Young, Wild and Free … Oh, and Successful
In most professions, the older, more experienced practitioners find themselves at an advantage over younger professionals. As we all know, entrepreneurship is anything but a traditional field making it no surprise that younger entrepreneurs often find themselves at an advantage over more experienced practitioners. FYI: we don’t mean toddlers when we say young entrepreneurs, we mean younger than 35.
One survey, conducted by American Express, showed that 66 percent of young entrepreneurs put in over 10 hours per day while only 58 percent of older entrepreneurs do the same. In addition, 72 percent of young entrepreneurs like to take risks compared to 53 percent of older entrepreneurs and 66 percent of young entrepreneurs are technology savvy compared to 47 percent.
"Generation Y is the most entrepreneurial generation ever, " said Jeff Cornwall, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Belmont University in Nashville. With this generation entering the market place, it’s almost guaranteed that young entrepreneurs are here to stay.
With that in mind, let’s explore what advantages young entrepreneurs posses.
- Optimism: Young entrepreneurs tend to dream bigger, think wider and risk more. Some say its their optimism, others say their naïve. Either way, young entrepreneurs seem to be blazing the trail for innovative thinking and entrepreneurship. Young entrepreneurs are yet to experience the battle scars and pessimism experienced by more experienced entrepreneurs.
- Ability to take risks: As a young entrepreneur, you typically have less financial commitments. In other words, you don’t have don’t to support a family, pay a mortgage or deal with other “adult” expenses. To summarize, they can afford to make expenses. This is one of the greatest benefits of being a young entrepreneur. The lack of financial responsibility allows young entrepreneurs to dream bigger, take greater risks, and rebound from any financial consequences.
- Stand out: Since society generally has lower expectation for young entrepreneurs, the successful ones generate more publicity. To put it in simple terms, a young, successful entrepreneur is interesting. People love interesting. Thus, people love to read about young entrepreneurs. This gives young entrepreneurs a great advantage when generating attention and publicity.
- Pivot: One of the greatest advantages of being a young entrepreneur is being able to find a need and act to fill it. This can be seen with entrepreneurs such as Mark Zuckerberg’s who saw a need for a new social media site and created Facebook.
- Most educated: Scott Gerber , founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, said that our background in education and technology separate us from previous generations of entrepreneurs. “We're the most technologically savvy generation and the most educated generation in history," said Gerber. It’s true. You can see it anywhere you look. Attending college has become more of an expectation rather than an exception to the rule. Their well-rounded educational background
- Technology savvy: The current generation of entrepreneurs is at a major advantage since they’re the first generation to grow up with technology. Let’s face it, we wake up in the morning and check our Twitter and Facebook feeds. We get bored at work; we check out Pinterest (link to prior blog) and do some more Facebook stalking. We get home; do some more stalking, post some clever tweets then dive into our technology of choice for downtime. Their lives, Generation-Y, revolve around technology. We adapt to new sites or apps within minutes, whereas it may take a baby-boomer a you-tube tutorial and a couple-of-hours to get up to speed. As you may have noticed, older generations are more resistant and less comfortable with technology , especially social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
While there are many benefits of being a young entrepreneur, there are also some obstacles they must overcome. The market isn’t friendly to younger entrepreneurs because, let’s face it, no one likes to see people younger than them come out on top. The first and perhaps the biggest obstacle young entrepreneurs must face is proving their credibility . It’s essential that younger entrepreneurs establish themselves as trustworthy and credible sources when dealing with investors, customers and everyone in-between. Failing to prove your credibility may have severe consequences and most likely leading to a swift failure.