As I meet our amazing guest speakers at the numerous events we host, I occasionally ask for words of inspiration and encouragement to pass along to our attendees and clients as they move along their journey as entrepreneurs. What strikes me most as I receive those quotes is the similarity in the statements to encourage those who meet opposition due merely to their age.
These words, I believe, are especially vital when it concerns those labeled as Generation X & Generation Y. Many in this group are routinely met with skepticism on both personal and professional levels. Ideas and excitement are blown off and condescending statements are made in just; “Oh, you’re still wet behind the ears” and “Do I smell Similac®?” Ha, ha, h…yeah, not funny. Regardless of the form in which this skepticism presents itself, subtle or blatant and regardless of the intent behind it, if you give power to it, it will chip away at your confidence, cause you to doubt your ability or idea, or worse – push you to retreat back to safer more well traveled roads.
If you are met with doubt and start to question your ability in comparison to “someone more experienced” consider these words from Eric Corl, Idea Buyer, LLC, panelist from our Take That Idea to Market panel, October 2007.
"In my mind, there isn't a better time to start a business then when you're in your early twenties. People will tell you that you don't have enough experience but experience is more situational based than time based. You meet a lot of older managers who think they have 15 years of experience when it's really 1 year repeated 15 times. What is really important is situational experience which can be enhanced by reading, mentors, and most importantly - massive action. Start young and build on that. Get going and don't let anything hold you down."
Using Eric’s example, anyone could understand how when up against someone with 15 years experience in a particular industry one could be intimidated, but don’t discount your experience just yet. Your exposure to today’s technology, other industries, or additional domestic and global markets could very well put you on equal footing, trump your competition or at the least, keep you in the game.
Another sentiment that frequently arose from entrepreneurs was regarding failure, or at least the perception of it:
Matthew Leitz, RealEstateInvestor.com, panelist from our Take That Idea to Market panel, October 2007, and Be the Boss! Student Entrepreneurship Conference, October 2008.
"You will have plenty of people who will doubt you; it just comes with trying to do something big. It is important to pay attention to the naysayers because they will be one of your greatest forms of motivation. All the greatest names in history have failed time and time again but they all realized that criticism from those who have never failed themselves carries very little value. I would rather fail a hundred times over than to allow the fear of failure to keep me forever wondering what if."
And through the words of a couple of other greats…
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”
Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the U.S., From a speech given in Paris at the Sorbonne in 1910
“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
The moral here? Regardless of who doubts you, regardless of how many times you fail, if it is your heart’s desire, press on. Keep your eye on the prize, and never, ever give up…