Advice for young people in business
One of the reasons why I started the Enterprising Gen-Z podcast was because I wanted to create a platform where young people could listen to entrepreneurs get the confidence and the knowledge to get involved with entrepreneurship.
As a child, business always fascinated me and I was never shy to get involved. I started out my enterpreneurial career in 2007, just after my brother Téo was born. I was 4 at the time, and I founded the Shiny Stuff Club where I employed my family to find me shiny things. Admittedly, in hindsight, I wasn't going to become a millionaire, but it's the spirit that counts, right?
If you've listened to the show, you will know that at the end I always ask guests to summarise their experience in one piece of advice for our listeners. I think out of all of the questions I ask, this is the most telling.
I had just recorded Episode 4 with Harry Portch, and got a message on my LinkedIn asking me to to speak on a panel of young entrepreneurs about my experience of working within an organisation age 17/18 and my advice for young people out there who want to get started. I asked Harry that very question, and his answer was clear and simple.
"Do it now".
Harry explained that you should start a business easy instead of waiting. He focused on financial reasons, going into detail about how overheads are low while you're young, so, A) you can put more money into your startup, and B) you don't have people relying on you for an income, like a wife, husband, partner etc.
This got me thinking, and as I listened to the other entrepreneurs on the panel deliberate, I started to formulate my own ideas.
I came up with 6 reasons why you should start your business while you're young:
1) Low Expectations: As soon as someone announces they are a young entrepreneur, 'age bias' comes into play. My experience is that this 'age bias' creates lower expectations of an entrepreneur. I have worked on the principle of under-promising and over-delivering in my short time in business. I am already under-promising because of my age, but when I deliver, and wow my customers, they become my biggest fans, helping me spread my product through word of mouth and recommendations, and opening doors for me that would have otherwise been firmly shut.
2) Fail Earlier: The earlier you fail the earlier you can recover. I am a strong believer in learning from failure, and I think that the reasons for failure as just as important if not more important than the reasons for success. However, there are ways to fail which are more beneficial thann others. It took me a while to learn how to fail well. A key example of this would be rejection. The first time I was rejected was when I applied for head boy. I was heartbroken when I heard the news I hadn't received it. Part of my role at Wing is contacting big corporate clients directly, to achieve B2B sales, rather than B2C (therefore small scale) sales. Part of this is dealing with rejection, and asI had already been through it, and failed earlier, this didn't hold me back.
3) Time is Money: As we grow older, we experience a change in the value and the amount of time we have. 1) Salaries develop over time, and normally, as we age, our time becomes more valuable as salaries increase. 2) We become more time poor; we don't have as much 'disposable time'.
4) Less Risk: The younger we are, the less responsibilities we have. This goes back to what Harry was saying on Episode 4. You probably don't have a family, a mortgae, or rent to pay. Like me, you probably still live at home. It is easier to justify pumping 5,10, even 15% of your salary into your start-up when you have little financial responsibility. As you grow older, it becomes harder to step away from the security of your 9-5 job, and into the unknown of entrepreneurship.
5) Play the Age Card: Even though this may sound like I am contradicting myself, being younger does help to get meetings or calls with prospective clients. Although I said it can make people dismissive, or have lower expectations, playing them "Hi my name is Sam and I'm an 18 year old student" card has got me opportunities I wouldn't have got otherwise. This angle really does help sustainable growth at a young age.
6) Long Term Assets: Businesses, like a lot of things, are long term assets. We build them so that, in the future, we have a passive income and financial freedom. As small minded as that may sound, that is the driver behind lots of small business in my experience of speaking to entrepreneurs and my friends. 41% of Gen-Zers want to become entrepreneurs. Why? Because we don't see the value in selling our time to a boss. That won't allow us to be financially free, or be satisfied in our careers. Selling time for a salary won't get us anywhere in life. Fact. Starting early is vital in building these long term assets from the ground up, as the earlier you start, the better the asset your business becomes.
To conclude, it's never too late or too early to start your business. Like I've said, the best time is during your youth, and lots of entrepreneurs would say that they regret not starting earlier.
What are you waiting for? Get to work!