Serial entrepreneur Scott Gerber has a message for young people: Don't listen to your parents, your mentors or your teachers when it comes to looking for a job after college. Gerber says the system of the past doesn't apply to our generation; instead we will beat the unemployment plaguing our generation not by simply trying harder, but rather by creating our own opportunity.
When Gerber attended New York University, he soon realized that he didn't have any inclination to get a real job, but he called his first business a "disastrous failure." He put in the hard work, but not the practical steps to build a business. It was a mistake he only made once.Gerber, who is still in his 20s, has started several successful companies, including Sizzle It! He is one of the most widely-read entrepreneurship bloggers and now an author. His book, Never Get a Real Job: How to Dump your Boss, Build a Business and Not Go Broke, offers tips, tricks and practical advice to young people who don't want to end up just part of another sad statistic about youth unemployment.
The book is available on Dec. 8, but until then students intrigued by Gerber's solution can check out nevergetarealjob.com where Gerber gathered Gen-Y entrepreneurs from across the world to answer questions for those trying to join the ranks. This Young Entrepreneur Council features Money College's own Lauren Berger, the Intern Queen.
"I felt that the education system and our parents and our mentors kind of have this one-track mind and that one-track mind is you work hard, you get good grades and you get a good job," he said. "Unfortunately, even for folks who wanted that reality, that reality is no longer even possible."
For Gerber, the advice of those who have come before us just doesn't apply.
"We are being told to send out more resumes and beg others for opportunities instead of creating it for ourselves, and that's where my call to action came from last year when I saw the statistics that 40% of our generation is unemployed and underemployed at some point since 2008," said Gerber.
After college, students are faced with crippling student loan debt and are often working minimum wage jobs before they go back to school to remedy their lack of opportunity. Gerber said their solution only further perpetuates this myth of the past.
Here are a few myths and truths about starting a business as a 20-something, according to Gerber.
MYTH: Starting a Business Takes Investment Money or a Bank Loan.
More important than investment money is hustle and boot-strapping said Gerber. His whole concept is based on making the most of the resources at hand.
MYTH: Your Business Idea Has to be Original and Innovative to be successful.
"A lot of aspiring entrepreneurs think they need to re-invent the wheel every time they put something out there in the world and that is the stupidest idea because then you scare yourself out of starting something," said Gerber.
TRUTH: Companies Grow Best by Putting a Creative Spin on Unoriginal Ideas.
Marketing and branding grow companies. "By being unoriginal, you're taking crucial services like bookkeeping or garbage hauling, they don't sound sexy, but it's what you do with them that makes them unique," said Gerber. "Look at College Hunks Hauling Junk, it's the unsexiest business in the world, but they found a way to put a spin on garbage removal and now they're a $3M company."
MYTH: Growing a College Business Will Look Like Facebook in "The Social Network."
"These Hollywood glamorized one-in-a-million things that we talk about are entertaining, but they are also very misleading," said Gerber. "Business is not meant to be a gamble, it's meant to be a calculated risk."
Gerber's advice comes from the perspective of someone who has been there. His company, Sizzle It! creates videos for PR and marketing professionals with a client list that includes Procter & Gamble. His success was not a fluke. He created his own business by not following the advice of his elders. He advises instead to look to your peers for opportunity.
"What makes it exciting and what makes it worth it, is unlike a real job where you could be laid off at any time, every moment that you put into your entrepreneurial endeavor, you're building your own future," he said. "You are answering to no one but yourself."
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