24-Year-Old Founder Of A 7-Figure Company Told Us The Most Important Connection To Make In College If You Want To Start A Business
Born in Long Island, New York to a firefighting father and a journalist mother, Richard Lorenzen’s interest in entrepreneurship and his drive to achieve led him to an online business venture at the age of 15. Ten short years later and Lorenzen is now one of the Top 50 Digital Marketing Influencers of 2016 according to Entrepreneur Magazine, a top Millennial influencer according to LinkedIn and Inc Magazine named him one of the Top 8 Entrepreneurs on Twitter.
Today, he’s the CEO of Fifth Avenue Brands, a public relations and digital media firm he founded.
Lorenzen is the latest to contribute to our Ask A Young Entrepreneur series and talked to us about his experience in business as a teen, his failures and successes, the most important college connections to make, and his advice to others just starting out.
When did you first realize “this business idea is going to work”?
The great thing about starting a service business is that it’s relatively low-cost to begin offering a service and acquire your first client. With that said, it takes time to build a reputation that allows you to charge increasingly larger fees. So although I started acquiring some clients within the first month or two of starting my agency, which proved that there were clients who wanted what I sold, it probably took about a year to get to a point where we had decent cashflow.
How many times did you fail before finding something that worked?
Fifth Avenue Brands isn’t the only company I’ve started. In fact, I’ve been involved with many other startups over the years– some failed and some worked. When I started my agency as a teenager, the internet was just starting to really take off a platform for businesses (especially small businesses) to sell serious amounts of product. So I was learning things like coding, SEO and digital marketing very early on the in the game. I would test out my new skills by launching all different types of websites and seeing what worked and what didn’t. This also helped me to figure out successful marketing models that we were later able to implement for clients.
The most important point I would make about this question though is that it isn’t about how many companies you need to start before you find one that works. That’s the wrong approach. Many new entrepreneurs mistakenly think that when their new venture fails, it’s simply because they didn’t find the right venture yet. But 90% of the time, the venture failed because of the founder, not the business model. Entrepreneurs suffer from shiny object syndrome. They start a venture, give it 2-3 months (or less!) to see how it works out and if they aren’t making money, they fold up and move onto the next shiny objective or trendy business opportunity. What I’ve found in my own personal experience is that it’s not about finding the right venture. It’s about choosing one venture and sticking to it for as long as it takes to be successful. You need to give it time and constantly improve your business model and systems. Do that long enough and good things start happening.