By Natasha Jain, CEO/co-founder of Bent Chair.
It's always hard to be taken seriously as a young entrepreneur. But the rules to establish yourself as a founder of any age remain more or less the same. When I started my first company, I was 22. Now I am 29. That being said, when I think about how entrepreneurs can succeed and establish themselves, not much has changed. The following are three key points I believe any young entrepreneur can use to help get their career on the right track.
Do Your Research
No matter how much experience you may or may not have in a particular domain, if you decide to enter it, you must properly evaluate the current players, the customer need and the market size. As many startups seek investment, you will go through numerous pitches where you are expected to know the information inside out.
Investors want the companies they invest in to be extremely well informed. They want to know their money is going toward a venture where the founders are 100 percent dedicated to its success. Lack of adequate knowledge will be a deal breaker for any investor. There will be an abundance of information you will learn throughout your journey. But educating yourself on the basics will help steer you in the right direction.
Prior to entering the furniture business, I knew how to run a technology startup and a manufacturing supply chain. But I had little knowledge of how I could apply my learning to the furniture industry. I knew that if I wanted to successfully operate and grow my business, I had to learn about the market, growth areas, customer needs and pain points to the best of my ability. This has helped me understand my target market and the steps I need to take to get my business to the next level.
Be an Active Part of the Entrepreneurial Community
One great way to both learn and establish yourself is to be part of different entrepreneurial groups that exist in your city/country. Being part of panel discussions, networking events and immersing yourself in the entrepreneurial community is extremely important. The more you raise your visibility, the easier it will be for people to associate you with what you're working on.
Speak with industry groups and trade associations to reach key players within your industry. Make the time to get to know your community and create deep roots. For the past several years, I have made it a priority to become a leader for not only entrepreneurs but young women in my community. I want to offer my knowledge to help mentor other aspiring entrepreneurs and learn from those who have been on this journey before.
The startup world is exciting. I believe it takes a certain kind of person to be an entrepreneur. A common quality I have noticed among many is the desire to help others. Immersing yourself in this community will be beneficial in a variety of ways. No matter how busy you are, try to make time at least once a quarter to engage with your startup community.
Build a Great Team
An essential part of establishing yourself is having a team and a set of advisors who can work with you to build a great startup. These individuals can not only serve as mentors but help add credibility to your company, especially if you are a first-time founder. Be open to taking unsolicited advice and criticism from those with experience to help you along the way. I see many entrepreneurs making the mistake of having a closed mindset and only wanting to do things the way they believe things should be done.
Don't let your pride get in the way of your success. Ego often plays a huge role in entrepreneurial failures. I have taken it upon myself to seek mentors in various sectors of my business to help me better understand what improvements need to be made. Try to establish a relationship with a variety of individuals who can contribute to making your business successful. For example, I myself look for mentors within marketing, sales, finance and those with specific knowledge of my industry.
Outside knowledge should always be appreciated and taken seriously. While all advice may not be gold, you have to remember there is always more to learn.
Natasha Jain is a serial entrepreneur and CEO/Co-Founder of Bent Chair.