Starting Young With Your Startup

Photo by hang_in-there via Flickr

When’s the best time to start your startup?

Right now! Yes, that’s right, you heard me the first time, now’s the best time to start your startup! While you’re still young, while you still have all the time in the world. If you wait until later, it might be too late. Waiting and procrastinating may have pernicious effects on your plans!

This article is meant for those who are young (yes, students still in college; age shouldn’t be a constraint in business), and have an idea for a startup, but for some reason or another, do not yet have that state of mind so unique to entrepreneurs. If you’re reading this, hopefully, it will give you the impetus to start.

Why do you have to do it now? Below are the reasons why:

1. Time

When you are young, you have lesser responsibilities. In most cases, you only have yourself to take care of – you are single, you have no family, at least not yet. This means you don’t have to divide time between your family and your business. You have the argosy of time, since your free time is spent mostly hanging out with friends. There shouldn’t even be a conflict between your friends and your business – with free time, you control your schedule, and you can surely find time for that business you’re toying around with in your mind, while not abandoning your party life completely.

Young entrepreneur Brandon Yanofsky, in Why College is the Best Time to Start a Business, sums it up so nicely:

“You have a full schedule of classes and lots of homework and extracurricular activities like excessive partying, but when you’re in college, you have far fewer responsibilities than when you graduate. As such, you have the ability to control your schedule. You can move your class schedules around, or maybe even decide to take a night off from partying. And don’t forget about your summer breaks. Right now, you have far more free time than you’ll have again in your life.”

Paucity of time shouldn’t ever stop you from pursuing your startup. So, start now, while you’re in an insular state of mind.

2. Mindset

The young’s mindset is much more positive than their elders. Everyone knows this – the young think they can do anything and that NO obstacles in front of them would be too hard to overcome, they have the dynamism and the energy to give their all, to conquer anything! Starting a business requires passion, which is often equated, and rightly so, with the young. Other attributes required of entrepreneurs reside so naturally in the young. Thus, in terms of mindset alone, youth has all the advantages! If anyone can pull that business through, it is them!

Another young entrepreneur, Andrea Walker, in Five Attributes That Give Young Entrepreneurs a Competitive Edge, writes:

“I hear this phrase quite often when I meet older business owners for the first time, “I wish I started my business at your age.” While being a Gen Y entrepreneur has it’s fair share of pros and cons, I can understand why most people would think that. Starting a business in your twenties affords you opportunities that clients and colleagues will appreciate when working with you. Many of today’s best-known entrepreneurs started their business when they were very young including Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Mark Zuckerberg.”

She then goes on to list the five attributes she thinks young entrepreneurs have over their older peers: passion, risk-taking, innovativeness, perseverance, and fearlessness.

3. Social Environment

When you are young, you have a much broader social support group. Your social connections, your classmates and friends in college would be willing to try out your products for free – you won’t have a lack of testers!

Many universities today offer free support to student entrepreneurs. Business incubators as well as business plan competitions are common nowadays in today’s universities. Faculty with entrepreneurial experience, and friends too, offer much needed help, all for free, as well. All these free support will not be available to you once you are out of college!

In What Every Student Entrepreneur Needs to Know to Succeed, angel investor and entrepreneur David Lerner said:

“Launching a company during your student years is the best time in your life to do so because there is no downside. You can only learn, meet people and sharpen your skills. You can’t lose…”

4. Less is More, or Lean Startup

The young adapt to what is available to them. Since they have fewer resources at their disposal, they are used to the idea of a ‘lean’ startup and are capable of building a final product that is less than ideal, but already fits the bill. They are also much more willing to pivot, if needed. This is more important than having unlimited resources for building your product. The chances of burning cash is thus higher when you have more resources. This is a no-no when it comes to your business.

Under-20 entrepreneur Brian Wong, in Being Young and Rocking It: 9 Tips for the Young Entrepreneur, writes:

“People often ask me, “how has your youth prevented you from achieving certain things?” I almost always view my youth as an enabler rather than a barrier. Many will assume the latter simply because business/experience/age has gone hand in hand in the last decade. But with the Internet, we are no longer operating on a linear curve of growth of knowledge and numerical age. We are now living in the era of exponential knowledge.”

5. People’s Expectations

People’s expectations of you are much lower when you’re still in college. They expect much more from you once you graduate. Failing with your startup while you’re still in college won’t be too much of a burden for you. Instead, people will look at your experience as a badge of honor, and won’t tag you as a ‘failure’ for the rest of your life, since they know you can do much more, young as you are, in the years ahead.

Justin Hedge, in Learning to Embrace Failure, says:

“A young entrepreneur’s ability to embrace failure is paramount to his or her long-term success in business. Great triumph is often the product of a series of small, incremental mistakes. When processed effectively, failure will guide you toward your most ambitious goals and aspirations.”

6. You May Never Get Around to Doing It

Once you graduate from college, chances are, you’ll end up on the corporate grind, working on the 9-to-5. You’ll see your entrepreneurial ambitions slip away, as you get more comfortable with the idea of working on a steady income, and find that you can afford things even without that business you dreamed up while you were in college. You’ll also find that new responsibilities will put a kibosh on your plans. You wouldn’t want to end up like this – not realizing your dream of a business.

In Risk it When You’re Young, Joel Holland quotes WePay founder Rich Aberman:

“It only gets harder to start a company as time goes on…as you get used to a salary, you start getting comfortable with a certain lifestyle, which becomes hard to leave for the uncertainly of being an entrepreneur.”

So, don’t wait to graduate before going on that business venture, for your brief respite will turn to permanent obsolescence, nullifying your dreams and aspirations.

7. Fortune Favors the Young

Lastly, angel investors and VCs favor the young. Data shows that younger tech founders have better rate of success than their older peers. Investors are in it for the long run and expect younger founders to finish better and faster than older ones. It is natural for investors to think this, since an average exit takes about 5-7 years.

In Pattern Matching, VC John Greathouse discloses that VCs look out for a:

 “young entrepreneur who is inexperienced, but has an interesting idea and is willing to learn from the Board and the Core Team.”

Hank Williams reinforces this finding. In Silicon Valley is no Meritocracy for Minorities, he writes:

“These patterns are discussed openly in the tech industry around issues like age. Since it is only moderately politically incorrect to suggest that younger entrepreneurs are “better,” it is done all the time. The best example of this might be Mike Moritz from Sequoia Capital, perhaps the most influential of all venture funds, admitting in a Building 43 interview that they have a strong bias toward very young entrepreneurs.”

This doesn’t mean though that those who are way past their 20s, have already breached the 30s barrier, or are already in their 40s, 50s, and up, need not go into business. On the contrary – if you have that business idea raging within your head for some time, no matter what your age, go out there and start it. What’s important is to start – the rest will come later. Remember that Steve Jobs was already past 45 when he came up with such breakthrough ideas as the iMac, iPhone and iPad.

To the young, go for broke, and launch that startup! It will be the cynosure of your life, the culmination of everything you’ve worked for!

To those who are not so young anymore, it is never too late to start a business! Go out there, and do it!

 

  • Emerson McIntyre

    Great article. I just graduated form college and still this is very relevant to my life now.

    • http://www.venturestab.com/ Jerome Gentolia

      Emerson,

      Thanks for stopping by. Wish you all the best! What are you working on right now?

  • http://bkvirendra.github.com/ Virendra

    Well for guys like me (in their 19′s), having lots of ideas to work on. This post surely had lots of things to offer!! Thanks Jerome for such a wonderful post!!

    • http://www.venturestab.com/ Jerome Gentolia

      Virendra,

      Thank you for visiting my blog. I am glad you find it insightful.

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