How to overcome your age deficit as a young entrepreneur
March 7, 2013 by SGE
When you’re starting out young, it may be difficult at first to get potential clients or partners to take you seriously. Daniel Charles of Global Racing Schools was one such entrepreneur. Without knowledge and experience, he found it tough at first to get the attention of distributors and resellers and find an entry into the industry.
But many successful tech entrepreneurs today started out when they were barely out of college. So age certainly definitely isn’t insurmountable. To help you along in your journey, here is some useful advice, collated from the startup mentors at ASK ACE, an online platform for asking startup-related questions.
Hi, I’m a 22 year old entrepreneur who has problems clinching deals probably cos I look too young? I’ve got people asking me if I’m doing projects for school even. I’ve tried changing my wardrobe but it’s still not working. Any tips here? I don’t want to lie about my age but it seems like I have little choice.
Be honest and tell them you are 22 and is a business owner. It is not common for them to encounter entrepreneurs like you hence the reactions. Embrace it and learn from every meeting and try to improve. Do give them respect by dressing and speaking the way they do. If you have issues with styling do seek older friends or alumni who can help.
Derek Sivers, founder of CDBaby:
Mark Zuckerberg still looks 17. It’s not a problem. Definitely don’t lie about your age. Flaunt it! Whether old or young, obese or tiny, or someone with a birth defect, many people have first-impression problems they need to overcome. Just be prepared to show your intelligence when you speak. Speaking says infinitely more about a person than what they’re wearing. If you speak well and produce great results, you’ll be taken seriously.
I’ve personally collaborated with a business associate who is about your age, and looks much younger. What convinced me that the deal will work is his sincerity, courage, and determination to succeed. As an entrepreneur, you will face all sorts of challenges. Today it may be your youthfulness or your boyish looks, tomorrow it may be something else. I will encourage you to use these challenges as opportunities, rather than obstacles.
Pamela Phua, Account Director with Fleishman-Hillard:
At no point, should you be lying about your age. Lying is a surefire way to murder your credibility and once you lose it, you are ruining your business prospects.
Mark Hon, former professor of finance, accredited investor and executive director of the Global Intellectual Property Exchange:
You do not have to ‘dress older’ to impress your clients – just be appropriately dressed for the occasion… If you are in a line of business where most of your competitors are older than you are, use your age as a differentiating factor – older clients will appreciate your knowledge of the social media, android applications, media devices and the latest buzzwords.
Don’t give up – Larry and Sergey (Google), Mark (Facebook), Bill (Microsoft) launched their businesses when they were of college age.
Find out more about SGE’s research arm: SGE Insights, providing customized in-depth research reports to help you navigate the business of technology in Asia.
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Covering the Singapore and Southeast Asia startup and entrepreneurship scene since 2005.Read other posts by SGE