As a young entrepreneur, I learned very early on that there are some unique business challenges associated with my “youth.” While it would be a BLAST to go through and debunk many of the incorrect assumptions regarding professionalism and productivity of young businesspeople, we’ll save that for another time.
Today, I want to focus on 5 key ideas which you can use to EMBRACE your youthfulness rather than shy away from it.
- Business in 2019 is more conducive to youth than ever before.
Whether you are working within a corporation or starting your own business, the technology boom in the last 20 years has caused productivity and talent to be held in the highest regard. While you still see the “3-5 years’ experience” requirement on many job applications, employers are slowly beginning to realize that ability matters much more than age alone.
Much of the negative stigmas surrounding younger people in business are rendered obsolete in many cases, as client interactions are often held via conference calls, emails, etc. Want to be a consultant? Trade bonds? Develop marketing strategy? All of this can now be done remotely, and so the “need” for an “experienced figure” quickly dwindles. There are certain traits an experienced businessperson has which give obvious advantage, but if they are not predicated on their ability to provide value to the company or client, then they have practically ZERO advantage over you.
- Your energy and creativity is valuable to company culture and innovation
As a recent college graduate, I have experienced more energy than every before! Granted, in college I didn’t feel that way due to my abysmal eating habits and sleeping patterns. However, since I’ve graduated and decided to focus on my physical and mental health, get enough sleep, etc., my energy has skyrocketed.
Not everyone has natural energy reserves bursting at the seams, but you SHOULD be able to enhance your company culture and innovation capabilities by proactively sharing your ideas with your boss/co-workers/employees. You are young, with a heart full of dreams and aspirations, and that fact alone can be a catalyst for innovation within your company.
Let this also be something to think about: Your boss should support your creativity and innovation, not suppress it. If that is not the case in your work environment, do yourself the courtesy of FINDING A NEW JOB!
- You have time to get your feet wet
While this unfortunately cannot be the case for everyone, modern advancement in technology and medicine has drastically increased our life expectancy, meaning you will probably live for a long time. How long is a LONG time? 80 years? 100 years?
That answer will probably change from person to person, but the truth is that you have PLENTY of time in your life to work and accomplish your dreams. Don’t use that idea to support your procrastination habits, but rather as a mindset to guide your current mentality and goals. You have time to experience SO MANY different occupations, living arrangements, etc. If you are lucky enough to be 23-years-old like me: put your head down, try many different things, work your butt off, and don’t look up until you’re 29 (one of my favorite Gary Vaynerchuk ideas).
The biggest trap you can fall into as a young businessperson is comparing your current financial/social status to your peers. You do not want what they want, so why are you SO concerned with their success compared to yours? There’s no single “right way” to be successful, so turn your focus inward and figure out what YOU need to do.
- You have time to provide EXTRA value to your company
While some of you may have started a family at a young age, most people at 22-years-old (simply using my age for these analogies) do not have the responsibility of taking care of a husband/wife and children. This means that practically ALL of your time, aside from sleep and occasional breaks, can be put into honing your craft.
Let me ask you a question: Would you rather be working 80 hours a week when you are 25 or 55? I don’t know what your answer to that question is, but I can assure you that I’d much rather put in the long hours now rather than when I have a wife and kids. As young people, time is our #1 advantage, but ONLY if we use it wisely. Using that extra time to provide value to your company, school, etc. will allow you to grow exponentially, and will be quite impressive to your peers and superiors.
Here’s a pretty simple equation: If you provide value to your company, you become a very valuable employee. Valuable employees get promotions… promotions get you raises… and raises compounded over many years get you financial freedom. In my opinion, it’s very smart to start that trend NOW rather than later.
- It is MUCH easier to exceed expectations
If you log on to social media or watch the news for all of 30 seconds, you’ll see that there are PLENTY of negative opinions about “today’s youth.” We’re all lazy. We’re entitled. We don’t respect authority. We don’t care about our country. We have no moral compass. We all eat Tide pods.
Obviously, those things are not true about the majority of our generation. If you’re one of the ones that fall into one of those categories, then step it up! 😀 However, I’m well aware that there are many people my age who are starving for success. They are hungry, they are talented, and they are ready to make an impact in their business world.
If this is the case for you, use it to your advantage! Our generation is highly underestimated, and you can use this stigma to blow your boss’ or peers’ expectations out of the water. Show them that you aren’t like everyone else (or their perception of everyone else). Be willing to do whatever it takes to exceed your expectations, and those at work will take notice. You will gain respect from your co-workers, and ultimately will receive more responsibility than others your age.
Whether you’re 22 or 72, the only thing stopping you is yourself!