The decision to start a business or any sort of “side-hustle” takes a lot of nerve, especially when you’re only in your 20s. Yet, the ability to power on and keep going – through all the ups and downs of business is a feat to be truly admired.
Although us Gen Y and Gen Z’s have grown up in the easiest time in history to start a business, we arguably need to work 10 times harder just to prove that we’re serious about making a success out of our ventures – and not just vying for the “digital nomad” lifestyle or the trendy title of “Entrepreneur” out of a sense of millennial entitlement.
So here are 5 tips to help young people when starting a business or side-hustle and finding their feet in the world of business:
1. Don’t let your age deter you
Young people can get a lot of flack for the cliché perceptions like entitlement and narcissism that surround our younger generations. And sure, we don’t yet have the life experience and work experience that comes with being older, but don’t let anyone (of any age) tell you that what you want to achieve in business cannot be done.
Remember that age is just a number – and that being younger (and therefore less experienced in life) does not automatically equal the inability to succeed in a business venture. It’s actually quite fortunate that we have time on our side, as time is our greatest asset as human beings. We have years to learn, try new things, pivot, fail, and succeed in whatever we try our hand at.
“Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something. You got a dream, you gotta protect it. When people can’t do something themselves, they are going to tell you that you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period.” – Will Smith
2. Use social media to your advantage
We’re native users who have grown up with much of today’s technology (the main area being the internet and computers), but we have also learned to adapt to changes. Most millennials grew up during the transition from VHS to DVDs to Blu-Ray then to Netflix. This technological and social media savviness gives us the business edge – particularly when it comes to online business.
Even if you’re not a social media expert, or you’re not as proficient as you’d like to be, use your savviness with technology to learn more digital skills through avenues like online courses or YouTube. Social media is the holy grail of marketing in today’s business world. Sometimes, as native personal users, we take it for granted. You can take advantage of social media, and use it as your greatest asset when it comes to starting a business or side-hustle.
3. Network and collaborate
They say “your network is your net worth”. The people you meet on your business journey (including your existing family friends) are going to be crucial to your business success. So make sure you get out and network.
You could attend business networking meetings, conferences, participate in relevant business Facebook groups, collaborate with other businesspeople (you could even find a mentor), and build the all-important online community around your brand on your chosen social media channels.
Networking can lead to referrals which are one of the “golden nuggets” of business – they’re a powerful way to get new customer or clientele. So a strong network is what is going to help bring you those referrals.
4. Fail fast and learn fast
Remember that we have time on our side, but that doesn’t mean we should take it slow. When things aren’t working, when things have gone stagnant, or when things have gone wrong, we need to learn to pivot.
A good way to help pivot is to take on a learning mindset. Always be looking for new opportunities to not only upgrade yourself (personally, mentally and emotionally) but to upgrade your business, skills and systems as well.
See what other successful business people in your industry are doing or speaking about. Make sure you’re always keeping a tab on the latest developments and trends in the world of digital marketing and business. Being a ahead of the curve is crucial in today’s online business environment.
“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.” – Richard Branson
Building a business or side-hustle is going to take some sacrifice. Rather than buying the the most expensive and trendiest sneakers or the latest iPhone, invest that money into Facebook advertising, or an online course to help you up-skill.
Even though we live in the age of immediacy where everything is available to us at the tap of a finger on our smartphone, starting a business or side-hustle (let alone building it and sustaining it) is not easy. It takes hours and hours of work, late nights, sacrifice and self-doubts. You can’t expect it to be a quick process.
So while we’re young (and want to enjoy our youth while it lasts), when it comes to starting a business, there will be times when we need to make the choice between doing what everybody else our age is doing, or working in or on our business.
Of course, there needs to be a healthy ratio of work-life balance, but learning to sacrifice a few pleasures now (like going out on the town every Friday and Saturday night) will pay off in the long term when it comes to your business. With great sacrifice comes great reward.
Starting your own business or side-hustle when you’re in your 20s can be daunting yet incredibly thrilling at the same time. Whether you’re thinking about starting one or you’re already in the midst of the journey, put in the work and be proud of the path you’ve chosen – and remember that age is just a number!