Young entrepreneurs can be successful, but they face specific challenges that must be overcome.
Some entrepreneurs only get started after they’ve had a long professional run, sometimes spanning decades. Others get started right out of college—or even while they’re still in high school. Entrepreneurs from both groups can be successful, and each will face unique challenges, but young entrepreneurs face especially difficult problems due to their age, inexperience, and position:
1. Reputation. When you’re young, you won’t have any kind of reputation to work with. People won’t know your name, and you won’t be able to draw upon your connections in a specific industry. You’ll be starting from scratch, which puts you at a disadvantage to your more seasoned counterparts.
2. Stereotyping. Unfortunately, most lenders, investors, and potential clients will stereotype you because of your age. You’ll be seen as less wise and more prone to rookie mistakes, and people will be less willing to give you a chance.
3. Hubris. Not all young people are arrogant—but the entrepreneurial mindset caters to confident personality types, and being young can fuel that confidence to dangerous proportions. It’s easy for young entrepreneurs to get cocky, ignore advice, and make bad decisions for their company.
4. Funding. Funding is harder to get when you’re young for a number of reasons. You won’t have any personal savings to draw upon, your finances will be less stable, and you won’t have a credit history to show to prospective lenders.
5. Inexperience. Experience matters. If you don’t have any experience as a business leader, or as a professional in your target industry, it’s going to affect your eventual success.
6. Fun. Most young people like the thrill of entrepreneurship, and tend to make decisions that optimize the entrepreneurial experience, such as creating a fun workplace culture and taking advantage of unlimited vacation time. However, these “fun” decisions are rarely the best business decisions, and may have devastating consequences.
If you’re a young person or an inexperienced entrepreneur trying to start your own business, you need to recognize these six unique challenges and find a way to compensate for them. They can be overcome—as demonstrated by countless successful young entrepreneurs—but only if you’re properly prepared for them.