As an entrepreneur who just graduated college this year, former classmates often ask me how they can start their own business. Some come to me with great ideas, yet when I ask them what they’ve done to advance their concepts, the answer is usually nothing.
Anyone can start a business, regardless of his or her age. Your age should be looked at as an opportunity, not a limitation.
At the Next Generation Summit, an influential conference for some of the world’s youngest entrepreneurs, age was never in question. At this conference, I realized millennial entrepreneurs share some powerful characteristics. Millennial entrepreneurs shared a vision for success that stood out from an older crowd.
These millennial entrepreneurs bring different perspectives to traditional industries. This outlook leads to innovation that make people’s lives easier.
Will Caldwell, as an example, started Dizzle, a startup that makes customized mobile apps for real estate agents. There apps enable real estate agents to stay actively engaged with their clients long after handing them keys to their new home. Startups like Will’s that foster a new medium for interaction in a traditional industry showcase the impact millennials can have on innovation.
As I spoke with the group at the Next Generation Summit, I came to realize that millennial entrepreneurs share the following three key characteristics:
When speaking with young entrepreneurs I realized that everyone focuses on opportunity. We don’t get scared by competition or a large incumbent. Instead our drive stems from a opportunistic outlooks towards the future.
When Jackson Trott started Cruze, an on-campus transportation provider, he wasn’t worried about Uber, the elephant in the room of on-demand transportation. He focused his vision around the opportunity to foster ridesharing among college campuses in a eco friendly way. Cruze operates Tuk Tuk vehicles that run 100% on electricity. If Jackson hadn’t looked at a niche opportunity in the market, Cruze would have never come to life.
One of the most inspiring traits of a young entrepreneur is their ability to be resourceful. If they need help with something, they aren’t afraid to reach out and ask. In my mind, this stems from the communities high schools and colleges are building around entrepreneurs. It is now commonplace to have popular entrepreneurship clubs across university campuses.
As an example, the entrepreneurship club at the University of South Carolina provides its members with free tools for help with web design, search engine optimization, manufacturing, and more. This enables young entrepreneurs to be resourceful among their community while having access to the tools they need to succeed.
3. Spongelike nature.
Entrepreneurship is a learning process and you always need to be soaking everything you can, just like a sponge. If you’re not willing to learn, think about leaving the startup world. The more you learn, the better.
When I was starting Sourcify, a platform that enables entrepreneurs to find the right manufacturer in minutes, I spoke with as many manufacturing experts as I could. I would have calls with consultants across China and with entrepreneurs around the world. This approach enabled me to understand the problems an entrepreneur faces when trying to produce a physical product. I soaked in this information to position Sourcify in a way that addresses the crucial pain points entrepreneurs must overcome when manufacturing.
As a millennial entrepreneur, you’ll be facing people twice your age with twice the experience. These characteristics are what you have and they don’t. You need to foster your ability to innovate and think outside the box to be successful. Conventional wisdom rarely works for millennial entrepreneurs and if you’re looking to succeed you better start sooner than later!