Despite much hype surrounding the gig economy, just 2% of college grads expect to start their careers as freelancers or contractors. But since it takes the average graduate 6-9 months to land a full-time – freelancing or starting an online business can be a good alternative. Freelancing or starting a small business could not only help recent graduates gain valuable experience, but it may also lead to full-time work.
Ivanna Diaz Hansen worked an Avon business throughout college and decided to continue her business full-time after graduation as she wanted more flexibility and earnings than a typical entry-level job could offer. Ivanna worked her way up to lead a team of over 100 other Representatives in California within a few years of graduating. Below, Ivanna offers advice for would-be entrepreneurs.
What are some of the greatest advantages and disadvantages of working for yourself?
An advantage of working for myself is that I have the flexibility to plan out my entire schedule. I love having the freedom to take vacations, go out with friends, and be with my loved ones. I don’t have anyone hovering over me or ordering me around. The nice thing about having your own business is that you get to choose – you can pursue it part-time or full-time.
One disadvantage is that when you work for yourself, you need self-discipline. You’ll be responsible for all components of your business- product, marketing, customer service, etc. To address this, I recommend having a goal in mind. Whether you want to buy a new car, move out of your parents’ house, or have money for savings, you’ll need to know what your ‘why’ is. When you know what you’re working for, you’ll be more focused and have the drive that’s needed to be successful. Your business may take some time to become successful, but it’s worth it! Depending on the time and effort you put in, your business may take anywhere from 1-5 years to develop. However, it’s perfect for anyone going to school. I started my Avon business when I was 18. By the time I graduated, I already had a successful business that was paying the bills and providing me extra earnings for my social life!
How does one know that he or she is cut out for entrepreneurship?
No one is born an entrepreneur. It may take a long time to figure out if it’s right for you. A lot of people tend to give up easily, and they quit before giving themselves the chance to develop as leaders. You won’t realize your full potential until you take time to nurture your business. Whether you like to talk to people face-to-face or you like to sit behind a computer or phone, anyone can be an entrepreneur- you just need to tell yourself that you’re able and you CAN do it!
Can you offer some marketing tips for millennials who may not have funds for advertising?
Nowadays, you can market to anyone without having to pay for advertising. With platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, there is no need to pay extra. Many influencers started out by just posting photos and making videos of their talent, product, or service, using the same social media sites everyone else uses. Take advantage of what you already have and use it in a way that can benefit your business. Another tip is to be yourself when sharing the product that you love; people will naturally become drawn to you. People want to hear from someone unique that talks with them, not at them.
For those wanting to start their own business, which steps should they take to increase their chances of success?
- Surround yourself with like-minded people. They will keep you accountable and you’ll be more motivated to continue on with your business. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. With my Avon business, all my team members and other Avon Representatives work together to help each other grow.
- Take advantage of all the tools you have. Whether it’s company tools that are provided to you, seminars or classes that are coming up or online tools, you’ll become a better leader and become more knowledgeable when you involve yourself and learn all that you can.
- Remember why you started in the first place. There are going to be times when it’s going to get tough. However, when you remind yourself of why you started in the first place, you’ll be more likely to stick it out and overcome challenges.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an entrepreneur and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I’ve encountered as an entrepreneur is the attitude I get from others because of my age. Many times, when I’m sharing the opportunity or sharing a catalog with strangers, they don’t take me seriously because I don’t look like I know what I’m talking about. I have had my business for 7 years and recently turned 25. I go through many obstacles trying to fit in with a more mature crowd, yet still trying to get people my age to consider products, which gets frustrating at times. You wouldn’t approach a 40-year-old businesswoman the same way you’d approach a 21-year-old college student. The important thing to do is know your audience. If you are trying to seek a particular group of people, see what their interests are and pursue them in a way that they will understand; they will more likely be interested in what you’re offering.