After going through a considerable amount of research and reflection in preparation for my forthcoming posts on the millennial generation and how to effectively market to them, I thought it only appropriate to dive into what this generation can expect in terms of being a young entrepreneur. In my own experience, I believe that the following three things are important to understand for the purpose of being prepared for how those around you will perceive your actions and decisions in the startup world.
People will be jealous.
As I’ll explain in series of upcoming blog posts, studies show that other generations perceive millennials as being generally “lazy” or “incompetent.” Ouch. Why is this the case? If you take a look at this TEXxSF video featuring Scott Hess, titled: “Millennials: Who they are and why we hate them,” he explains that older generations are truly feeling jealous of the fact that the younger generation is able to dive into the world of start ups as an entrepreneur, when for them that wasn’t a possibility until much later in life. This isn’t, however, a revolutionary idea, Hess explains. This pattern of jealousy can be seen passed down from generation to generation. So where does this jealousy stem from?
It appears that older generations expect to see younger generations struggle to move up the corporate ladder while working in what they consider to be the norm: the 9-5 environment. This seems reasonable enough, but with all of the noise being generated with growing technology and new media, our generation is experiencing a sense of suffocation, in which a corporate 9-5 setting isn’t allowing us the ability to focus our mind. This is especially true if these individuals are creatives. Therefore, when being asked to deliver valuable, organic, rich content, when the environment we are in can stifle our mind’s creative abilities, one can understand why, if we could, we would choose our own work environment. The studies show that the majority of us do not thrive in a corporate setting and even if we did, we cannot seem to find jobs out of college in this economy. The solution? Many of us have decided to take matters into our own hands and become young entrepreneurs.
People will question your skill level and your legitimacy in your chosen field of expertise.
I could go on and on about this one in particular, but I’ll start with a quick story that baffled me, not just because it was a person I cared about and had supported me in the past, but because this person was my age and was going through similar economic challenges herself. When I told this friend, in confidence, but excitedly, about the company I wanted to launch over a year ago, her first response wasn’t one of shared excitement or well wishes. Instead, she asked, “okay so…what makes you the expert? Why would anyone come to YOU of all people…”.
Even though hearing that from someone I thought was a supportive friend was a tough pill to swallow, it was something I needed to hear and legitimately answer for myself. In retrospect, I think I could’ve used a bit more of a positive reinforcement regarding my future but uncertain plans, but everyone reacts differently. As a young entrepreneur, people are not only going to be jealous of you but they may also question your ability to pull this off at your age. It’s a pretty harsh world, and you will undoubtedly receive plenty of both positive and negative responses to your choice. However, remember to use their negativity or their jealousy and channel it to motivate you to keep moving forward so you can prove them wrong. Empowering yourself in ways like this can turn you into an even stronger person overall and help with your ability to handle difficult people in business.
People will think your choice to be an entrepreneur and have your own business is either “cute” or “just a phase” until you find a real job.
Family can be both one of your strongest allies in your startup journey but they can also contribute to the negative emotions or doubts you may be harboring at the back of your mind. I’ve known young entrepreneurs that have their parents, also entrepreneurs, support them completely in their decision to quit their 9-5 job and start their own business, but I’ve also seen the opposite. For an entrepreneur and especially for a young entrepreneur, it is extremely risky to quit a secure job with a paycheck to follow your dream. Your family and friends could act in several different ways, or may like the idea at first but then have their doubts. On occasion, it’s important to have your support group give you a little bit of a reality check, so you can reevaluate what you’re doing, how you plan to make a living out of it in the future, and of course so you can prove them that you can do this.
Don’t let family or friends reactions to your startup process or decision bring you down. Take it instead as a way to empower yourself, motivate yourself to work harder toward your goals, and perhaps even reassess those goals and what is or isn’t working for your business. You’re smarter than you think; age isn’t always reflective of intelligence or worthy experience. If you’re curious about these emotions in your road to startup success, make sure to check out stage one, stage two, stage three, and stage four of starting your own business venture and how you can cope with the exciting roller coaster of emotions at each stage.
Your turn! How has being a younger entrepreneur impacted your life? Is there anything you would add to this list? Comment below!