Entrepreneurship isn’t just for those with their career spent in large companies and looking for a change. Today, there’s an influx of young entrepreneurs bringing their eagerness into starting a company and realizing their dreams. And it’s also kind of cute to see our idealism and naivete, right?
One Young Entrepreneur’s Story
Last year, at 22, I started a company with my business partner. We were fresh out of college, I was living the stereotype of working at Starbucks until I could find something better, and was interviewing for a number of jobs that kept falling through.
I had just started working with a new freelance client and got the bug of, “What if this could be my job?” I hadn’t considered being a full-time freelancer before, and while it was a little unnerving… why not?
Fast-forward a year and we have a full-fledge company. I’ve failed, I’ve succeeded, and I’ve figured some things out. There are definitely times when I get hit with imposter syndrome—I’ve never started a company before—and while, sure, I have the actual marketing experience, it’s an entirely different thing to have everything on you and your business partner’s shoulders.
That being said, there are definitely some advantages to starting young.
The Advantages of Being a Young Entrepreneur
Young Entrepreneurs Have Less to Lose: For the most part, we don’t have mortgages, or families, or a number of assets that we may lose while starting a company. About the only thing I have aside from my computer and my bed are some student loans, so why not try? (That’s an exaggeration, I also recently landed a free IKEA desk.)
If I were to wait five, 10 years until I possibly had a family, I’d be less likely to take a risk like starting a company. Because we’re starting a service-based company that has low overhead, we have less of a risk than some, but it’s still a risk.
Now’s the Time to Do Something a Little Crazy: Like my previous point, this is the time to start a company. Sure, you could have more experience, and sure you could be doing something more stable, but if you kept coming up with excuses you would never begin.
Take a solid look at where you are and where you need to be; your skills, your network… everything is on the table. If you’re going to do something a little crazy, at least be smart about it.
There are two reactions I get when I say I’m an entrepreneur. One is the excited, “That’s so cool, great for you!” look, and the other is “You’re crazy, why are you doing this?”. I thrive on people thinking I’m a little crazy, so it’s OK with me. Just be prepared.
You’ll Get a Crash Course in… Everything: By being a young entrepreneur, whatever it is you need to know that you don’t already, you’ll quickly learn it. Even if you majored or minored in business in college, there are still things you don’t know. And may not want to do, but you need to do now.
Take this as a unique opportunity, not a chore that you need to accomplish. Make sure you understand your invoicing program, the legal filings you need to take care of, and how to create processes and strategies.
If I hadn’t started a company, I wouldn’t have had to learn practical sales strategies, working with a lawyer, learning state regulations or realizing that, yes that accounting class I had to take in college really does come in handy.
Failure Isn’t Failure if You Learn Something
All along, I’ve been telling myself that “Even if we fail, we’ll still learn something.” And the chances are pretty high we will; we as humans just don’t like to fail. But here’s the thing: As a young entrepreneur, you’ll be learning these lessons earlier than some, you’ll have on your resume that you started a company, and the risk you took for that small chance of success says a lot about you.
If you take to heart every lesson you can possibly learn in this crazy journey of being an entrepreneur, then you aren’t a failure. Whether it’s a lost sale or something larger, take the experience, find what you can learn from it and keep going.
Overnight success is never truly overnight. All those entrepreneurial celebrities we follow on Twitter? They had their failures, too. It’s OK. I promise. As someone who’s been there, your next deal will come along, it will begin to not sting as much, and you’ll move on to bigger and better things.
There are advantages to starting a company at any age, and there are also risks associated with it. But just because you’re young doesn’t mean that you should wait. Be smart, but take risks. It will be hard, but it will also be amazing.