[Executive Edge] 6 no-nonsense tips for youth entrepreneurs

Rosario Herrera wants to change all that. Through Status, which is both a print and online magazine, Herrera is aiming to prove that upstart publications can prosper in the country, so long as they provide compelling content to their intended audience.

Who is Herrera’s target demographic? It’s readers interested in “Asia’s youth culture,” particularly as it relates to “fashion, music, art, and urban lifestyles.” Naturally, Herrera often finds herself engaging with the youth in the Philippines about how they, too, can pursue their dreams as entrepreneurs.

I collated her wisdom into 6 key points. Much of her advice is straightforward, but the fact that a seasoned entrepreneur like her is saying them – Herrera owns Greyone Social in Greenbelt 5 and the online platform StyleStar.ph – shows that they bear repeating.

1. Get over your fear of rejection

I was introduced to Herrera through Paul Rivera, the co-founder and CEO of Kalibrr – someone from a totally different industry than hers. (Kalibrr seeks to use machine learning to change how companies select who to interview and hire.) One of my first questions to Herrera was thus: How can young entrepreneurs expand and broaden their professional networks?

She believes that the problem, perhaps, especially for Filipinos, is that they are too demure. “Most of the time people avoid connecting with other people because they have a fear of rejection,” she said. “But it hardly ever happens in real life. Young entrepreneurs should go out and build relationships with people of value. Its always good to have amazing people in your life whether they can contribute to your business or not."

2. Plan, plan again, and plan some more

When I asked how young entrepreneurs can discover which business they would like to pursue, Herrera invoked her early struggles with Status. “I was pretty naive starting a magazine independently,” she confessed. “But if I knew back then what I know now, I’m not sure I would have started StatusStatus is a combination of both vision, passion, drive, sleepless nights, long hours, and hard work.”

As a result, she emphasized the need to plan, especially as it comes to finances, so as to make the entrepreneurial journey “a bit smoother.”

“I wish I had known how much money it was going to burn,” she said with a laugh. “But seriously, I really do wish I had better financial planning. Finance could be the difference between ending your entrepreneurial journey before you take off or soaring into the clouds.”

3. Make what you share count

We’re all guilty of over-sharing on Facebook or Twitter at one point or another. Herrera cautions against bringing this tendency over to the social media accounts of your startup.

“I think for social media, people over-think it,” she said. “It’s essential that your business or brand participates in the conversation, and it's happening in social media.”

She emphasized, however, that entrepreneurs need to “avoid polluting the social media timeline.” She said, “You have a few seconds to communicate with everyone, make sure that whatever you share counts.”

4. Realize that you are your brand

In the age of Facebook and Twitter, entrepreneurs become the de facto face of their brand, according to Herrera. She said, “For personal branding, entrepreneurs need to understand that they are their brand.”

As a result, young entrepreneurs need to be aware of how they portray themselves, and this often comes down to simply watching what you post on your personal social media accounts, so that you embody confidence. 

“They need to think past their desk and think about their company in a holistic way,” she explained. “Business owners should encompass the same confidence in themselves that they want other people to have about their business.”

5. Become an expert at what you do

Herrera said, “If you want to make this into your career, become an expert at it.” She herself is a living embodiment of this mantra. Before starting Status, she had been immersing herself in the fashion industry for over 10 years. Style, of course, is one of the major areas that Status covers.

“I used to dress celebrities and models. I styled TV commercials, print ads, fashion shoots, and other projects that needed a stylist,” she said. Eventually, this expertise slowly but surely segued toward entrepreneurship. 

She recalled, “Towards the end of my styling I started a T-shirt line called Tru Youth with my brother, which developed into my menswear boutique Greyone Social (in Greenbelt 5). Soon after, my brother and I started Status Magazine.”

Mastering the ins and outs of your particular niche will allow you to excel at what Herrera says is an absolute necessity: “Knowing how to sell and market your business.”

6. Just jump in

Even if you plan extensively (see point 2), there will still be uncertainties. Nonetheless, you still need to make the leap into entrepreneurship at some point. To govern both your day-to-day decision-making and big picture thinking, Herrera had her own personal business philosophy to share:

“Make your own rules. And be willing to work hard for what you want. What I’ve learned is that there is so much opportunity out there and no one is stopping you. Literally, no one is holding you down. There is always a solution to a problem. So whatever it is you want to accomplish, just go do it. It may be harder than what you thought, but at least you’re doing it.” – Rappler.com

Rappler business columnist Ezra Ferraz graduated from UC Berkeley and the University of Southern California, where he taught writing for 3 years. He now consults full-time for educational companies in the United States. He brings you Philippine business leaders, their insights, and their secrets via Executive Edge. Follow him on Twitter: @EzraFerraz