The best time to start a business is while you are still in school. High School, College or even Middle School. The younger the better and I here's why.
Having the ability to be creative enough to follow through on an "Idea", seeing the opportunity and put energy behind the execution answers practically every question a hiring manager will have about your ability and experience. Not to mention the great story you can tell about that process (Wins and loses).
If you asked entrepreneurs over the age of 50 what was their first job, they most likely will tell you they delivered papers, cut lawns, shoved snow or baby sat. They will also proudly tell you how they scaled those businesses in their neighborhoods.
Starting a business at an early age, especially in todays world, the point of entry isn't as labor intensive and can be done practically from your cell phone.
A few years ago, I had two high school seniors walk into my office and try to sell me their "Social Media Management" services. Their pitch was not on their expertise of social media because they where young and I am old and don't understand the channels, they both followed me on Instagram and Linkedin so that that is how we connected.
They pitched me on the value of my time. "How much is your time worth to you Mr Thompson". Brilliant.
They created a business on trading time. They saw a need for business owners that were consumer facing and who were in the weeds with operating their businesses and didn't have the bandwidth or perhaps skills to utilize social media to grow their business organically or through paid ads on Facebook and Instagram. Personal trainers, dentist, gyms, bars, night clubs, restaurants, hair salons, etc.
Their focus was on a matrix of how much time and energy they could save your business if you used them to manage your social media accounts. As a business owner you know the most valuable asset you have is your time.
I sat with them for an hour or so as I was fascinated with their story and unfortunately for them, I peppered them with questions on how they started and grew their business to over $500,000 in under two years. The business was growing so fast that they both decided not to attend college right now and pursue the business. They were growing faster than they couldn't keep up and were hiring their High School friends as Independent Contractors to help manage their accounts plus looking to expand to South Florida because one of their grandparents had a home there.
As they signed new clients, they recruited more friends. The figured out the formula to manage their expenses and not get buried in payroll.
The best part was utilizing one of their teachers to help set up an LLC who in turn recommended a local attorney who filed their incorporation paperwork for pro-bono and helped them get the filing cost paid for by a local non profit. The attorney in turn recommended an accountant to do they same and provide free advice on write offs, provide a basic understanding of business tax laws, quickbooks and IC employee contract templates, client contract templates along with W-9 forms.
They used the schools membership to a website development software to build their site, the schools A/V club to produce a video and another school friend that created a great logo. They had $0 start up costs plus no overhead as they lived and worked from home, their cars and coffee shops.
Teachers, professors, local business professionals, non profits, economic/career development associations, incubators, etc are all available and wanting to help young entrepreneurs. They also have the resources available at little to no cost, if you ask and do some research.
Understanding how a business works, managing client relationships, employees and cash flow are unmeasurable skill sets that lay the foundation for a career regardless if you work for a major corporation or own a hair salon.
So regardless if you are passionate about social media management services or sneakers, start a business that doesn't feel like work, something that you are passionate about doing in your free time regardless if you make $1, figure it out, make mistakes and be sure to ask for help and advice.
Your time is your only investment.
Good Luck- Rob