By Adam Guild, CEO of Placepull
Being an entrepreneur of any age is really hard. There are constant challenges, rejections and hardships. When something goes wrong, it always feels like it’s your fault. I’ve found this is true for young entrepreneurs in particular.
If challenges are not confronted, it could limit success. On the other hand, if they are confronted head on, they can actually be turned into strengths.
Those challenges are:
1. Lack of Credibility
Business is about trust. For many people, trusting young entrepreneurs to deliver is hard. Some people suspect that their lack of experience leads to incompetence and that because they lack the experience of others, they must be less credible and less worthy of trust.
The solution? Work extra hard on building authority in your market. Master the space you’re in by studying it relentlessly. Then, earn the trust of influencers by networking to them and showing you do know what you’re talking about.
Find specific opportunities where you can prove yourself, and then leverage those trust indicators to build credibility with the industry at large. I did this in my own journey. I started by learning as much as I could about restaurant marketing and contributing fresh insights to an industry magazine. One industry publication became two, then three, then fourteen.
The authority that came from being a cited expert allowed me to more easily network to the leaders of the industry, who are inaccessible to almost everyone. They were particularly open to connecting because I was young and had proven that I knew what I was doing.
Credibility aside, though, there’s one state that is present in every entrepreneurial journey.
It’s an undeniable truth. Being an entrepreneur, especially a young one, is incredibly lonely because there are few people who can relate to the magnitude of pressure that you’re expected to take on a daily basis.
Entrepreneurs face the taxing roller coaster of taking initiative and solving hard problems, often for far less pay and certainty than a traditional career path.
That can get lonely. The solution, at least in my life, was to make friends who were facing the same challenges and accept it as a reality of the path that I’ve chosen to walk.
That’s part of why the reward for succeeding is so outsized. Few are willing to endure the pain required to get there, and for good reason. So the solution, at least for me, was to accept it, to embrace the pain as a condition of the hard path I’ve chosen to walk, to use it to motivate me and strengthen my resolve.
3. Lack of Experience
As we’ve discussed, young entrepreneurs tend to lack experience in the areas where they want to build. Without experience, you’ll confront many hard problems for the first time, often without any idea of how to solve them. That can get overwhelming.
The solution? Use your naivete as a strength. Your fresh perspective on many of the problems you’re facing can lead to innovation because you’re not bound by the conclusions of other people’s thinking. You can leverage what you do know as a young person -- exactly how the world is changing, the latest trends and technologies -- to create brilliant solutions.
I experienced this firsthand. When I entered the world of SEO, I hadn’t been indoctrinated by universities and institutions on the best projects. I just had brief exposure to it from firsthand projects. So, I immediately associated what I had learned in the software engineering world and applied it to the world of SEO -- not knowing any better.
And it worked. We save hundreds of hours on each project as a direct result of that thinking. That thinking, which was contrary to the status quo, came naturally because I hadn’t spent years learning it the other way.
While being a young entrepreneur certainly has challenges, those challenges can be turned into strengths when approached in the right way. Overall, there is no better time to start a company because you’re able to take more risks and approach the world in a fresh way.
So, go for it. This is the time to be an entrepreneur. If not now, when?
Adam Guild is tech entrepreneur, marketing expert and the CEO of Placepull -- marketing technology for restaurants.