Ledger
1. Live on whatever is just enough.
First, realise what exactly you need in life just to live. Second, how little can you truly live on when you cut it back to the bare bones. This will make your venture last longer than everyone else’s.
2. Take action when something isn’t right
Nurture the habit of taking action. Entrepreneurs are great at just getting things done. But they often don’t take action on the red flags they see in their finances. It might mean having hard conversations with your partners or co-founders; it might mean doing difficult self-reflection. Whatever it is, just do it.
Ian Atkins, Analyst & Staff Writer at Fit Small Business
fitsmallbusiness.com | @FitSmallBiz
Revisit Your Business Plan Often
Most entrepreneurs understand the value of developing a clear, detailed business plan when they’re starting out. However, as their business begins to take off, entrepreneurs often fail to make time to revisit their business plan. Failing to regularly revisit your business plan can be a costly mistake.
Your business plan will keep your weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals in line with your annual goals, your 3 year plan, and an exit strategy. A builder doesn’t glance at their blueprints once before breaking ground and then never return to them. An entrepreneur shouldn’t be neglectful of their business plan.
Treating the business plan as a living document that you revisit and update regularly will help ensure you build a business that will stand strong and tall for years to come.
These are some amazing and actionable finance tips for millennial entrepreneurs. Do you have any more great finance advice? Let us know in the comments below!