By guest author Magali Laporte
About three years ago, my family decided to attend a Family Economics conference in St. Louis. I really didn’t know what this “family economy” thing was about.
To add to my confusion, I left my contact lenses at home by accident, leaving me squinting at the stage most of the weekend. It took a while to adjust, but during that fuzzy weekend the idea of a family economy began to intrigue me. At the time, our family made a plan to start raising chickens on our small piece of land. That turned out to be just the beginning of my journey as an entrepreneur.
I had absolutely no clue what I was doing, but I’ve learned quite a bit since then. I’d like to share the what, why, and how of entrepreneurship and how it has impacted my life.
First things first—what is entrepreneurship? Merriam-Webster defines an entrepreneur as “ a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money.” An entrepreneur doesn’t take the safe or easy option—starting a business does entail risk. However, it is a lot simpler than you might think.
A common question people have is, “Where do I start?” Your business doesn’t have to be complicated. Some ideas include:
- lawn care
- raising animals for food
- web design
- and more
Do you make something other people enjoy? Can you provide a service people need or want? Anything that falls into these categories has potential for entrepreneurship. For our family, it was our move into a more rural area onto 13 acres of land that prompted our foray into raising chickens. As I was graduating high school, I began to realize that my gift for teaching and passion for homeschooling allowed me to provide the service of “homeschool helper,” coming alongside homeschool moms and taking on a couple of classes during the week.
When considering starting your business, remember that you don’t have to embark on this journey alone, either. Parents are great mentors. They can lend support in many different ways, and give you a safe place to brainstorm and experiment. Siblings are also great helpers. You could even start a business as partners or as a team. With my dad’s oversight and guidance, my sister and I have run two different branches of our chicken business—I raise chickens for meat, while she raises them for eggs. When one of us is sick or out of town, we often cover for each other. Rather than operating in isolation, we are able to support and encourage one another.
Although entrepreneurship (hopefully) sounds less complicated than it did before, it still sounds like a lot of work. Why would someone want to put all that time and energy into a business—especially as a teenager or young adult? Here are a couple of reasons:
- Learning to start and run a business requires vision, initiative, and perseverance. In order to start a business, you must have a vision of what you hope to accomplish. In order to make it work, you must have initiative to get it going. In order to succeed in the long run, you have to persevere through difficulties, disappointments, and sometimes even boredom.
- Risk taking is necessary in life. The younger you start, the easier it will be to continue. If this skill is not practiced while young, fear of risk can debilitate you later in life.
- Disappointments will happen. Accepting them with grace and humility is hard, but entrepreneurship provides opportunities to practice.
- In order to run a business, you will need to perfect many practical skills. That may include identifying what a sick chicken looks like, learning a new computer language, enhancing your communication and people skills, or finding the best deals to stay within your budget.
These skills are useful in so many areas. Even if your business doesn’t seem to be a success, or is only operated in a certain season of life, you will always keep the lessons you learned during that experience. My role as the lead on one side of our family’s chicken business is coming to a close as I am launching out into my homeschool helper/tutoring business, but the skills I learned have given me the confidence and knowledge I needed to get started.
All that being said, it’s wise to do some research before jumping in.
- Know your market. Who will buy your service or product? How much are they willing to pay for it? What are your costs? In my businesses, I have struggled to find the balance between a fair price for my goods and services and a concern for my customers. Taking your costs and labor into account can help you be certain that your pricing is not arbitrary, but based on the market value of your good or service.
- Find out what the laws and regulations are surrounding your area of business. Do you need a license or permit? Are there restrictions that require you to get creative? What kind of taxes do you need to pay, and what records need to be kept for tax exemptions?
- Finally, remember that your business is often a ministry as well. Focus on serving the Lord first, and He will guide your steps. When you feel that you can’t keep up with deadlines, a customer is unhappy, or you are feeling burnt out, continue to turn to the Lord and lean on Him.
Entrepreneurship is a life-changing journey. It is risky, but the rewards are many. As someone who is daily walking this path, I would encourage you to step out in faith, take a chance, and trust in the Lord to guide your way.
- What would it take for you to start your own business?
- What is keeping you from pursuing entrepreneurship?
- Who do you know that could give you wise counsel in this area?
About the Author: Magali Laporte
Magali Laporte is a recent homeschool graduate. She lives in rural(ish) Kansas with her parents and two younger siblings. Her journey into entrepreneurship started when she was in high school. After starting out raising chickens for meat, she has pursued her passion for teaching through working as a homeschool helper and debate coach. She hopes to pursue training as a labor doula in the near future.