Starting up can be both thrilling and agonizing. It’s thrilling when things go your way — a product launches seamlessly, you land a huge client, venture funding rolls in… The list surely goes on. Yet, there’s an underbelly to starting up that can be just as polarizing. Maybe you didn’t land funding but your competitor did. Or perhaps someone else launched your idea first.
The point is, in entrepreneurship there will be as many ups as there are downs. And contending with older, more established entrepreneurs may be par for the course.
Here’s how to turn your inexperience into an advantage:
Reframe your youth. Certainly, experience and time bring with them wisdom and profundity, but maybe these older treps have less flexibility and energy. As an eager entrepreneur with a new startup, you have a real advantage in the business world in many ways. Reframe your inexperience and present it as an advantage in the eyes of colleagues and potential investors. Additionally, when you’re presented with challenges and struggle with those initial successes, utilize your youthful vigor to keep experimenting and bounce back like entrepreneurial pinball.
Be humble and honest. When you’re entering the competitive world of business, it’s tempting to try and represent yourself in a way you think looks more impressive. Memorizing keywords and jargon, padding a resume, dressing the part, and attempting to convince people you’re someone else is ultimately counterproductive. While faking it until you’re making it can be a powerful behavioral tool, misrepresenting yourself comes off as artificial and desperate.
Instead, be honest with your colleagues and your growing network. Acknowledge your lack of experience, but also demonstrate your eagerness to learn. Astute older and more experienced individuals recognize the energetic power of youth and will be happy to have some of that energy in their presence.
If you’re getting rejected because of lack of experience, and you will face rejections, don’t fret too much. Keep moving forward and don’t compromise your ideals. Sooner or later, you’ll come across people who value your lack of entrenched bias and appreciate your ability to question traditional assumptions.
Keep an open mind. As you gain experience, it’s easy to become set in your ways and lose your passion and curiosity. Don’t fall into this trap. Instead, combine your youthful energy with hard work and become passionate about the learning process. Throw in a hearty dose of believing in yourself and you’ll soon become a force to be reckoned with.
All the while, never forget the creative muscle that helped propel you to success. Keep seeking fresh information, and keep surrounding yourself with imaginative and resourceful people, no matter their age.
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