Being a young entrepreneur definitely has its advantages, but there are also downsides.
Telling your friends and parents about your venture will be one of the many hurdles you face as a young entrepreneur. As a young founder, particularly at a non-technical startup, it's extraordinarily tough to earn credibility. In a people-facing business where you're often relying on first impressions to succeed, it's even more difficult.
Although age is just a number, it does pose a variety of challenges for budding entrepreneurs. Here are some of the greatest adversities and how to overcame them:
1. Being taken seriously. Alot of people won't just believe you can deliver . The trick is to never give anyone a reason to think you can't do it. As a young entrepreneur, you have to work harder to prove yourself. You'll never be perfect, and you will make mistakes along the way. Fail gracefully, learn from your mistakes and address them with maturity. Confidence, coupled with unwavering humility, goes a long way.
2. Securing funding. For young entrepreneurs starting out, my first piece of advice would be to aim for a business that doesn't need a lot of capital, as it's really difficult to gain access to finances, especially with banks. Unlike VCs and angels, they require extensive personal credibility and financial history. However, launching a business that requires little cash to start up is not always possible. Brainstorm ideas and see what business ideas you can come up with.
The best tip would be to work your assets. The easiest route is family and friends. Pitch yourself, your smarts and your dedication in hopes they will support your financially. Even if they're not willing or able to directly invest money, they might consider signing on a loan with you to help boost your credibility with banks.
Another option for young entrepreneurs, especially those with poor credit or launching their first company, is to look at companies that deal with "high risk" people. Keep in mind, these companies may provide capital but tend to have high interest rates.
3. Build a Portfolio This is the most critical of the steps. You need a backing, a calling card, proof that you can deliver as a first time entrepreneur to potential clients. Validation is key. You need to have a portfolio, a case study, an example of what it is that you are trying to sell that you have delivered in the past.
4. Build a Reputation When you begin working with others, focus on maintaining the highest quality of customer service possible, create the best product possible, and make sure to really learn your clients. I am not just talking about their businesses! Learn about them. What do they like? What are they into? What are their passions? What can you learn from them?
5. Use the Networks of Others Circling back from above, use the networks of your first customers to your advantage. Odds are, most entrepreneurs know other entrepreneurs. Most executives know other executives. Most sales people know others in sales. We all talk and network with one another, especially in the same verticals, when it comes to our industries. Odds are, that means they know your exact target audience, since you're already working with them.
6. Dress the Part I am not suggesting that you should be showing up to new customer meetings in a tuxedo, but don't dress as many young individuals do. It is proven that when you dress well, people take you seriously, no matter how young or old that you are.Do the same. Dress how you would want people to treat you and to think of you. Show that you care about yourself as much as you care about your new business venture and your customers.
7. Leverage Your Young Age to Your Advantage Reporters and bloggers love telling stories of young people doing positive things. People love this, because it is that classic underdog story; it is the story of someone doing something most people dream about doing. And above all, it makes a great story. Leverage this to your advantage for free advertising, free word of mouth, and free traction, which you cannot leverage later on life. This is an opportunity of a lifetime for some – use it.
The path of an entrepreneur is never easy, but youth poses added difficulties. Rise above them, and you will be an even more impressive entrepreneur for it. What challenges have you faced as a young entrepreneur? Let us know below.
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