Why Being Young, Inexperienced and Weird Can Help You Get Ahead
One myth I would really love to smash to bits is the notion that only a certain type of person can be successful in business. I meet far too many people who tell me they’d love to be an entrepreneur, but don’t think they could be themselves and do well in the business world.
One of my entrepreneur clients is in her mid-20s, and everything about her-from her clothing and hair, to her hip downtown business-screams counterculture-hippy-flower-child. She lives in a town known for conservative tastes and values, so it’s little wonder that she feels like an unwelcome misfit among other local business owners. She doesn’t feel like they take her seriously because she lacks experience and credentials, not to mention a clean-cut image befitting a business person.
Oh, how I could relate. This young woman reminded me so much of my 25-year-old self when I started my first business, only my fashion sensibilities leaned more towards Lululemon yoga pants than dreadlocks and hemp. I remember feeling pressured to maintain a ‘responsible’ image even though I insisted on dressing casually. My business partners and investors were mainly middle-aged men, so I felt like my age, gender and personal style left me with a lot to prove.
For a while, I avoided telling people my age because I assumed they would see it as an instant strike against me. And likely, some of them did.
But seven years and four businesses later, here’s what I’ve learned: all those supposed weaknesses can be your biggest selling features, if you’re brave enough to embrace them. For me, being young and inexperienced meant I wasn’t accustomed to ‘business as usual’ and felt free to experiment with strange business strategies that worked really well for me