Young Entrepreneurs May Be Idealistic But Are Also Effective

There’s a conversation that has happened a couple of times when I’ve met a client in person for the first time. Because of the types of clients I actively look for, many of the people that I work with are a generation older than I am. We generally get to trot out a few words on how I’m younger than they expected, maybe a few comments about how they wish their own children were pushing towards their own goals with a little more excitement.

Especially when I hear that last bit, though, I’m always a little irked. Not only do I feel that I’m not really young for entrepreneurship, I don’t know anything about these wayward offspring I’m being compared to. There may be a very good reason that they aren’t ready to be entrepreneurs. In my experience, there are an incredible number of young entrepreneurs out in the world, and the people our age who aren’t entrepreneurs are well aware of their opportunities. On top of that, I’m no where near the youngest entrepreneur I know. I’ve met some phenomenal CEOs who have to be home by curfew, let alone can’t even get into the bar with the rest of us. In general, age has nothing to do with it.

In Specific, Though, It’s All About Youthful Idealism

The big difference between younger entrepreneurs and those with a few more years on ‘em is a question of idealism more than anything else. It’s not energy, new ideas or anything else that someone might like to ascribe to a younger business owner.

It’s absolutely a matter of youthful idealism. While I may joke about it as much as anyone else, that youthful idealism is a big deal. While many organizations devoted to entrepreneurship, small business and the like have big memberships, they aren’t known for moving particularly quickly at lobbying and the like. There’s a certain slow and steady mentality at work. That’s all well and good; the organizations in this category do accomplish many things.

But they don’t pivot on a dime to respond to new situations. The wide eyed young entrepreneurs at work in organizations like the Young Invincibles and the Young Entrepreneurs Council are using that idealism to jump start the legislative process on creating rewards for young entrepreneurs who create jobs, in the form of relieving student loan debt. (Read the full article from MSN and, for full disclosure, I’m a member of the YEC.)

A Million Dollar Business or Something that Keeps the Lights On

Whether you’re creating a few hundred jobs with your business or you’re getting your own bills paid, do what you can to hold on to your own youthful idealism. It’s what makes you effective, even if you don’t have twenty years of experience under your belt.

There’s plenty of truth to the suggestion that, if you don’t know something can’t be done, you can go out and accomplish it, after all.

Image by Flickr user Mathstop

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Charles Moore September 6, 2011 at 10:27 am

Good post. I guess I’m the exception, ’cause in my 50s I’ve managed to keep every bit of my youthful idealism! http://db.tt/yk2oqG2 (Does that mean the best of both worlds — seasoned *and* idealistic? ;-)

In the “While many organizations devoted to…” sentence, do you mean to have an “are” and “and” there?

Thanks, and keep up the good work — and the idealism, of course.

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thursday September 7, 2011 at 9:36 am

Glad to hear that you’ve got that idealism still — it does seem like you’ve got the best of both worlds!

I’m afraid that since I’m the only one here, sometimes typos do sneak through. Thanks!

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Becky Blanton September 6, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Take it as a compliment. I’m guessing in 99% of the meetings you have had with older folks that it’s meant that way. I’m 55 and could care less what age an entrepreneur is. But for a mother/father to want their child to show qualities a stranger has is always a compliment. It’s typically an expression of admiration, not criticism. I’ve kept my youthful idealism and excitement, but not my looks – making my younger clients assume I’m “too old” to understand what they want. Works both ways. Enjoy it now while you’re getting it. In 20 years you’ll appreciate it even more!

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thursday September 7, 2011 at 9:41 am

Well, I don’t take it as an insult. But I’ve gotten requests to actually sit down with said kids and get them interested in entrepreneurship before — and I don’t think it’s fair to either of us to assume that everyone should make that kind of switch. I’m grateful that clients think that I do a good job, but I would really prefer if they’d be willing to focus on the fact that I work my rear end off.

And for the record, I definitely see a lot of excitement in your photo and in your website — and plenty of that youthful idealism! I think you have more energy than I do.

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Alexis Grant September 8, 2011 at 8:38 am

AWESOME post, Thursday. You’re so right! Love that last line.

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thursday September 9, 2011 at 11:30 am

Thanks! Glad you liked it!

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