There are many stories about creative, hardworking bootstrappers who have launched successful businesses seemingly out of nothing and at a very young age.
In fact, some may have been in junior high or high school when they started their business. No doubt, these individuals faced many challenges on their road to success.
Regardless of whether you are preparing to launch a new business or you have already set the wheels in motion, it may be helpful to understand what some of the more common challenges faced by young entrepreneurs are and how you may strategically address those challenges if they crop up.
Common Stereotypes About Young Professionals
Regardless of the type of business that you are involved in, the chances are you will face unfair, judgmental people and their stereotypes about young professionals.
Each new generation believes that all young adults are lazy, self-entitled and disorganized. These assumptions may be made about you by professional colleagues, financiers, potential investors, clients and others, and they can make it more difficult for you to gain respect or to be taken seriously.
The best way to beat this type of stereotype is to overlook preconceived notions and to do your best. Through your hard work, ingenuity and overall effort to succeed, you can show each individual who has unjustly stereotyped you that their assumptions are incorrect.
Access to capital is a significant challenge for many entrepreneurs regardless of age, but it may be more challenging for younger adults to raise startup capital. Younger adults may lack a substantial credit history that may be necessary to qualify for a business loan.
Many older entrepreneurs invest at least some of their own funds into their venture, such as by taking out a home equity loan or cashing in a retirement fund. These and other similar options are not available to most young entrepreneurs.
The good news is that many new businesses can be launched from home thanks to the prevalence of technological innovations and applications. This enables today’s entrepreneurs to launch a startup at a fraction of the cost that would have been required several decades ago.
A Struggle to Recruit Top Talent
In order to run a successful and growing business, you must usually assemble an exceptional team to support you. For a skilled, educated professional, when searching for a new job, the focus is usually on finding a position that offers a great compensation package and that has upward mobility. Additional plus is a position with an established company that offers substantial job security.
As a young entrepreneur, you may not be able to offer any or most of these things to the talent you are recruiting. This can make recruitment more challenging, but one idea is to hire remote workers.
Many talented, educated professionals may be more willing to overlook some of these other factors in exchange for the convenience of working from home and having a potentially flexible schedule. Managing remote workers is a challenge in itself, but there are numerous steps that you can take to simplify the management experience. For example, project collaboration programs, enhanced communication technologies and regular team meetings are a few of the ways that you can effectively lead a remote team.
A Limited Network
In any business industry or niche, you will not do business in a bubble. Successful entrepreneurs often branch out and take advantage of a large network that they have assembled over the years. These contacts may simply offer guidance and advice. They may also work in a related field and provide referrals.
When a young entrepreneur lacks a significant number of professional contacts for these or other benefits, he or she is seemingly at a disadvantage. However, if you focus on building a solid network quickly, you may overcome this challenge. Some ideas for networking involve getting active with industry organizations, attending networking events in your field or related industries and joining associations for young professionals in your area.
The Need for Education and Self-Development
Some young entrepreneurs are eager to launch a business while they are still in college or even without being enrolled in college. Many successful business owners got started without a college education or while they were still attending classes, so a formal college education is not a requirement for success.
However, your learning curve as a young professional may be steeper without a higher level of education to fall back on. A focus on regular self-improvement is smart for entrepreneurs of any age.
In addition, if you are not comfortable with your knowledge base in specific and important areas, such as marketing or IT networks, reach out to consultants or outsource the work.
You do not need to be a master of all trades to run a successful business. Instead, you need to surround yourself by the right mix of skilled professionals.
Starting a new business can be intimidating at any age, and it may be particularly prohibitive if you are a younger adult without the experience, education, professional network or capital that older professionals often have. Nonetheless, it is possible to overcome these challenges as well as the many stereotypes that others may have about you. Now that you are aware of the some of the more common challenges that you may face in the months and years ahead, you can proactively combat those challenges and move forward on a path toward success.