How To Overcome The Barriers Of Being A Young Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurship is not for the faint hearted – No matter your age, demographic or determination, an entrepreneur’s career path is rough and you need to be thick skinned in order to handle the bumps and bruises you’ll get along the way.
Let’s not forget that approximately 95% of new ventures will fail so it takes a strong person to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, ask what went wrong and learn from it.
However, if you think you’ve got the confidence and self-belief then, as a young entrepreneur, you have some unique tools at your fingertips that can make the life of a start-up a little easier.
When our alumni of young entrepreneurs were asked what they saw as the assumptions made about being a young businessperson, the most common phrases were ambitious, brave, naive, lack of experience, risk-takers and full of energy.
There seems to be a dichotomy between ‘youth = inexperience‘ and ‘youth = drive to fulfil ambition‘. In fact this is not the whole truth.
I believe that while a young entrepreneur’s drive and ambition can not be taught, inexperience can be easily overcome through the power of a network and skills learning.
Here’s how I think a young business-person can overcome some of the most common startup challenges.
Lack of experience = Build Your Network
Many of the challenges of a young person in business is partly down to lack of experience. These include finding people to work with and commercial acumen. To overcome this you need to lean upon the power of your network.
For some, the simple reach out into the friends and family network can help develop experience. However, this is not the case for everyone.
If this is you, then look to ‘up’ your game by getting out and meeting people – Network, network, network.
By connecting with other business people and making an impression, you can fast build up a network of potential mentors, investors and champions.
This isn’t about making a few connections on LinkedIn – although the social network is valuable and shouldn’t be underestimated – I mean get out and make face-to-face connections. Attend networking events, which occur up and down the country every day of the week.
If you’re at university or college join the entrepreneur society. Here you will meet like-minded individuals who are going through a similar experience to yourself and who you can bounce ideas off of.
Lack of skills = You’ve got more than you think
The digital skills that you’ve learnt, during your time in higher education and through personal experiences, means that you have tools at your disposal to help in setting up and running a business easier than ever.
Digital technologies such as social media, online selling and digital payments at the click of a button and, as young entrepreneurs who have grown up being immersed in the digital world, you are able to navigate and understand these better than anyone.
The key is not access to information and tools but knowing how best to use them to benefit you.
Lack of finance = keep it lean
Some perceive young entrepreneurs as not serious until they get their first round of investment and today’s market is not kind to entrepreneurs in their early days.
In fact lack of access to finance is a major gripe to under-30 individuals. You are even discriminated against when applying for a mortgage if you are an entrepreneur because of the risk associated with this career choice.
The reality is that there are other ways to get the finance you need. This can include raising the initial money yourself by taking a job and saving the money earned, using the friends and family network for starter capital and, if your idea is good enough, enter startup competitions that offer prize money.
We’ve seen NEF alumni use university competitions and corporate startup competitions as a way to raise capital.
At the end of the day, challenges are there to be overcome. The ones we’ve talked about in this article are just a few of what you’ll face.
So if you are thinking of starting a business, be honest and ask yourself if have you got what it takes? The belief in yourself in the face of any challenge is what will help get job the done.