Does being young mean you should never be prepared to fail and always ready to win? Youth is associated with innocence, lack of wisdom, immaturity, arrogance, and an “I can do it myself” attitude, all of which comes with the territory. However, today’s society has redefined the meaning of youth, and one sub-section of society that has done this in particular is the business sector. You might ask, what do I mean by this? In my opinion, capitalists have grossly lessened room for error on the young entrepreneur’s part based on the following:
Past or Current Successes
Gone are the days when a young person could start a business and have no one to look up to or call “heroes.” If I started a business in the early 1900’s, who could I call a role model? Maybe Henry Ford or John D. Rockefeller, who you would have nothing to relate with since these men started their businesses well beyond their youth. However, fast forward to present day and the young entrepreneur has a countless number of success stories to admire. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Evan Spiegel of Snapchat, Pete Cashmore of Mashable, Ben Lerer and Adam Rich of Thrillist, Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal, Alexa von Tobel of Learnvest.com, and the list goes on and on. All these stories are remarkable feats that have redefined the young entrepreneur in today’s world. This has made being a young entrepreneur one of the most challenging life paths as you are always being looked at as a failure if you don’t reach the success levels of the individuals named above. The business world has created a reality in which failing as a young entrepreneur is almost frowned upon, because why should you fail when you have so many success stories to be inspired by? This is the unfair reality that youths face when entering the marketplace of entrepreneurship in which creating a business that doesn’t reach a valuation of $1 billion within a year is an utter failure.
Exorbitant Start-Up Valuations
A valuation can do so much for your growing business; it can literally make or break you. As start-ups start to mature and leave their stage of infancy, there comes a need for more capital. Valuing a business based on past and future growth is difficult enough, much less teamed with the issues of finding a revenue model that works and most of all, trying to prove that you are worth what you are asking for. The hard truth is that 99.9% of businesses started by young entrepreneurs will never be the success stories that we hear about on Bloomberg and CNBC everyday. Majority of these entrepreneurs will fail, and fail hard. They will have to pick themselves up, brush off and start again, this is what being young entails. Making mistakes and learning from them through failure and a lot of trial and error. Some get it right on the first try while for others it takes multiple tries. So cut the young entrepreneur some slack because this made up world of success lets us turn a blind eye to the true meaning of youth.
Turning a Blind Eye to the True Meaning of Youth
I am 25, and I have so much more to learn and grasp. As a former VP in a restaurant start-up created by young minds (we are all under 30), we faced these challenges everyday. The hard knocks that come with being looked down or looked up to in the business world. The fluctuations of business, the uncertainty of demand, the endless battle of fighting for customers attention and money; it’s a damn tough world out there. Therefore, as young entrepreneurs, without these uphill climbs and failure staring you right in the face, how will you ever be your best? Being young is the stage of life where you should be allowed to make mistakes, allowed to fail, allowed to persevere, allowed to be resilient, allowed to cry, allowed to get scars, and allowed to smile. It should not be an endless need to prove yourself, to be like the success story you heard of on the news, or to not take risks because you are afraid of failure. What kind of life do we want young entrepreneurs to lead?
The young entrepreneur has nothing to lose at the end of the day. That individual has everything to gain. Shove success stories, over the top evaluations and capitalists wanting you to grow up to the side and create your own path. Make your own mistakes and define what your life and your business should be about, because being young means there is nothing to lose but a few months off your years.
What are your thoughts on the topic?