There’s something special about entrepreneurship. Well actually, there’re a lot of very special things about entrepreneurship, but there’s one in particular which stands out with regards to entrepreneurship and age, being that there is no requirement! Every once in a while you’re see something on TV flipping through the channels about a kid who started selling something out of his or her own home which became a full-blown company or who wrote an app which was sold to a major corporation for a hefty sum. From these statements, you might think, “Well then, why can’t anyone can to this?” Well, I think anyone can. Anyone can be an entrepreneur. Not everyone can follow through with it, but everyone can try. As the famous quote goes, “the only difference between ‘try’ and ‘triumph’ is a little ‘umph.’”
It’s probably a fair statement to say that most people have thought about entrepreneurship or self-employment at some time during their lives. Human nature dictates that we should feel independent, not relying on others for anything really, whether it be food and water, shelter, or in this case, a source of income. At the same time, kids are defiant. If you’re the parent of a teenager, you should know that. But defiance is not a crime; it’s an agent of change. If you’re reading this and you’re older than thirty or forty, you can probably remember a time when you can relate. If you’re reading this on this website in hopes of escaping the rat race, you probably wish you still had that defiant spark in you. Or, if you’re a kid right now and you’re reading this, then great, you should be able to relate right now.
When I tell people “I’m an entrepreneur” (which I usually don’t do), it’s almost always met with a skeptical “What do you mean?” because these days, anyone can pick something up, sell it online, and try and call themselves an entrepreneur. Anyone can make a website and certainly anyone can use other websites that are already put out there for this purpose – to sell stuff. But entrepreneurship isn’t about making money, it’s about innovation. Before you roll your eyes, think about it. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to sell stuff. But if you innovate how things are sold, or what you’re selling, then you’re doing something useful. Think about an “entrepreneur” that you may know, and then ask yourself if that person has done anything to innovate any field or product, even just a little bit. If your answer is “no,” scratch them off of the list. These people give entrepreneurship a bad rap by calling themselves such. They’re wannabes. But when I hand people a business card or show them my company’s website, they begin to take me a bit more seriously.
I’m going to discuss a few of the ways that you can make yourself stand out in the crowd of young entrepreneurs that exists today. I’m not going to go into how to become an entrepreneur, because that’s the same for anyone, regardless of age, because it’s not about reality, it’s about perception. As a kid, others will perceive you as less responsible or serious as an adult, and these tips will help you change that.
Be proactive. Take initiative.
The fact that you’re reading this already means that you’re experienced in being ahead of the game. While other kids your age would rather be partying while their parents are out of town and smoking just about anything they can get their hands on, you’re on a website dedicated to helping Gen Y entrepreneurs find cultivate their passion. That says something. Keep up with it.
Network network network.
A lot of adults will tell you that spending time on social media is a waste of time or that it’s pointless. Well, you know what? Without networking on social media, I wouldn’t be writing this article for this website, and my business probably wouldn’t exist, or certainly wouldn’t be anything near what it is. I wouldn’t personally know the founder of this website or any one of my successful entrepreneur friends. This is the 21st century, and in my opinion, ignorance is now a choice if you have internet access. This might be the first time anyone’s ever told you to get on Facebook or Twitter and spend hours connecting with people, but do it. Start by friending me on Facebook. Check out the Secret Entourage Facebook page and connect with people there, too. Anyone who you meet on the Secret Entourage forum who might be able to help you out, friend as well. It’s great to have everyone in one place to share things with and connect with. In my experience Facebook is the most useful tool when it comes to connecting with entrepreneurs, mostly because it’s more organized than sites like Twitter where no one knows exactly what to take seriously. Apart from this, try some entrepreneurs’ personal websites if they have a “contact” option or something similar. These typically won’t be met with as enthusiastic or helpful a response, but are always worth the try, as with anything else. Friend and follow everyone you can, because you never know what you might be able to get with a few clicks and simple “please.”
Get started! Do something!
There’s a good expression which applies perfectly in entrepreneurship: “Money talks, bullshit walks.” It may not be that your business has money right now – everything’s about potential. But anyone can come up with an idea and not act upon it, pretend to act upon it, or even create a website and make a shoddy half-done product and try to pass it off. So get ahead of these people, and don’t get stuck in the endless phase of analysis paralysis. If you’re unsure if your business will be a success, do it anyway. Everything is worth the try. No one ever started a business knowing with 100% certainty that it would be a success. If uncertainty doesn’t sit well with you, reconsider why you’re reading this. Conversely, if you feed off uncertainty and doing the best you can in order to succeed, read on and act upon what you read.
Nothing is a failure.
If, for whatever reason, your business launches and you deem it to be a commercial failure, try looking at it from a different perspective. At the end of the day, you learned a lot about starting a business, more than others know, made new contacts which may become your most valuable assets in the future, perhaps learned a new skill, and have something good to put on your résumé. In the words of Thomas Edison, “I haven’t failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”
Be persuasive. If it doesn’t come naturally, become persuasive.
Persuasion is your best friend. You’ll need to persuade just about everyone to do something or agree to something at one point or another, be it your parents, a manufacturer, a sales rep, or even yourself. Learn how to argue if necessary but to do so in a controlled and respectable manner. You’ll be able to get what you want more often this way. Of course, sometimes, you won’t, so bear that in mind you won’t always win every debate or disagreement that you enter. Also, don’t be too proud to haggle. Working down prices with manufacturers or service providers is an incredibly important step to maximizing margins, and asking is always worth it. You never know if you never try.
Learn how to properly communicate with people.
This one should probably go without saying, but it’s worth mentioning: don’t address an entrepreneur who is taking the time to read a message from you or meet with you the same way you would your best friend in the school parking lot after school. Be courteous and respectful, being careful to keep word choice especially in mind. It’s okay to kiss up a little bit, just enough to make sure that they know you are familiar with their work and be to-the-point as to how they may be of assistance to you or your business, but don’t overdo it. Also, occasionally, you might get a response that is written in the same way that you would speak to your friends and other kids. In these cases, it’s fine to choose to either continue talking to them as if they’re a professional adult or just talk how they’re talking to you, but generally speaking, there won’t be too much of a difference.
Make yourself presentable in all aspects.
First impressions matter. Get a decent haircut, dress well, and have a presentable profile picture on social media. Get rid of “Ball So Hard University” or “School of Hard Knocks” from your Facebook education profile and do the same for “Being a Boss” under occupation. Chances are, if you actually have either of these incredibly stupid pages listed as your education or occupation, you don’t have what it takes to be an entrepreneur at a young age. Grow up and act older than you are if you’re going to interact with people who are older than you on a daily basis. Have a friend take a nice photo of you dressed decently with a good camera for a profile picture, and write a mature bio for people to see. Make a new email with a mature username, and be sure to use an email with a private domain name if you have one for your startup or potential startup. Additionally, save all email attachments as PDF files. Every little thing counts to make sure you are attempting to be professional, mature, and to take things seriously. Also, it can’t hurt to grow out some stubble if you can, as long as you keep it neat. On a recent trip to California, I had the chance to meet up with a friend from here at Secret Entourage. Apparently he didn’t know how old I was until we started talking about Las Vegas, where we were both going there later that week, and he was surprised to hear that I wasn’t 21, saying that I looked and acted much older than my age. Point being, if you do all of these things correctly, you will look, act, and seem much more mature, and you will notice that people will take you much more seriously.
So, there you have it, some tips on how to get people to take you more seriously as a young entrepreneur. I’ve covered most of the things that I can think of for now that I have run across during my entrepreneurial ventures, but if you would like to discuss any of the challenges of being a young entrepreneur further, please reach out to me! I can be reached at any time by email at Kiran@CarbonTrimSolutions.com, on Facebook, and on the fantastic forums here on Secret Entourage (user “Kiran Ravindra”). Additionally, if you would like to learn more about my most recent startup and my latest product including the carbon fiber iPhone case, visit my website or email me with the email listed above! I’d like to thank Secret Entourage for letting me share this article with you and hope that you will be able to take something positive away from it