Matthew and Adam Toren have some career advice for young people today: if you want a great job, start a great company. The Torens run YoungEntrepreneur.com, one of the Web's best sites for practical advice on starting, running, promoting and growing a business, aimed primarily at ambitious Millennials. Their first book, Kidpreneurs (which I reviewed at FastCompany.com), managed to distill business lessons into a concise, readable childrens book. Their latest is called Small Business, Big Vision (Wiley, 2011), and it weaves inspirational stories with hands-on guidance to motivate and educate the next generation of successful small business entrepreneurs.
Adam Toren recently sat for an interview to discuss the goals and purpose of their latest book.
What can readers expect to take away from Small Business, BIG Vision?
When we set out
to write the book, it was important to us to provide entrepreneurial readers
with the information they need most. We looked at the most common questions we
hear from entrepreneurs – whether they’re just starting out or have been in
business for a long time – and we provided answers in the book that are
designed to really give the reader the advice and guidance they’re looking for.
Small Business, BIG Vision answers
questions like, “Do I need a business plan?” “Do I need outside financing, and
how do I find it?” and “How do I know if it’s the right time to hire employees?”
We also covered how to use social media to market your business, how to become
a recognized expert in your field, and how to turn around a struggling
provides practical, useful advice on these topics and more, and then it backs up
the advice with profiles of some of the most successful entrepreneurs out
there. Each chapter has advice and lessons from self-made entrepreneurs who
have been wherever the reader is now. It’s very relatable and timely.
You and your brother, Matthew, have been
entrepreneurs your whole lives. How did you get started?
Joe, was instrumental in getting us interested in business ownership. When we
were in elementary school, he set us up selling these little glider airplanes
called Dipper Dos at a local folk festival. We learned how to really wow the
crowd with the tricks we could make the planes do, and we sold out quickly. It
was a great feeling for a couple of 7 and 8 year old kids, and from there we
We were very
fortunate to have the full support of our grandfather and our mother throughout
our early ventures. They never told us we should just get jobs or pressured us
to avoid the risks of entrepreneurship. They encouraged us to work hard and
always do the right thing, and they always let us know they were behind us
100%. Having that kind of support ourselves is a major reason why we wrote the
We want everyone to have the opportunity we had to succeed in whatever business
they choose to start.
Given today’s economic climate, is this
really a good time to start a business?
That’s a great
question. Entrepreneurship comes with a certain amount of risk anyway, so isn’t
it crazy to go into business with the added risk of facing uncertain economic
times? We don’t think it’s crazy at all. In fact, we truly believe it’s the
smartest move anyone can make. Read or watch any news about the economy, and
you’ll eventually come across a story about the massive layoffs of the past few
years and the fact that many people are taking a year or more to find work. And
when they finally do land a job, many are settling for a position and pay far
below that of the one they left.
risk. If my only option was to get a job, and I had no income during my search,
life would be stressful and scary. No fun at all. On the other hand, with the
time most people take to find a job, and the savings they use up in that time,
I can think of 10 businesses I could start right now, and I guarantee I’d end
up in a better position financially and mentally at the end of that timeframe.
An economic climate like we’re in now is the perfect time to start a business.
From all of your experience, what are the
most important entrepreneurial lessons that you can share with our readers?
Two things: 1.)
Follow your passion, and 2.) never give up. In addition to our own experience,
my brother and I have interviewed successful business owners from all over the
world for our websites, and for Small
Business, BIG Vision; and passion and perseverance are the two factors that
stand out most clearly in the most successful entrepreneurs we’ve met.
passionate about what you’re doing, no obstacle is too big, and you never feel
like you’re working. You’ll happily put in all the hours and effort that’s
necessary to see your business thrive. Passion is the fuel that ignites your
vision. And if you have #1, passion, #2 is easy – you’re much less likely to
throw in the towel when challenges come up. We’ve never talked to a single
successful entrepreneur who built his or her business without significant
challenges, and having the perseverance to keep pushing toward their
entrepreneurial vision is what made the greatest difference for them.