Being an entrepreneur is undoubtedly difficult at any age, but the reality is that younger individuals may face even more challenges simply because of their age. As an entrepreneur, you must struggle to find a competitive edge for your business and get your company established in a tough marketplace. However, in addition to all of the typical challenges that an entrepreneur may face, you may also face age-related challenges that make it difficult for you to be successful and secure in a competitive business climate. These are some of the most significant disadvantages that you may face as a younger entrepreneur.
Financing Your Venture
Most entrepreneurs struggle to get the funding they need to successfully launch and grow their business. One of the most common steps that entrepreneurs take to get financing is to seek financiers and investors. However, you will need to develop an amazing business plan and deliver an impressive sales pitch in order to obtain the money that you need.
Some entrepreneurs will use their own capital to fund their venture. However, this is even more challenging for younger entrepreneurs in many cases because of their limited means. In addition, some younger entrepreneurs may still have student loans to pay off, and this debt can eat away at the funds that are available to launch a new business.
As a young entrepreneur, you need to have a healthy and realistic expectation about the profitability of your venture. Remember that very few ventures generate an instant profit. Instead, it is much more realistic to begin to turn a profit within two years. You should always have an emergency fund on hand to pay for your expenses in a worst-case scenario.
As a young business professional, you likely have already encountered at least a few age-related stereotypes. For example, you may be stereotyped as being lazy or irresponsible because of your age. You may find it difficult to get older professionals to take you seriously or to think of your venture as being credible.
It can be difficult to overcome this type of stereotype immediately. Perhaps the best thing that you can do is to prove your doubters wrong over time. Through your words and actions, show your colleagues that you are a hard worker and that your idea is a lucrative one. Eventually, you will find that your colleagues start to believe in your abilities and begin to endorse and support you.
Another challenging obstacle that you may face as an entrepreneur relates to social rejection from family and friends. Your family and friends may not understand what you are trying to accomplish through your business, and they may not immediately support you. Because of this, you can easily feel isolated and as though nobody supports you.
While you may feel isolated from family and friends, you can network with other entrepreneurs to gain the support and friendship that you desire. However, remember that family and friends are still important and deserve your time. Eventually, these individuals will begin to support your efforts as well.
Self-doubt is common for entrepreneurs, so you certainly do not need to hear unsolicited criticism. You may even hear criticism that dissuades you from pursuing your dreams or trying to grow your business. Some older professionals who failed with their attempts at entrepreneurial activities or who feel threatened by your opportunity for success may try to steer you on the wrong path.
It is important for you to sift through the advice that you receive. Avoid taking all advice wholeheartedly, and let some words simply run off of your back. Focus on the words of advice that will serve you well and that you can learn from. If you receive any advice that does nothing more than discourages you or dissuades you from moving forward with your goals, simply disregard that advice and move forward with a clear mind.
Hiring Employees for the First Time
Young entrepreneurs will be faced with the task of hiring employees for the first time, and this can be a stressful and intimidating prospect. There is a learning curve associated with interviewing and selecting the right candidates as well as with training the successful candidates properly. Keep in mind that your talent pool does not need to be limited to your local area. If you open your mind up to the possibility of hiring remote workers, you will have an even larger talent pool to explore. A remote workforce may also save you money in utilities and other forms of overhead.
Remember to think about the type of company culture that you want to create before you hire your first employer. Your interview process, training regimen and other aspects of the onboarding process should reflect this culture.
All new startups can have trouble attracting new customers. Untested brands may not have the market power that tried and true brands have. In some cases, established entrepreneurs may be able to use their recognition to attract customers to a new venture, but younger entrepreneurs do not have this benefit.
Young entrepreneurs should focus heavily on providing customers with quality products and services. Because value may come into question, they may need to find a way to offer products and services to the marketplace at a slightly better price than what the competition is currently offering without impacting quality.
Being a younger entrepreneur may seemingly have a few disadvantages, but remember that you also have a few positive things working in your favor. For example, you may have perseverance, enthusiasm and perhaps even a technological edge that you can use to your benefit. Be patient, and plan to work hard to overcome your challenges as you get your new venture off of the ground.
****For this post, Campus to Career thanks Jen McKenzie!!****
About the author: Jen McKenzie is a freelance writer from New York, NY. She is fascinated by all things having to do with words, business, education and cutting-edge. When Jennifer is not busy writing, she enjoys taking long walks and spending time with her two pets Brando & Marlon. You can reach Jennifer @jenmcknzie