Youth biz

Earlier this month, Karen Mills of the U.S. Small Business Administration visited the Chamber building for a roundtable discussion on young entrepreneurship. She met with representatives of the Chamber’s Denver Metro Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and young entrepreneurs to discuss ways the SBA can better reach and support young business people.

In 2011, the SBA, in collaboration with the White House, introduced the Young Entrepreneurs Series to help educate young people about the resources available for starting a small business. The White House reports that youth unemployment is at a record high, and the SBA is helping address that issue with its young entrepreneur outreach efforts. Yesterday’s meeting, and others like it in various cities, was a continuation of those efforts.

A 2011 survey of 1,635 young people from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) reported that 23 percent of respondents started a business because they were unemployed. Of the survey respondents who were not self-employed, 76 percent reported that lack of resources and/or lack of government/financial support were their top reasons for not starting a business. Only 21 percent reported no interest in starting a business. Thirty-six percent of respondents reported working at a side business, a group of people the YEC calls “sidepreneurs.”

Well-known young entrepreneurs include Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Chad Hurley of YouTube, and the Next Bigger Better Society published a list of the Top 20 Youth Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2012. These young people are proof that age is not a barrier to starting a successful business.

It was also interesting to learn that these young entrepreneurs are eligible to have their student loans aligned with the lower salary that might come in those few first years of business. To learn more about this program, you can visit the federal student loan website.

Our own Denver Metro SBDC supports entrepreneurs of all ages and provides consulting and training services that can help all business owners. We had about 10 local young entrepreneurs in the meeting yesterday, and it was great to hear how valuable our services were to them. Please help ensure every person in Colorado who might be considering starting a new business knows about the FREE (yes, free) consulting and financial support we offer.

The Denver Metro SBDC was recently named the top SBDC in the country by the U.S. SBA, and Executive Director Tameka Montgomery will travel to Washington, D.C., during Small Business Week May 21-25 to accept the honor. She will also receive an honorary doctorate from Johnson & Wales University on May 18. Read more about Tameka, and visit to access valuable small business resources.