Being an entrepreneur you are met with a host of hurdles. For some, it can be to get an MVP together to trial the market (we can help with that!) and for others, it might be getting the first investment. More often than not, it’s not one hurdle – it’s several!
Age can be a factor that can influence the struggle of starting a business. Being under 30 can mean a lack of experience in your chosen market compared to older-aged business owners, adding to the dreaded feeling of imposter syndrome. It can also mean a lack of credibility when asked for a “track record of successes” and not having many to list due to the little time that you have actually been working.
We checked in with 5 founders under 30, to discover how age has affected their careers up to now, and learn from their experiences:
Name: Tristan Gillen
Business: Growth Division
I run a consultancy business, and sometimes my age has been a problem in face-to-face meetings (especially as I look even younger than I am!). It can be off-putting to some when I’m talking to people who have been in their industry for decades, and I come in as a young guy advising on sales and marketing… But generally, when I get stuck into the subject they can tell I know what I’m talking about.
To flip this on its head, some people see the value in younger, more tech-driven consultants who know the latest tools that can help their business save time and get better conversions on sales and marketing funnels.
Name: Kat Agg
Looking back, I can see that being a ‘young’ entrepreneur has had a couple of impacts on my path.
1) People who have ‘been there, done that’ are very willing to offer advice, support and help.
2) People can be cautious of your age, and in my case, be cautious of my timid personality. As an attempt to counter this I would often deliver far too much and undervalue myself which was not sustainable!
If I arrived at the start of my journey again, I wouldn’t change the route. I have learnt so much, met many wonderful people and had ample opportunities to work on myself and become a more confident person.
Name: Elliott Prendergast
Business: Not Just Travel – Prendergast Travel
A challenge to the journey was initially establishing credibility and getting people to understand I am a serious travel business-owner. When you’re networking, mixing with business owners and have a target market that is predominantly older in age, it is easy to feel intimidated. However, by recognising that as long as I truly believe, act and conduct myself as an entrepreneur and business owner with my actions and language, then this would lead others to have no reason not to believe the same as well. This has allowed me to build incredible business relationships as well as develop strong rapport and loyalty with clients.
The best thing about being a young entrepreneur is that every day I am already able to do what I love. In my scenario, this is making peoples holiday dreams a reality, and is the reason that our clients are able to have amazing experiences and create even better memories. Being young has helped as I also understand that I do not know everything, however, I am a sponge around individuals who have a wealth of knowledge in areas that are key to my success. I also completely understand that you must work hard as well as smart: The entrepreneurial journey doesn’t have to be complicated so long as you follow the basics and always keep an open mind. I’m learning something new every day and faced with new challenges in order to provide our clients with the ultimate VIP service I’m aiming for.
Name: Dave Inglis
Business: Gadget Line Films
There have been advantages and disadvantages to starting Gadget Line Films so young. I founded the business at 23, with the goal to disrupt the market and create amazing, affordable film content for SME’s and small businesses. I made the jump straight out of university, which is not just young in terms of age, but also young in terms of business experience and filmmaking.
Bristol was absolutely the right place to start; there is a surprisingly big community of like-minded young people starting businesses. This young business community helped me no end, it gave me the opportunity to experiment, make mistakes, learn and, most importantly, I have met some of my best friends. In this sense, my age has been a huge advantage. If it wasn’t for meeting other like-minded people I wouldn’t be sat writing this in my downtime at The World Economic Forum, Davos working for The Wall Street Journal!
There have also been downsides to my age but I am starting to see this change the older I get. I have been outright ignored in meetings, missed out on pitching opportunities and not taken seriously in general. One occasion stands out in my mind: I was invited to a meeting with an estate agent about making an advert. In the meeting, the company director told me to wait a few years and buy a suit! I had no words and left the meeting with my tail between my legs… it was a short meeting! This has not happened often but I am definitely finding it easier to win big projects as I get older and experienced.
Gadget Line Films now takes me travelling around Europe making content for WSJ, HP, M&S and British Rowing to name a few. We are sticking to our initial goal to help SME’s by launching various offers throughout the year providing great content at an affordable price.
Name: Samantha Miles
I used to think starting a business young was a huge benefit, that I had more time to take it further and less pressure to get it right from the start. I’ve been a business owner, freelancer and entrepreneur for almost 4 years now and I don’t believe this anymore.
In the past 2 years, I have had experiences outside of my entrepreneurial world which have significantly impacted the way I look at things and how I approach being successful in business.
It’s been a challenging 4 years of self-employment and entrepreneurship. While I still believe having been through this experience from such a young age has helped shape who I am and my growth, it has also been far more challenging without the experience behind me that I now have. We always learn so much and have things we would have done differently through our experiences so I am certain this would be the case to some degree no matter what age you start a business.
There are some definite perks behind starting an entrepreneurial venture young however, in my experience, I think some time to learn and experience in that world without the pressure of your own start-up would have been beneficial.