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Build a profitable business- the baby steps part 4

Here in, “Build a profitable business- the baby steps part 4″, we are going to deal with a question we have encountered a lot when we have given lectures on life as an entrepreneur. The question of age. We have found that this is one of the most persistent topics, and since it appears way to often than we would have guessed, we figured we should adress it here. First of all, there is no such thing as being to old. We get that a lot. “I´m way to old to start a business”.  While we do understand that a 100-year old in some cases would be unable to start certain types of entreprises, we don´t understand why a 30-year old can come to the same conclusion. We´ve spoken to people who were 25-26 years old who figured they were too old. That´s nonsense.

You could start a business anytime in your life as long as you feel you have the passion, stamina and time. You need the passion to stand the hard work involved. You need stamina to be able to put in the long hours over a number of years. And you need time, because in most cases it takes at least a couple of years before a business starts to take off. We know of a 65-year old who got so tired of being retired he started an educational company. He simply started educating people and sharing with them what he had learned during a lifetime of being a bigtime manager and professional negotiator. He didn´t start the business because he needed the money, but boy did he strike gold. He expanded his business over a number of years and he has been approached with hefty takeover bids a number of times. So far he has declined them. He is over 70 years old today, as we write this.

We don´t see age as a problem. The only time age becomes a problem for the budding entrepreneur is when you start seeing age as a problem. Your beliefs will put severe limits on your true potential, and if you are restricted in terms of what you believe you can achieve, chances are that these beliefs will negatively affect your entrepreneurial success as well as your life. While age is not an issue for the entrepreneur, age plays a major role in determining which type of advice we would give you as an entrepreneur starting out. Age will also in many cases determine what kind of risk and what kind of business area might be suitable.

For instance, if you are 19 years old with no family and little responsibilities our advice would be simple and straightforward. Go do whatever you like. As long as you do something. We believe that the business area, business idea and business knowledge shouldn´t be a concern of yours. As long as you get your hands dirty and actually give it an honest try you will gain so much in terms of experience, knowledge and new skills. On top of that you will learn a lot about yourself as a person which is a real advantage in such an early age. Although some of us hold fancy degrees from prestigous business schools, we know that the best business school isn´t to be found in tradition-bound classrooms. The best business schools are to be found in the everyday life of the hardworking entrepreneur.

One of our colleagues told us he had learned more in 2 years as an entrepreneur than he did during the previous 20 years as an employee. That is a pretty powerful statement considering the type of position this individual held at his former employer. But we know the truth of these words all too well. If you pay attention you can pick up more wisdom than you thought possible, in a very short period of time as an entrepreneur. You get to try it all. Selling, negotiating, bookkeping, lecturing, motivating, being a leader, networking, strategic business planning, writing, convincing others, competing. Those are just some of the skills you will probably develop as an entrepreneur. You should know your way around law, finance and management. You should be equally good at writing as you are talking on the phone or selling face to face. All these required skills will challenge you and keep you on your toes. And by being on your toes, by constantly being dragged out of your comfort zone, by constantly being forced to stare into the face of adversity and finding new ways to overcome it, you will keep learning. Moreover, you will keep growing and developing both as a person and as an entrepreneur.

Age is but one of the many aspects one needs to consider before taking the leap into self-employment. We feel it is one of the lesser aspects. Other things to consider play a far more important role. It´s not really so much about your age as it is about where you find yourself in life. In other words: are you living a life that is entrepreneur compatible? Do you have kids, if so how old are they? Do you have any major responibilities at the time? How is your health? Do you have the finances and education to start up a business? What´s you overall life situation like? Is your spouse supportive of your entrepreneurial vision? These are all questions we would rather ask a potential entrepreneur than the question regarding what age they are. Entrepreneurial success is is merciful regarding your age

We sometimes stumble on the excuse; ”I´m way too young to start a business”. This, we find even more ridiculous than the notion of being too old. Being young and being fearful of starting a business just doesn´t make sense to us. Your whole life is one gigantic risk. Why not embrace that fact, and try your wings out while they are still fresh and unscathed by the shackles of conventional wisdom. If you win, there is no better time to win than while you are still young and you have plenty of time to enjoy the fruits of your labour. If you lose, there is no better time to lose than when you are young, free and have a minimum of responsibilities. You will have plenty of chances to start over again. Youth is the next best thing to being bullet proof as an entrepreneur. Besides, we feel it is impossible for a young entrepreneur to lose. Sure, they might not succeed in their first business enterprise. But the skill sets, experience and personal growth that accompanies their first adventures as entrepreneurs will prove invaluable in the future. We know this to be true.

It´s time to take a look at what is probably one of the most important skill sets that an entrepreneur needs to possess in order to make it. They don´t teach this skill at the top schools. In fact, we find that most business books doesn´t even acknowledge the importance of this skill. We think that has to do with the fact that many business books are written by people who have little experience of doing business or being successful entrepreneurs. What sounds good in theory is rarely what will fill your pockets in real life. Let´s take a look at this “mysterious” skill set in the next part of our guide, ”Build a profitable business- the baby steps part 5″. Come along for the ride!



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