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How Young People Can Start and Grow Businesses

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How Young People Can Start and Grow Businesses

By Marie Johns, Former Deputy Administrator
Published: November 9, 2011 Updated: August 6, 2015

On Monday I met Ryan Poortinga, who owns San Diego Sky Tours in San Diego, California.  When Ryan graduated from college, he couldn't find a job, so he created his own job.  With counseling from an SBA resource partner, he and a friend started San Diego Sky Tours.  They give private, custom tours of San Diego by air.  The business has been so successful that they are already hiring their first employee and planning on expanding or even franchising.

Ryan is a perfect example of the next generation of entrepreneurs that are growing businesses and creating the jobs we need.  His story is proof that young people don't need to wait to go into business.  You don't need a business degree or backing from investors--all you need is an idea.

I was in San Diego for the first of SBA's Young Entrepreneur Series (YES) events.  We started YES to put more tools in the hands of entrepreneurs like Ryan, and let them know that no matter what they need, they have a partner in the SBA.  To get our economy moving again, we have to support the next generation of entrepreneurs.  YES is a way of doing that.

The San Diego event had a particular focus on young veterans.  Young people are coming home from serving our country in increasing numbers, and it is essential that they have every possible opportunity to start a business and take hold of the American dream.  I wrote more about what SBA and the Obama administration are doing to support veteran entrepreneurs in a post yesterday.

Today, YES heads to Ames, Iowa, for an event focused on rural entrepreneurs.  You can watch the event live at 6:00pm CST at, and read more about YES at




About the Author:

Marie Johns

Former Deputy Administrator

Marie Johns is a former Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. 


Ryan has in inspiring story, that is similar to mine. I started a PC repair business shortly after graduating,
Creating the idea is important part of being an entrepreneur. But moving on idea and working on it is the hardest part. Lots of young people have great ideas but have no strong to move.
Its really nice to hear about people who have created successful businesses. I am a stay at home mom and I'm hoping to create something successful as well.
Great example and I strongly agree that young people should be encouraged to go into business from a young age. There are so many recent examples of great businesses started by school and college leavers and I hope this tradition continues.
Young people are now up to getting the best of their skills by creating ideas and different aspects that let them grow and learn their businesses very well. I guess most of our Entrepreneurs these days are youngsters and they are really getting something than what we used to be in our businesses. Texas MCE
I will be graduating in the spring and have had the opportunity to become involved in a few small businesses in my 4 years in college. Every entrepreneur will tell you that you will learn as much from a failed business as you will a successful one, if not more. This was something that I learned the hard way more than once, and I have come to appreciate the people who can create a successful business straight out of college. My caveat to this is that from my experience, I think you will be most successful if you work full-time after graduation for a short time, go back for an advanced degree, and then pursue entrepreneurial ambitions. It is terribly difficult to start a successful business and I applaud the people who have been able to accomplish this directly out of college; however, it is difficult to put a value on tangible experience, and I know that I have personally progressed a very long way after 8 months of two full-time internships. Like the other people reading this blog, I also have entrepreneurial ambitions; however, I have found the industry I want to enter and have spent the past few months learning as much as I can while working for two different companies in the space and plan to use those skills if I have the chance to pursue my ambitions after I get my MBA.
As a young people, we must use the technology in our business. If we have the expertise in technology, it will be very helpful. But if not, we can hire someone else to do that part. Technology is helping us in promoting and developing the business. If we do not take advantage of technology to the maximum, most likely we will getting bankruptcy and I'm sure no body want that to happen to the business that they have.
Ryan has in inspiring story, that is similar to mine. I started a PC repair business shortly after graduating, and it's going well. I wish luck to anyone out there looking to start a business. Take advantage of the resources available to you =)
This is truely inspiring to read. As a young college student it seems like there is a push for students to work in large corporate settings. Often discouraged from dreaming big it appears that searching for work in corporate sector is the only way to be successful. SBA's YES invests in the part of the economy that will expand jobs. Corporates use M&A to shrink an economy and become efficient. Start ups, like Ryan's business, grow an economy by generating jobs in a sector where there were none before. Hats of to Ryan. I hope YES can help to create many more of these start ups.
I think it is exciting, to see creative new ideas of businesses coming from the next generation to create jobs. In our current, it is not the same as the economy 60 years ago where entrepreneurs were opening businesses at every corner. We are currently faced with, buildings already built which need to be occupied by new busineses. It is up to the younger and new generation to keep developing new business ideas. With the help of SBA, and the example of Ryan finding success this should give more people motivation totake advtange of all the help SBA is offering.


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