The Sharing Movement: Breakthrough for Teen Entrepreneurs

Bootstrapping.

Lean iteration.

Crowdsourcing.

All three of these terms have become buzzwords recently, as part of a growing movement of entrepreneurship that seeks to get to market quickly, committing to as little initial infrastructure and investment as possible. The idea is to test potential business models by borrowing or renting resources, and creating product in small batches before committing to larger investments of time and money.

This is a model that hasn’t always been possible, but several notable advances in technology are enabling such lean startups to exist, timing that is ideal for all of you Biz Kids!

There’s an interesting new business near Biz Kid$’ hometown called Stew’s Garage. The startup rents out garage bays for auto repair and maintenance. Hourly rental includes tools, repair manuals, and Wifi. The model is perfect for aspiring mechanics looking to hone their skills without equipping an expensive garage for themselves.

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I recently visited an incredible place called TechShop in San Francisco. TechShop is what it would look like if your grandfather’s workshop got in a time machine, arrived in the future, then decided to share itself with the world. For $125 per month, members get access to over $1 million in equipment. 3D printers, woodworking tools, cutting edge digital technology and more, all at your fingertips for no additional charge. When I visited, I saw multiple entrepreneurs building prototypes of inventions. What once would have cost tens of thousands of dollars to have a factory create overseas can now be made on a shared 3D printer for a $125 monthly membership fee. I left wishing in lived in the Bay Area.

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Cloud technology is also reducing costs for entrepreneurs. Did your business just take off? You can now increase the storage capacity of your computer or bandwidth of your website with a moment’s notice. The servers and hard drives still exist, but are being shared among thousands of businesses through the “cloud.”

Need an office space? There are dozens of shared office spaces opening up around the country, designed for entrepreneurs looking for something nicer than a coffee shop without signing a formal lease with a landlord.

These are just a few examples of new technology that enables bootstrapping. You, as a young entrepreneur, are in the right place at the right time. Think you have an idea that’s too expensive to make happen? Think again. Do some research and ask around. You just may find that $100,000 tool available to you for a few bucks, or a building at your fingertips for the price of a cup of coffee.