Many young people aspire for independence and success through entrepreneurship - at least in theory.
We've heard a lot regarding millennials' ambitions to be tech entrepreneurs, with 62% having considered the idea of starting a business. Few act on those aspirations, though, as the number of young people starting their own business is declining. All considered, this generation is now on-track to be less entrepreneurial than their predecessors.
Why Aren't Millennials Starting Businesses?
Environmental factors like high student loan debt and a difficult post-graduation job market played a part in keeping millennials from pursuing their goals. But I believe the core problem goes deeper and underlies this risk-averse attitude toward entrepreneurship: it's a crisis of confidence.
It's not bad to be cautious regarding risk. Putting your aspirations on hold indefinitely because conditions are not ideal, though, is incompatible with entrepreneurship. Aspiring business leaders need to get out there and lay it on the line if they want to find success.
There are a few simple pieces of advice, though, which I'd like to offer to these entrepreneurially-minded young people to help tip the scales in their favor:
1. Seek Guidance from Experience
There are plenty of successful entrepreneurs out there. At a certain point, someone has overcome just about any problem you could have.
What's great about entrepreneurial culture is that, more likely than not, people are eager to share their expertise and help others. Business leaders rely on the lessons they learn from those who came before them and showed them the ropes.
Looking back on my own experiences, I can recall several points where I let project management overshadow the advice provided to me by others. In just about every case, that proved to be the wrong decision; it would have been easier and more productive to accept the help of others when offered.
Of course, I'm not suggesting you should always go along with "expert" advice, even against your better judgement. While advice from those who have already found success is valuable, disregarding your own experiences because it's not what experts suggest can be worse. Follow your intuition - when it makes sense to seek advice, do so. But don't ever let it overrule your gut feeling.
2. Have the Right Attitude
Whether it's your first business or your 15th, things will never go exactly as you might hope they will. Remember: every entrepreneur makes mistakes, and sometimes, those mistakes can be very costly.
Entrepreneurial success is hard, and it won't happen overnight. You will experience failure at some point. What separates successful entrepreneurs from the pack is the approach they bring to failure.
Successful entrepreneurs are those who can take setbacks in stride and still maintain a positive outlook. They don't dwell on mistakes or underperformance; instead, they figure out how best to recover. Being able to make a mistake but still carry on suggests you have the right mindset and character necessary to be a leader.
The success of your business depends on your capacity for perseverance, dedication, and hard work. Possessing all three of these traits is far more important than shrewd business skills.
3. Be Adaptable
A successful tech company must do two things, above all else: identify and adapt to consumer demand, and deliver innovative technologies that can address that demand.
Tech is an incredibly disruptive field, so attempting to establish yourself as an upstart entrepreneur will be especially challenging. The key is to build your organization with agile development always at the forefront of your priorities. Being constantly aware that conditions change, industries shift, and new technologies make old strategies obsolete is vital to your success.
A good part of the reason we admire entrepreneurs so much is because of their vision. They're constantly challenging and advancing the state of the industry. Taking a reactive approach is simply incompatible with entrepreneurship.
4. Become the Expert
A good strategy is to define an underserved niche, then provide the best solution to fulfill the needs identified within that space. Once you develop an angle within your niche, you need to make yourself the expert on the subject.
This is where the passion you have for the topic really factors into the equation. Establishing yourself as the "go-to" thought leader makes you an indispensable resource, builds your brand equity, and can open up opportunities for your organization that would otherwise not be available. However, this will probably be the most difficult part of your entire job.
You need to stay one step ahead of the rest of the industry. Developing this level of insight into a topic means being able to perform predictive analysis and project where the industry is headed even before it happens.
5. Once You Make it, Pay it Forward
As I mentioned earlier, successful entrepreneurs are often willing to advise and encourage the next generation of changemakers. Why is this such a big part of entrepreneurial culture, though? Well, part of it is that it just feels good to help others, but successful entrepreneurs are also keenly aware that by helping others, they are helping themselves.
Success and innovation are locked in a feedback loop; each one propels the other. Experienced entrepreneurs know that innovation leads to new opportunities within that industry. Therefore, they want to help others innovate and achieve success so that the industry continues moving forward.
Once you find your path to success, remember to take some time and help others along their journey. In the end, all of that will pay off for you!
Monica Eaton-Cardone is the COO of Chargebacks911, the global leader for risk mitigation and chargeback management. Her company creates dynamic, scalable technologies to help innovative eCommerce merchants mitigate emerging threats. Connect with Monica on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.
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