By Jack Parsons
Being young and an entrepreneur certainly comes with challenges. Among these challenges is gaining the respect of those around you, including the older generation of business leaders. Through hard work, trial, error, and engaging with numerous successful people, you can learn a lot. Here are a few tips on how be taken seriously as a young entrepreneur:
Build a Portfolio
This is the most critical of the five steps that you should consider. You need a backing, a calling card, proof that you can deliver as a first time entrepreneur to potential clients. Validation is key. You need to have a portfolio, a case study, an example of what it is that you are trying to sell that you have delivered in the past.
Build a Reputation
When you begin working with others, focus on maintaining the highest quality of customer service possible, create the best product possible, and make sure to really learn your clients. And don’t just talk about their businesses! Learn about them. What do they like? What are they into? What are their passions? What can you learn from them?
Use the Networks of Others
Circling back from above, use the networks of your first customers to your advantage. Odds are, most entrepreneurs know other entrepreneurs. Most executives know other executives. Most sales people know others in sales. We all talk and network with one another, especially in the same verticals, when it comes to our industries. Odds are, that means they know your exact target audience, since you’re already working with them.
Dress the Part
It is proven that when you dress well, people take you seriously, no matter how young or old you are. Make it a point every day to always wear a button up and, at least, presentable clothing around that. Do the same. Dress how you would want people to treat you and to think of you. Show that you care about yourself as much as you care about your new business venture and your customers.
Leverage Your Young Age to Your Advantage
This is honestly the most underrated aspect of being a young entrepreneur– people eat up a great story. Nothing was better than the free publicity you can use to get from colleagues, clients, and even the media about being a 16-18 year old entrepreneur with a thriving and growing business. People love this, because it is that classic underdog story; it is the story of someone doing something most people dream about doing.
And above all, it makes a great story. Leverage this to your advantage for free advertising, free word of mouth, and free traction, which you cannot leverage later on life. This is an opportunity of a lifetime for some – use it.