If you’re young, and you are entrepreneurial, your single greatest asset is your age.
What they fail to tell you in school is that being “older” doesn’t necessarily make you “better.” What it makes you is different.
When you’re older, you see things through a lens created through years and years of varying experiences. In your industry (and/or tangential industries), you’ve learned what works, what doesn’t work, what people want and what they don’t want. You know the rules of the game. You know how people operate. And above all, you know enough to where you don’t feel not defeated when someone says that scary word, “No.”
All those things are great — and immensely valuable. But they are not what makes someone “better.”
Young people see life through an equally valuable, and different, lens.
When you’re young, you tend to be more instinctual than logical.
I have absolutely found this to be true for myself, as a young entrepreneur. While older individuals have an immense amount of knowledge at their fingertips, they tend to be quite logical when making decisions. Like I said, they have experiences they can point to that taught them what worked and what didn’t, and make future decisions largely based upon those prior learnings.
Young entrepreneurs don’t have that luxury. They don’t have those experiences yet. And so, for better or worse, they are forced to make decisions based on instinct — what feels right, and what appears to be most obvious to them at the time.
The best businesses for young entrepreneurs to start are ones that build off any current working knowledge.
My parents used to tell me all the time, “Cole, do what you love, and be the best at what you do. That way, you’ll be both successful and happy.”
At 27 years old, I still consider myself to be a relatively young entrepreneur. My business, Digital Press, is a writing agency. We help CEOs and founders write more thoughtful articles, based on the insight they share with us. Before Digital Press, I was a freelance writer. And before that, I was studied creative writing in school.
From an outside perspective, the writing world is extremely saturated. Do you have any idea how many “blog posts” are written on the Internet each day? Millions. Nobody would ever look at the content writing space and think, “Wow, that’s a really untapped market — I should start a business there.”
Unfortunately, most young entrepreneurs think this way. Instead of auditing their own skill sets, they look for what’s easy and available. They poke around and base their decisions on what appears to be open territory — only to begin on the journey and learn the hard lesson that no industry is free from competition.
I didn’t think about it this way.
I heeded my parents’ advice: “I love writing, so I will become one of the best writers on the Internet.”
By the time I launched Digital Press, I knew the digital writing space better than anyone.
I had walked the walk myself, had studied all my competitors, had learned all the different ways people make money in this space, how, where, and why.
But most of all, I knew that if I pursued something I had a genuine interest in, I would be far more successful than if I tried to force myself to get excited about something I truly didn’t care about.
What’s interesting though (and this is where all young entrepreneurs should pay attention), my age has ended up working to my advantage.
I am young enough to be a “child of the Internet.” I speak the language fluently, and my early experiences as a competitive teenage gamer taught me how to see the Internet differently than most older, more “experienced” people in this space.
And yet, I am old enough and mature enough to understand the fundamentals of business. I’ve worked for an advertising agency. I’ve worked personally with 100+ CEOs. I have learned how to speak their language, without forgetting how to speak my own.
This, right here, is every young entrepreneur’s greatest advantage.
You have to remember what it is you’re bringing to the table, and why it’s valuable. And a large part of that is your instinct, and how “tuned in” you are to what’s happening in the digital world.
Now, where a lot of young entrepreneurs fail is they think that’s enough (instinct and gut) and it’s not. Just like how older business leaders need young people to help them keep pushing boundaries, young entrepreneurs need to learn from their older counterparts the ins and outs of the business world — and how that game works.
If you want to start a profitable business, then don’t pursue what other successful people have done just because you think it’ll be successful.
It’s going to be hard regardless.
There is going to be competition no matter which direction you choose.
So choose something you’re already genuinely interested in — and then work hard to learn everything else you need in order to bring that idea to life.