For young people, entrepreneurship is the new 9 to 5 job: 60% of teens say they want to start their own business instead of working a traditional job.
However, due to the uncertainty that business owners have faced over the past two years, Gen Zers may benefit from learning from professionals who have managed to thrive during and after the height of the pandemic.
Jane Labovich, also known as Princess Etch, is a 30-year-old Etch a Sketch artist who uses a mechanical drawing toy to create intricate portraits and landscapes. For the past 6 years her art has been her main source of income.
Jane Labovich stands next to her art in the museum.
Prior to the pandemic, Labovitch earned part of her income by giving face-to-face classes and seminars. But after using social media in 2020, she was able to increase that income and then some others.
“When [the pandemic] The first time it happened, I was terrified,” says Labovich in an interview with CNBC Make It. “I immediately lost several jobs and the number of email correspondents I had about promising projects just disappeared. But if there’s one thing I’ve done during the pandemic, it’s been consistent. Because thanks to the magic of the Internet, I was able to work with a global audience.”
According to Labovich, here are three things aspiring business owners should keep in mind:
Social media strategy
Labovich says social media is a great tool for building a brand and showcasing what your business has to offer. She uses platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Discord, and Twitch to grow her company’s online presence.
“I consider everything that I post online as a kind of advertisement for my services. I advertise myself with every piece of my work because you never know who will see it. you never know if what you did two years ago will get the right look and lead to an interesting email in your inbox.”
Labovitch originally started showcasing her art on Myspace in 2007, but more recently she has stepped up her TikTok presence by hosting live streams of her painting process. Her viewers were then able to send her cash tips on the app and connect with her more personally.
These live streams not only helped her build an online presence with over 200,000 subscribers, but also helped her earn enough money to pay off the last $13,484.58 of her student loans.
“TikTok roses are the lowest denomination currency you can donate live, and the streamer gets the equivalent of a halfpenny per rose,” says Labovich. “So I did the math and found that I needed 2,696,916 roses.”
“It took me exactly 30 days and 117 hours of live streaming to raise enough money. It took my whole life for the whole of April. And I created a whole new, really passionate fan base of people who just really wanted to support me. and my business.”
Find a good, reliable accountant
There are benefits to being your own boss, but there are also potential pitfalls, the main one being financial. When people go into entrepreneurship, content creation, or freelancing, many don’t realize the increased financial responsibility they will have.
From filing taxes to documenting and controlling income and expenses, a trusted accountant can play a vital role in the long-term success of a business.
“If there’s one thing I would recommend any entrepreneur do and go broke, it’s an accountant,” says Labovich. “It’s worth every penny for the peace of mind knowing that my accountant will cross out the T’s and dot the I’s better than I ever could.”
Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart
The path to a successful business is non-linear. It may take months for some, while other entrepreneurs take years to start their business from scratch.
Despite these different time frames, the common denominator for all business owners is preparation. According to Labovich, many aspects of early entrepreneurship are not for the “faint-hearted,” including the lack of health insurance, funding, and “instability.”
“I live in a domestic partnership with my boyfriend because of health insurance,” she says. “And I know so many entrepreneurs who are in the same position as me but don’t have that opportunity, or their partners don’t work in companies where a home partnership is enough. I know [several people] who married for health insurance reasons.”
“I also needed to learn about cost of sales and just calculate not only how much I should be charging overall, but how much I should be charging to make sure it was a sustainable venture for me. So I didn’t dive into a full-time entrepreneurship, I got into it easily.”
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