Being a young entrepreneur can sometimes be exhausting and getting a business off the ground is hard. It often feels like one obstacle after another. You need a compelling idea, funding, customers and you need to learn how to market. The list of things you need is endless, but possibly the most critical thing you will need is people to take you seriously. It can be hard to get that no matter your age. As a young entrepreneur you will often be faced with more challenges establishing credibility.
Don’t get me wrong, everyone loves a young-entrepreneur success story. It’s worth a brief mention that the founders of Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Walmart were all between the ages of 20 and 26 when they founded those iconic companies. But sometimes it takes a bit more effort for young entrepreneurs to get people to listen.
HERE ARE A FEW THINGS I’VE LEARNED ON MY OWN JOURNEY AS A YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR ABOUT ESTABLISHING CREDIBILITY:
credibility by association
Building the right network of people is what I personally believe to be the most important ingredient in business. The people you surround yourself with out of the gate will also drive others’ opinions of you. I realise this sounds great on paper, but it can also be a pretty tricky task to do. How do you start piecing together a network until you have the credibility? Listing your business with us is a great place to start building credibility, but there are 5 other things you can do to help build credibility.
1. know what you bring to the table
Figure out what you bring to the table, what makes your business unique? What makes you different from everyone else in your sector? (Read this article for help defining your point of difference) As a young entrepreneur you have got a lot of ideas you’re eager to try out. That’s natural for many entrepreneurs in the early stages of business, but to build credibility, you need a very specific focus. You don’t want to try be the best at 30 things. There’s always going to be someone who is better than you at each one of those things. Rather than strategising about how to build the next billion-dollar company, focus on carving out a niche for yourself. Move with what you can claim as your own. That focus will build your credibility.
2. everyone has something to teach
I say this to nearly every young entrepreneur I meet, you can learn so much from people if you just listen. Approach every new person you meet with an open-mind and a genuine interest in what they do. Ask about the path they took to get there, and even go so far as to ask them pointed questions like, “what is the best business lesson you have learned so far?” I guarantee you will walk away with something valuable. It might be a specific takeaway you can apply to your entrepreneurial journey right away. It may be something that helps you down the road, or it might just be the start of a solid relationship to add to your network of credibility. It’s all valuable!
3. do what you say you will
The good old ‘actions speak louder than words.’ It’s actually that simple, if you say you are going to do something, do it. A lot of young entrepreneurs (myself included) are very ambitious in their thinking. This is frequently hyped as one of the most positive traits of the young entrepreneur. I made the mistake several times early on thinking that ambition alone would help me be taken seriously. That’s just not the case. People are obviously much more impressed when you have real progress to show and it’s clear that your ambition translates to reality. I’ve made this a golden rule in business and everyday life.
4. inspire fresh perspective
You can use your inexperience to your advantage by providing new concepts and a fresh perspective to old problems. While there is no substitute for experience, I do believe that new professionals can provide a new solution for an old problem. Or a creative answer to a current process that isn’t working. I am hungry to innovate and take risks, more apt to try new things without fear of failure. Because inexperience may also mean you’ve got less to lose, and everything to gain.
5. embrace your age
As young entrepreneurs we sometimes face so much doubt that it can be discouraging. But I’d encourage you to flip that thinking, be empowered by your age. Use the time to soak up knowledge both from your own research and by learning from everyone around you. If you ask smart questions, establish your network, and deliver on your promises, you will be taken seriously by your industry and your peers. No matter the age gap!
Young Entrepreneurs of England (YEOEngland) is on a mission to uncover and give the UK’s young talent a voice by creating the go-to platform to support and work with young entrepreneurs.
Laura, the founder of YEOEngland believes young people are more entrepreneurial than ever. “More and more young people are wanting to start and grow their own businesses and we as a society should be doing all we can to ensure that hidden potential is fully realised, and that any external factors – be it family network, experience and funds, do not stop them. We should be empowering young people to take that first step in becoming an entrepreneur and giving them the space to do it”
Find out more about YEOEngland and list your business on their website by clicking here.
4 steps to break out of your comfort zone
Founder of Young Entrepreneurs of England