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The Rise Of TikTok Entrepreneurs: How Useful Is Their Business Advice?

There’s a growing surge of TikTok entrepreneurs turning to the popular mobile app to deliver fun and accessible business tips. But how useful is their advice?

Thu May 27 2021

BusinessBecause
Short-form digital content provider, TikTok, catapulted into the lives of Gen Zers and Millennials as a form of entertainment and escapism during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the most downloaded app globally in 2020.

Although TikTok initially gained notoriety for starting viral dance trends through 15-second clips, the social media platform has increasingly seen a rise of entrepreneurial ‘influencers’ sharing their business wisdom with TikTok’s 689 million active monthly users.

Since the platform can also function as a powerful and cost-effective marketing tool for small business owners and entrepreneurs, many TikTokers are eager to maintain a strong following by providing bite-sized business tips to their audiences.

But how sound is the advice from some of the most prominent TikTok entrepreneurs? 

To find out, BusinessBecause asked entrepreneurship experts from top business schools to review the advice from three trailblazing influencers.



1. Tori Dunlap - @herfirst100k

Money expert and entrepreneur

Followers*: 1.5 million

Advice:

What mistake should you avoid as an entrepreneur?

“When I first started my business […] I was so concerned with every single part of what I thought a business should be. ‘I was like, I need a logo, I need a website, I need brand colors, what website platform do I even choose? Where [...] do I start?’ 

“And what ended up happening is that I was so concerned about how to start and where to start, that I never actually got started. We tell ourselves that things need to be absolutely perfect in order to launch or in order to start. But here's the thing, things will never ever be perfect. Done is better than perfect.”

While this business advice from Tori Dunlap—one of the top personal finance experts on TikTok and founder of financial guidance company, Her First 100k—could be applied across most industries and initiatives, it is particularly relevant to entrepreneurship. 

When starting a business, entrepreneurs need to think quickly and smartly to avoid becoming overwhelmed with minor details.

Antoine Leprêtre (pictured right), the director of Incubateur HEC Paris, the school’s incubator based at Station F, the world’s largest startup campus, wholeheartedly agrees with Tori’s statement. 

“Most people fail without even starting. Your logo and name doesn’t matter initially and will change over time. What’s critical is to understand the customers’ pain point and see how you can quickly help solve their problem,” he says.

There are plenty of tools at your disposal to make starting a business easier, such as logo templates, user-friendly websites that don’t require coding expertise, and even name generators.

“Entrepreneurship is first a mindset and an execution game to find the right resources to grow,” notes Antoine. He also suggests that only when the entrepreneur has proven that their solution fills a gap in the market should they consider the surface-level design of a business.

So, sweating over the small stuff may only prevent the growth of your venture, making this strong advice from the TikTok entrepreneur.



 2. Terrance McMahon - @terrancemcmahon

Retired CEO and best-selling author

Followers*: 249.6k

Advice:

What product should you sell?

"Get creative, what can you trade with the world? That’s the first thing, and that’s a service most likely, an information service ideally or consulting. Google [...] what you’re thinking in your head, and you’re going to come up with some reviews. 

“Look at the companies and look at two things. Look at the bad reviews—that’s what the industry needs, that’s what people are complaining about—and look at the good reviews. You want to take people from being unhappy in that bad place and build a program of four or five steps to make them happy. Invert the reviews into a product.”

At first glance, this advice from experienced CEO-turned-influencer Terrance McMahon seems like an original and insightful way of boosting your idea generation. But there are some caveats to consider.

Rashmi Menon (pictured right), lecturer in entrepreneurship and entrepreneur in residence at The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, says “reviews can be a good place to assess customer sentiments about an existing competitor, however, it is dangerous to use this as your primary source of data.”

She says that the danger of relying on reviews for business ideas is that these reviews can be tainted by fake reviews, paid reviews, and reviews skewed by political opinions or grudges.

As a result, entrepreneurs will need to speak with their target customer base directly to assess their needs and wants. This method offers the most effective means of understanding an audience.

Paul Cheek, lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management and entrepreneur in residence at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, says that reviews can be a good starting place for idea generation, but suggests that this advice must be approached cautiously.

“From the start, entrepreneurs need to focus on the value they can create for a very specific group of target customers,” he says. 

Entrepreneurs are unlikely to gain any in-depth insight from reviews alone, so it might be better to approach reviews at a later stage after completing market research. 


218968f182de9e9b06e54968f26946ccdc70def9.png



3. Sandy Lin - @smallbusinesstips_

Business owner and entrepreneur

Followers*: 361.4k

Advice:

Want to start a business, but don’t know what to sell?

“1. Figure out what you’re passionate in.

2. Identify a pain point in the niche.

3. Solve that pain point.

4. Do your market research to ensure there’s a need in the industry.

5. Survey your target audiences.”

TikToker Sandy Lin started a boutique lifestyle business at 19 and now has young entrepreneurs flocking to her page to hear her success story. She often breaks down her advice into simple takeaways accompanied by dance moves.

In terms of the usefulness of her advice here, Paul from MIT Sloan (pictured right) believes that focusing exclusively on what you’re passionate in for inspiration might not be the most effective way to devise a business idea.

“Entrepreneurs can start a new business from a problem they have identified, a new technology they have developed, or simply an idea they have,” he asserts. “In each case they must be passionate about the venture they’re setting out to build.”

Moreover, the order of Sandy Lin’s advice could be altered to better direct aspiring entrepreneurs.

“Primary market research with the target customer should be used early in the process. This approach allows the entrepreneur to validate that the problem is large enough before they look to solve the pain point,” says Paul.

Creating a solution in advance of identifying customer demand could lead to wasting time and money on a product that will ultimately fail.


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TikTok may not be the best resource for finding the substantial and well-researched business advice that you might expect to hear in a business school classroom. After all, there’s only so much that content creators can discuss in 60-second clips.

“Given the inherent nature of short-form content, it’s difficult to convey the nuances of specific entrepreneurial tactics that often require more personalized advice,” notes Paul from MIT Sloan.

Yet, these TikTok entrepreneurs may inspire and empower TikTok’s predominantly Gen Z and Millenial users to embark on an entrepreneurial journey of their own, or develop their existing entrepreneurial skills. 

The community of business influencers on TikTok offer a powerful and accessible support system for young entrepreneurs, and although the advice should be approached with caution, there are definitely pearls of wisdom out there.

The influencers featured in this article were contacted for comment. 


*TikTok followers accurate as of 25 May 2021


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The main article in this image was used under this license.

Student Reviews

HEC Paris

Student

Verified

7/07/2022

On Campus

Cultural experience

I have met the most competent and diverse batch in this school. These people not only thrive on their own but also makes sure that you are doing it with them. The professors will take your had and walk you through all milestones and make sure you are not left behind. I have found their extracurriculars extremely engaging. There was always a room to have social life after academic life. The only hindrance is the location of the school, it is slightly outside city and living in city is expensive.

Sarah

Verified

18/03/2022

On Campus

Internationality and diversity of opportunities

About my programme I would say it is very international and flexible: we have the opportunity to choose exactly the courses we want. But at the same time, the frame of the campus is crucial in students' life and enable us to create friendships.

Student

Verified

29/10/2021

On Campus

Great selection of people

While HEC's MBA is highly selective, I really enjoy the type of people HEC's selects to make sure everybody gets the best out of their MBA experience and networking opportunities. Not only it's an incredibly diverse pool of people (~60 nationalities) but most importantly they make sure to let in friendly empathic and curious people.

Veronique

Verified

28/10/2021

Blended

Best in France for Grande ecole

A prestigious business school. Languages ​​are important. It is better to have a scientific baccalaureate with excellent grades in high school and good assessments. The courses are well designed as per the latest trends and practicality of learning in stressed upon. Overall, a very good experience.

Ghadi

Verified

11/06/2022

On Campus

Diversity and quality of fellow students

Very international and interesting place to be and opens a lot of opportunities, however the administration is very french and facilities are subpar (gym, classrooms) meaning the academic affairs is pretty much useless and lastly we are graded on a curve which can create a toxic environment because of the competition. With that being said the pros outweighs the cons by far.

Student

Verified

27/03/2022

On Campus

The quality of the teachers, the campus, the clubs

The school is very international indeed, we have courses with international students and share things with them within the extra academic life (in the social clubs especially). We have great career prospects if we prepare ourselves well - however, the global curriculum is still very finance-oriented, which is a pity for other interesting domains of the company world, which does not rely on finance only. The social clubs are good practice for the management and for now, are quite independent.

Lb

Verified

26/03/2022

On Campus

HEC Paris awaits you

HEC Paris is really a nice place to do a master's in business. Many classes are useful and interesting (corporate finance, financial accounting, contract law…), some are less - but the curriculum is to be reviewed in the year to come. Regarding the student life, it is incredible, with about 130 clubs, lots of great parties with even greater people. The Jouy campus offers a lot of opportunities to do sports, and you can breathe fresh air every day. HEC also helps a great deal to find an internship or a job.

Rajarshi

Verified

28/10/2021

Blended

A dream institute

Enrolling in the HEC MBA was by far the best decision I made for myself. The people and faculty are great, with lots of opportunities to meet people and expand your horizons. Very nice campus where I have had some good running sessions. The alumni network is superb and very helpful. It also has a good support system for entrepreneurs. Would definitely recommend it!

Student

Verified

19/10/2021

On Campus

Good choice for a career boost

The classes were extremely practical and relevant to the current challenges that businesses are facing. You have access to a wide range of professionals and good career prospects once you leave the university.

Student

Verified

7/07/2022

On Campus

Cultural experience

I have met the most competent and diverse batch in this school. These people not only thrive on their own but also makes sure that you are doing it with them. The professors will take your had and walk you through all milestones and make sure you are not left behind. I have found their extracurriculars extremely engaging. There was always a room to have social life after academic life. The only hindrance is the location of the school, it is slightly outside city and living in city is expensive.

Sarah

Verified

18/03/2022

On Campus

Internationality and diversity of opportunities

About my programme I would say it is very international and flexible: we have the opportunity to choose exactly the courses we want. But at the same time, the frame of the campus is crucial in students' life and enable us to create friendships.

Student

Verified

29/10/2021

On Campus

Great selection of people

While HEC's MBA is highly selective, I really enjoy the type of people HEC's selects to make sure everybody gets the best out of their MBA experience and networking opportunities. Not only it's an incredibly diverse pool of people (~60 nationalities) but most importantly they make sure to let in friendly empathic and curious people.

Veronique

Verified

28/10/2021

Blended

Best in France for Grande ecole

A prestigious business school. Languages ​​are important. It is better to have a scientific baccalaureate with excellent grades in high school and good assessments. The courses are well designed as per the latest trends and practicality of learning in stressed upon. Overall, a very good experience.

Ghadi

Verified

11/06/2022

On Campus

Diversity and quality of fellow students

Very international and interesting place to be and opens a lot of opportunities, however the administration is very french and facilities are subpar (gym, classrooms) meaning the academic affairs is pretty much useless and lastly we are graded on a curve which can create a toxic environment because of the competition. With that being said the pros outweighs the cons by far.

Student

Verified

27/03/2022

On Campus

The quality of the teachers, the campus, the clubs

The school is very international indeed, we have courses with international students and share things with them within the extra academic life (in the social clubs especially). We have great career prospects if we prepare ourselves well - however, the global curriculum is still very finance-oriented, which is a pity for other interesting domains of the company world, which does not rely on finance only. The social clubs are good practice for the management and for now, are quite independent.

Lb

Verified

26/03/2022

On Campus

HEC Paris awaits you

HEC Paris is really a nice place to do a master's in business. Many classes are useful and interesting (corporate finance, financial accounting, contract law…), some are less - but the curriculum is to be reviewed in the year to come. Regarding the student life, it is incredible, with about 130 clubs, lots of great parties with even greater people. The Jouy campus offers a lot of opportunities to do sports, and you can breathe fresh air every day. HEC also helps a great deal to find an internship or a job.

Rajarshi

Verified

28/10/2021

Blended

A dream institute

Enrolling in the HEC MBA was by far the best decision I made for myself. The people and faculty are great, with lots of opportunities to meet people and expand your horizons. Very nice campus where I have had some good running sessions. The alumni network is superb and very helpful. It also has a good support system for entrepreneurs. Would definitely recommend it!

Student

Verified

19/10/2021

On Campus

Good choice for a career boost

The classes were extremely practical and relevant to the current challenges that businesses are facing. You have access to a wide range of professionals and good career prospects once you leave the university.

Student

Verified

1/06/2024

On Campus

Diverse

HEC, as an academic institution, serves as a launching pad for students to excel in their pursuits and careers. The diversity among students and professors is truly remarkable. The chance to attend seminars across five major continents is unparalleled. The exposure and relationships it fosters are invaluable.

Student

Verified

31/05/2024

On Campus

Super diverse

It's a super diverse and fascinating environment with tons of chances, but the management is very French, and the facilities like the gym and classrooms are not great. This makes the academic side quite ineffective. Plus, we're graded on a curve, leading to a competitive and sometimes toxic atmosphere. Despite all that, the benefits definitely overshadow the drawbacks.

John

Verified

10/06/2024

On Campus

Surreal academic experience

What stood out to me about HEC was the direction and insight it offered on coding approaches. Prior to joining the program, I attempted self-learning, but I felt disoriented and lacked a starting point.HEC enabled me to grasp the basics of programming and provided support when I encountered obstacles. Without that guidance, I doubt I would have achieved the progress I have made to date.

John

Verified

10/06/2024

On Campus

Good security

HEC boasts a dedicated team of security personnel who undergo rigorous training to ensure the perpetual maintenance of tranquility and orderliness within the institution. Their unwavering efforts are directed towards fostering a sense of security among the student body, thereby enabling them to channel their energies predominantly towards their academic pursuits.

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