Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jill Phillips who is a freelance writer and aspiring entrepreneur.
As a young entrepreneur, you start a venture that can set you on course for a lifetime of fulfillment. Unfortunately, age can trigger societal stereotypes that try to make youth a liability rather than an asset. While dealing with conflicting social attitudes and other age-related resistance, you also have to face all the other pressures faced by anyone who wants to become an entrepreneur.
Your place in the business world depends on how you navigate the obstacles in your way. Rather than letting other people discourage you from reaching your goals, learn about what you should expect and get ready to rise above the fray. Begin by preparing yourself for the following seven challenges you might face as a young entrepreneur.
1. Facing Age Stereotypes
Generational values can affect how the community perceives you as a young entrepreneur. Older people might instinctively judge you as a lazy or irresponsible person, refusing to give you a chance to earn their trust. Other entrepreneurs might doubt your ability to persist with your business over time.
You can counter age-based stereotypes by maintaining professional conduct and respectfully treating everyone you encounter. As a rule of thumb, you can guide your behavior by treating other people in the same manner as you would like them to treat you.
Believe in yourself and stand firm when others mistreat you because of your age. Confidently assert your abilities and recognize your ambitions. Hold yourself, not others, responsible for your success.
2. Financial Issues
Many young entrepreneurs already face the financial challenges posed by student loans and other educational costs, resulting in fewer funding opportunities. Compensating for the problem requires you to have a fantastic sales pitch and a solid business plan to improve your chances of attracting the financing you need to open or expand your business. However, you can build a successful company even with the challenges associated with limited funding.
Regardless of your financial situation, you should have realistic expectations. Entrepreneurs of all ages often sabotage themselves by expecting profits to appear instantly. It may take several years before your business sees any substantial profit. This underlines the need for you to have a liquid emergency fund and a solid financial plan before starting your business.
3. Social Rejection
Your family members and friends might not understand why you chose to start a business. They might not share your passion nor support your ideas. They also might question your decision not to work as a regular employee. Not receiving any support from your loved ones can certainly be a challenge.
You can combat feelings of rejection and isolation by networking with other young entrepreneurs. Share your business and personal experiences and find supportive friends and acquaintances who will encourage your ambitions.
When working long hours and traveling on behalf of your business, try not to neglect your relationships. Make a conscious effort to spend time with your family and friends. Talk to them about your business and put some effort in helping them support your ideas.
Feelings of social rejection will slowly subside with the growth of your new network of supportive peers as well as with the growth of your business.
4. Facing Criticism
As a young entrepreneur, you might hear people criticize your ideas or second-guess your plans. Some will constantly evaluate all your business decisions and say they could have done better. Some will criticize you personally, discouraging you from pursuing your dreams.
When money gets tight, you can expect to hear about how you should look for a traditional job. When your ideas fail, others can criticize for your lack of experience. Don’t take everything your critics say to heart.
Criticism can sometimes come from negative people who feel jealous of your entrepreneurial vision or feel threatened by your success. You must learn to face criticism and use it to motivate you to succeed. Prove your capabilities to yourself and the world, and leave your critics behind.
5. Hiring Employees for the First Time
When you get ready to hire workers for your company, you will face new challenges. The process of identifying, recruiting, and training the right talent for your business can take time and cause frustration. You need to create a great company culture that attracts employees that have the right combination of skill, ability, and attitude.
If you’re starting your company in a small town, you might have difficulty finding suitable workers because top talent is migrating to the major cities to improve their employment outlook. However, you can expand your pool of prospective employees by employing a remote work policy.
Telecommuting has become a transformative workplace trend that allows employees to work for distant employers without having to relocate. You can hire remote workers from a different city, state or even country. An added benefit to this type of work will materialize itself in the form of savings on office supplies, utilities, etc.
6. Dealing with Stress and Self-Doubt
Owning a business can bring you many satisfying moments, but it can also cause you to experience anxiety, stress and self-doubt in the process. As a young business owner, you might not have a steady income at first, so you might have days when you have trouble paying the bills.
Stress can sometimes cause discouragement and make you feel like you want to give up. Deal with this type of self-doubt by reviewing and revising your goals and task lists. When you do, you can make sure you direct your thoughts and activities in ways that support your goals.
Although you work in a demanding role, you can take steps to minimize stress with regular exercise and meditation.
7. Finding customers
A small marketing budget and global competition can complicate your effort to attract and retain customers. To complicate matters, many of your leads and prospects might turn away when they find out that your business has little experience.
Customers tend to feel confident when they deal with companies with more brand recognition and expertise than yours. Don’t let your underdog status discourage you. You can try competing on price because many large corporations must charge higher prices to cover their overhead and marketing expenses. Make sure you provide high-quality goods and services to your customers to keep them coming back for more.
Your life as a young entrepreneur seems exciting, but it brings challenges that you have to deal with on your pathway to success. Never let your age or stereotypes about your age prevent you from pursuing your goals. You can overcome every obstacle in your way through perseverance, enthusiasm, and optimism. As you gain experience, you will overcome all the issues associated with youth and embark on a long journey as a successful business owner.
About the author
Jill Phillips is a freelance writer from Buffalo, NY. She is an aspiring entrepreneur and tech enthusiast, who loves to share her insight on various topics. When she is not writing, Jill enjoys taking photos and hiking with her dog. Connect with Jill via Twitter @jillphlps