HOW TO ESTABLISH YOURSELF EARLY AS A YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR
When I first started my business, I was a bit hesitant because of my age. I was only in my early 30s back then and barely starting to establish my own family. I was trying to learn how its like to be a mother and a wife back then and now I was thinking to have a new baby “ A BUSINESS “
I went through the exercise of removing any public-facing dates that could help people determine my age. I felt there was a good chance people would correlate the probability of my success as a founder with how old I was.
But I quickly realized that there are many benefits to being a young entrepreneur, including fresh perspective, limitless energy, and increased risk tolerance, to name a few. These qualities are a huge driver of innovation and, in my opinion, one of the main reasons why successful entrepreneurs started early.
I don't define success as wealth, but those young entrepreneurs that I look up to proved that age shouldn't be a barrier to starting a business. Younger founders definitely have downsides, and that's why I'm sharing advice that helped me, a first-time female founder who started a business-based startup when she was in early 30’s .
Build a diverse network as quickly as possible.
You will never know who you might need to communicate with, and you will never know who to meet on your existing network. If you're a mom of a preschooler, consider ways to build your network through parents club, connections with faculty and other school employees, and most importantly, friends and family. You might have 100 friends in your community, but what if you need someone to help you code and introduce your cool new platform idea? Diversifying skills in your network is vital, and this is true if you are also a professional. Have an important connection. There were times when I needed help with a Facebook campaign or with questions about sales tax and I was able to reach friend from digital marketing and finance who took a lot of time and saved me a big headache.
Cold outreach can open doors.
Don't be afraid of cold outreach, because it can work incredibly well if you do things like a) gaps in your network, b) sales, or c) fundraising. Facebook and Instagram in particular have worked wonders for me. Personally, I've given way more messages than I've received myself, and Instagram is still our largest sales channel. Thoughtful and unique incoming messages are often replied to. I am always ready to respond to personally composed messages and sometimes take time for a quick phone call on my calendar when I think I can add real value to the person who is contacting them. Have a clear ask or set of questions that the person you’re reaching out to can offer their advice on. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that people will want to help you or hear your sales pitch.
Have a personal growth mindset.
One of my favorite sayings is the Japanese term ‘kaizen’ meaning ‘constant improvement.’ There is always something to learn from someone else. Your knowledge in a subject can always be refined, so be open to others’ opinions and let people challenge your thinking. Keep in mind, though, that it’s always easier to critique something than it is to come up with a solution on your own, so be deliberate about who you ask for advice and also know there is certainly a point at which you could hit feedback fatigue. Carefully consider who you take advice from and how their experience is relevant to your business or the task/problem at hand.
My sister in law encouraged me via phone to “ start right now”. We often think we have to climb the corporate ladder or get years of industry experience before we take the leap to starting a business. But the sooner you start the faster you’ll get feedback from the market and iterate on your business idea. Rarely ever does an entrepreneur have an idea that lasts the company’s lifetime. Many businesses pivot with customer feedback, as was the case with my company, GlammedNaturallyOil.
Your job as an entrepreneur is to learn as fast as you can, and it’s never too early to do that. What I’ve shared above is by no means an exhaustive list and won’t necessarily be directly transferable to everyone in all cases. So, taking a page from my own playbook (tip #3), take it for what it is: free advice! You know better than anyone what you need to do to be successful in whichever way you wish to define it.