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