In 2016, a record 80 companies were being born every hour in the UK. And, according to the latest Global Entrepreneur report from BNP Paribas, millennial entrepreneurs are launching almost twice as many businesses as baby boomers. Gen Y, it seems, are increasingly swapping the corporate world for startup adventures – myself included.
But with youth comes challenges – establishing yourself as a credible entrepreneur that investors, partners and customers can trust when you lack experience is no easy feat. Older employees may question your authority.
And, if you go straight in from education with no knowledge of the ins and outs of a business, it’ll be a steep learning curve to say the least with a lot of trial and error.
So how can you command confidence, and even use your age to your advantage?
Have a clear vision and goal
You don’t have years of wisdom on your side, so what you lack in background you need to make up for in energy and foresight.
Stick to your guns and don’t let other people call the shots – even if they mean well and are trying to be supportive, it’s important you’re not pulled in multiple directions.
Think, for example, about being in a meeting with a group of potential investors – passion, enthusiasm, purpose and a clear (realistic) goal are hard to dismiss. But if you waiver, you invite doubt and uncertainty – you’re a deer in headlights.
People buy into people, so demonstrate a strong sense of self-confidence and eventually the crowd will follow. Look no further than Corbyn vs. May…
Make quick like a sponge
That said, remember that setting course doesn’t mean ignoring the voices around you – you’ve still got a lot to learn! Be prepared to roll-up your sleeves and get to grips with every function within your business.
It’s no bad thing to embrace the expertise in your midst and ask questions – it’s only by having more information to hand that you can make better decisions.
In my case, my co-founder Omar has extensive experience in branding and company identity, and has been integral to nurturing the SPCE image. His unique insight has helped progress and shape the business in ways I wouldn’t have been able to imagine beforehand.
Be ready to take risks
Mid-twenties? Chances are you don’t have a family or mortgage to worry about yet, so why not boldly go where no one has gone before?
You’re unlikely to have been conditioned to think in a certain way, making it easier to ‘think outside the box’ and come up with something truly innovative.
And if you fail? You have the time and resilience to bounce back. This won’t be your only/last chance to carve out your own path – something that your older counterparts won’t necessarily be able to say.
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat… bet you know how to use all of them.
After all, we were the early adopters. We were the generation who saw Nokias evolve into smartphones and embraced the change. We were the first AirBnB-ers, Uber-ers and Deliveroo-ers.
We are the ones who look to 3D printers or augmented and virtual reality, and don’t question why we need them but how we can use them.
Disruptive technologies are your friend – where they might intimidate traditional businesses, they scream potential to millennial entrepreneurs. Get ahead of the curve and incorporate them into your business plans – you’ll be richly rewarded when others are scrambling to catch-up with trends later down the line.
We won’t all be the next Zuckerbergs, but the path of the entrepreneur need not be the treacherous road it once was. For the graduate disillusioned by the traditional nine to five, it’s a perfectly viable career choice, ready to be injected with the energy and dynamism that youth brings.
So, what are you waiting for?
Leon Ifayemi, is CEO and co-founder of SPCE, a new renting app connecting students with homeowners local to their university campus, providing a safe and secure link between landlord and tenant.
Meet the founder of a startup social network empowering millennial entrepreneurs
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