Good advice for young people starting a business

Billionaire Mark Cuban was just 12 years old when he launched his first side hustle, so he knows what it takes to start a business at a young age.

And he says it’s a simple thing to consider if you want to do it, too.

“The key to starting a business when you’re young is to do things you can do yourself — things you can do with your own time,” Cuban recently told a group of high school students at Lewisville High School in Texas.

That means starting with what you know, he noted.

“If it̵[ads1]7;s a product, make something that’s easy for you to get and easy for you to sell,” Cuban said, adding, “It really comes down to one simple thing. The best businesses are things you can control and do it yourself. That’s what being an entrepreneur is all about.”

Cuban got an early start learning how to run his own business as a pre-teen selling trash bags door-to-door in a Pittsburgh suburb. He later sold a variety of collectibles, from baseball cards to coins and stamps, and said the proceeds helped pay for his school fees.

In each of these cases, Cuban used household items and collectibles available to a child and sold them for a profit — following his own advice to teenagers today.

Similarly, as a student he worked as a bartender and taught dance classes to earn extra money. Cuban later showed off his dancing skills publicly by appearing on “Dancing With the Stars” in 2007, finishing eighth in the competition.

“I was a hustler … I always sold. I always had something going on. It was just my nature,” Cuban said during a 2016 episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank.”

Now, Cuban says he regularly tells kids and teenagers who want to start their own businesses to do what he did. Build around “something they can make or a service they can offer to their friends, family and neighbors,” he told CNBC Make It in September.

Of course, that’s easier said than done: Succeeding in launching and developing your own business is notoriously challenging. About 20% of new businesses fail within a year of launching, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Being an entrepreneur and starting a business doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy and all of a sudden you’re making a lot of money,” Cuban told students at Lewisville High School. “Being an entrepreneur is the harder way.”

If it were easy, he added, “you all would have already done it and come on ‘Shark Tank’ and take my spot.”

Finding something you can control and do yourself is hard enough. It’s much harder to get good at it – which, by the way, is Cuban rule #1 for making money.

It involves extensive research on your business plan and potential competition, seeking financing and creating backup plans to allow flexibility if you need to adjust on the fly, the billionaire has previously said.

As long as you don’t mind putting in that work, especially after you’ve chosen your business opportunity, a world of opportunities can open up for you, Cuban told the high school students.

“If you are willing to take the initiative and start a business, anything is possible,” he said.

Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank.”

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Good advice for young people starting a business

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