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How to Start a Business Before Age 25


At only 24 years old, Richard Zelson already knows the ins and outs of running his own business. Earlier this year, the young entrepreneur launched MyStream, a mobile device app that allows users to listen to music simultaneously with the people around them.

We asked Zelson for his top tips for starting a business under the age of 25.

While he wanted an investment banking job, Zelson said the one he landed instead — at a small real estate firm — helped set up his career for success, because it provided him with a necessary foundation for an eventual journey into entrepreneurship.

"This turned out to be one of the best opportunities of my life," Zelson said. "I was able to learn the ins and outs of running a small business, and that hands-on experience directly helped me turn my idea into a functioning product and ongoing business."

As an economics major, Zelson said it was critical for him to create a team environment with an open communication structure where everyone’s interests were aligned.

"This way, everyone can work on their own tasks in a parallel path with the same end goal in mind, to support the success of the company," he said.

[Read also 'Music Sharing Takes on New Meaning with New App ']

Zelson said first-time entrepreneurs need to be prepared to take an offer that is less than ideal in order to at least get the ball rolling.

"Remember, though, that the experience you can gain from your first venture can be an invaluable asset for any future ideas that you may have," he said. "There is a lot to learn about running a business that you can not know until you try."

Zelson believes it is critical that before going to investors, young entrepreneurs know everything there is about their product and the industry.

"You need to have thought of every possible question that may be asked, and have a good answer for each," Zelson said. "This goes for both the business idea and the people involved."

It is necessary to put a team together that has strengths in areas that the entrepreneur may not. Zelson said the success of a company hinges on the abilities and professionalism of the team as a whole.

"At the end of the day, you are only as good as the people you work with," Zelson said.  "If you create a weak team, then you will have a weak product, but if you have a great team, then your potential is unlimited."

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.