When I was 15 years old, my mom picked me up from high school one day (since I didn't have my license yet).
I had to be excused a few minutes early from class, because I had a meeting.
We drove 45 minutes north into downtown Boston, and my mom waited in the car as I took the elevator up the Prudential Center tower. I walked into the offices of the famous Boston Duck Tours, excited for my first real sales presentation.
I had emailed with its marketing director for weeks after a referral from my neighbor. We spoke on the phone to discuss the end-of-year corporate video that the company hoped I could help produce. I mailed an example video to BDT's office to give it a sense of the quality it could expect.
I just didn't say that I was 15.
The look on everyone's face as I entered the conference room was priceless. But more priceless was my experience as a young entrepreneur. If you're thinking of starting a business when you're older, here's why you should get started now instead.
1. You're already under-promising.
In business, one of the best things you can do is under-promise and over-deliver. That gap is what creates high value in the eyes of your customer.
Well, as a young entrepreneur, your customers know they are taking a bit of a risk. It's true. Their expectations are a bit lower, and there is an altruistic component to wanting to help you get started.
So, when you deliver an amazing product or service, these early supporters will become your largest fans.
2. The stakes are lower.
A lot of my college friends said they wanted to start their own businesses. Very few have.
When you get a job and start to take on real responsibilities like a mortgage, car loans, or even a family, it's harder to make the decision to step away from your well-paying job.
As a student or recent graduate, you probably aren't rolling in the dough yet. And you probably aren't rolling in the responsibility. So take this opportunity to get your hands dirty and build something before it gets too hard to try.
3. Students get meetings.
In my opening example, my client didn't know how young I was. But, as I grew my business, I played the "I'm a student" card more than a few times to get meetings with prospects.
Here's the lesson, and the angle: Ask for help. Everyone wants to help a student, but rather than trying to go for the sale, go for the feedback.
Explain to your prospect or partner what it is that you're doing, and why the person's feedback or support would really help get you started. In my case, many of those in my early meetings turned into customers, because they wanted to help me at the first opportunity they could.
4. You can focus on building results, not a résumé.
Taking a corporate gig out of school is certainly appealing. You get a salary to start paying off student loans and a comfortable place to collect some real-world experience. But, if you're like most recent graduates, you'll have your eyes open for the next job, and then the next job.
Monster.com recommends that job hoppers focus on key experiences at each company to land the next role. As an entrepreneur, the experience is one of an owner, a manager, a sales representative, a marketer, and everything in between.
As you build a company, you build customers. You build revenue and results that can springboard you into working for a competitor, working for a new startup, or working for the same corporation that you were previously considering, perhaps a few rungs up the ladder.
Too many people want to start a business someday. Whether your company succeeds or fails, use your youth as an asset, and your entrepreneurial experience as a trophy for taking the path that few people have the courage to take.