Everyone faces struggles and challenges when starting a business, especially when they have no prior experience. You need funding, you need clients or customers, a product, a service, marketing skills, and a ton of other things. The endless list of tasks can be daunting at first, and it makes everything exponentially difficult when nobody takes you seriously. Young entrepreneurs often face more challenges than just finding investors and customers; in fact, the real challenge is establishing credibility with them.
With this said, there are tons of young entrepreneur success stories out there. In fact, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Walmart were all founded by people who were no older than 26. But the reality is that it was tough for them too. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg invited 5 people to his Harvard dorm room to discuss a business opportunity, including David Rubenstein, a well-known partner at the Carlyle Group, one of the largest private equity firms in the world. However, only 2 of those people showed up and invested. Today, these two people are billionaires (Dustin Mokovitz, worth $6.5 billion, and Eduardo Saverin, worth $3.4 billion). Here are some tips that will help you establish credibility and get a head start as an entrepreneur:
Build the Right Network
Part of establishing credibility is building the right network. This should not be confused with building a large network. Each of your connections must be meaningful and accessible, and the people who you surround yourself with can play an enormous role in how other people think of you.
LinkedIn can be a very powerful tool to reaching out to new people. Find people in your niche or interest who are accessible and who make themselves approachable to anyone. Although this can be fairly difficult to find, being humble (i.e. not coming off as you know everything) and keeping an open mind can go a long way in finding valuable network connections.
Understand What You Don’t Know
In life, there are many factors and variables that are simply not in your control. This is where the “control freak” part of you comes in; try to control as many variables that affect you as possible, and focus on becoming a subject matter expert on your interests. Sure, starting a business can require patience and timing to some degree, but you can absolutely control what you learn with determination and a solid work ethic. This can really help in networking; knowing what you’re talking about can go a long way in making a positive impression on someone.
But keep in mind, you must also understand what you don’t know. Coming across to someone as if you know it all can easily be seen through. Do some research on your interests before conversing with professionals in your area.
There Is Always Something to Learn
According to a Bloomberg report, roughly 11,000 new business books are published each year. Undoubtedly, people want to share what they have learned. This doesn’t mean to go to your nearest Barnes and Noble and buy the entire Business bookshelf. Instead, approach someone in your industry with an open mind and maybe ask them, “What is the most important business lesson you have learned in your career so far?” Guaranteed, you will take away a valuable piece of information. It could help you now, or it could help you in the long run!
Always Fulfill Promises
There’s a saying that it takes zero talent to be prepared. If you claim you will do something, then do it. If you make a promise, fulfill it. These days, there is a plethora of teenagers who have fantastic and innovative business ideas, but a significant portion of them fail to execute their ideas and bring them into the real world. People will always be more impressed by progress than ambition falling to translate into reality. Make this a core principle as an entrepreneur, and as an everyday person.
Your Age Is Your Greatest Asset
Some of you may be discouraged by your age and the skepticism that it brings in the world, but you should really flip that thinking. Be empowered by your age. Think of your age as a “head start” to achieving your goals. Use this head start to absorb the knowledge around you and gain experience in your own pursuits. As long as you do this, you will be taken seriously by the industry, no matter how old you are.