When Justin and I were seniors in college, we both did our capstone project focused around the construction business that we would open upon graduation. We spent the semester researching what we needed to do to begin our business as well as set goals for the business to be a success. We were in our early twenties and we thought we had it all figured out. Something we did not take into consideration was the reality of ageism in business that would come with being a young entrepreneur.
Fast forward to now, when we decided to pursue development of this historic building, we met many questions about how our age plays a factor in this endeavor. Let’s face it, when is the last time you’ve seen a couple in their twenties take on any type of development project?
The thing is, you do not have to be an entrepreneur to have experienced ageism in the workplace. When we hear about ageism, we often think in terms of discrimination against older generations. I’m here to tell you ageism is present across every age. I want to share with you some of the struggles I have experienced being a young entrepreneur the best ways I have faced these setbacks.
So often, I’ve seen a stigma that being young equates to being uneducated. As young people, we realize that those before us have much more experience, but we still strive for respect and to be taken seriously. What we lack in experience, we make up for in creativity and innovation. Our ideas and contributions are worthy of consideration.
As a business owner, I have to make decisions of hiring and managing people, many times of which they are older than me. Other times, I have been an employee of a company and was tasked with the responsibility of training people older than me. Regardless of the situation, there is a fine line between commanding respect and being arrogant. As a leader, I want to earn the trust of my employees and those around me.
This topic resonates with me the most. Mainly because this struggle so often comes from within. As entrepreneurs, we’re taking risks. We’re taking these risks at such a young age and while we are doing the best we can to succeed, there’s always the question “but what if I fail?” Then comes the self-doubt of “what if I’m not experienced enough, or old enough? What if those around me are right? What if I’m not cut out to be a young entrepreneur?”
When we were in the exploratory stages of purchasing and restoring The Golden Building, I had to make a presentation of our plans before an audience of seasoned entrepreneurs most of which were old enough to be my parents. That alone was such an intimidating factor that made me want to halt the dream altogether. How could I possibly convince these individuals that I could make this dream a success?
I spent many hours and days doing research, making clear projections, and practicing for a professional and persuading presentation. Knowing the answers to questions before they were asked was the key. My preparation proved my worth as a young entrepreneur because while I did not have the experience, I had done the research to show that I had fully invested myself into this dream.
I wholeheartedly believe that innovation is better than creation. I’ve said many times during this project that I’m not trying to do something that no one has ever done before. I want to learn from others that have done things similar and learn from their mistakes or take their advice to make my dreams a bit better.
As young people, we need to be willing and open to learn from those that have gone before us. We need to be humble enough to ask for help when we don’t have a clear path. Sometimes, even when we think we have clear answers, it’s good to ask someone older for advice and direction.
I have many different mentors for many different aspects of life. This isn’t just business advice! It’s so important to have someone you can call on in times that you need encouragement and advice. This is generally someone that has had a few more trips around the sun and has experienced first-hand the ebbs and flows of life.
My mentors have always been gentle and honest of my aspirations in life. That’s why I believe having a mentor is important so that we can learn from someone that has more experience. Also, we can seek guidance from someone that is going to be realistic about our goals and dreams.
I believe that being young creates the best opportunity for us to pursue these dreams. As young entrepreneurs and business people, we have the energy and spirit to put our best and most creative efforts into our work. We are so blessed to be surrounded by others who have learned things about business and development who are willing to share their experiences with us.
What about you? What kind of struggles have you faced because of your age? How do you work to overcome ageism in business? I’d love to know if you have any advice for me, too! Leave a comment to let me know.
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.1 Timothy 4:12
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