Exciting times for young entrepreneurs

GO NEGOSYO PILIPINAS ANGAT LAHAT! - Joey Concepcion - The Philippine Star

Being a young entrepreneur has its challenges. I remember being one myself, several decades ago. As a teenager, I found the prospect of building my own business to be exciting; made even more so by the thought of doing it without the inherent advantages of being born into a family of businessmen.

These thoughts are front and center to me lately because all systems are go for Go Negosyo’s Youthpreneur event this Saturday. Several schools will be participating and sending over their senior high school students to come and learn from the veteran entrepreneurs who will be there to mentor them.

Speaking from experience, being an entrepreneur at a young age can be an exciting and fulfilling journey. But it does have its challenges.

Unlike older, more established businessmen, young entrepreneurs can be disadvantaged by their limited track record, lack of established networks, and fewer resources. And then there’s the matter of balancing entrepreneurship with the task of completing formal education or building a career in the corporate world.

On the other side of the coin, young upstarts do bring something valuable to the table. Fresh ideas and a strong grasp of digital technology are among the more obvious advantages. To these, I would add their deeper understanding of the Gen Z and younger markets, which is a much sought-after skill given how big this demographic is.

Time can address challenges like the lack of track record and experience. Funding nowadays is not as big a problem as it used to be, given the number of accessible business loans, grants, crowdfunding options, and even venture capital that are available to young entrepreneurs with solid business plans. My opinion is that finding a good mentor might be an even more difficult task.

When embarking on an entrepreneurial journey, the wisdom and guidance of experienced mentors and older professionals are invaluable. Their expertise and insights can provide the support and confidence a young startup needs. Seeking the help of more experienced professionals and industry veterans can help bridge any perceived experience gap and provide access to extensive networks. This collaboration can bring diverse perspectives and valuable resources to an entrepreneurial journey.

However, mentors come in all shapes and sizes. When in business, we must not overlook the immense value of learning from peers. Yes, it is possible to learn from your contemporaries; other young entrepreneurs who are navigating the same path also have their lessons to share. Just as mentors offer guidance, peers provide a unique perspective that can be just as enlightening and empowering.

One of the most significant advantages of connecting with fellow young entrepreneurs is the shared experiences encountered along the entrepreneurial journey. The challenges and hurdles are often similar, and by connecting with their peers, young entrepreneurs gain insights into how others have tackled these obstacles, overcome setbacks, and achieved success. This shared experience is a rich source of practical (and current) advice as well as a sense of relatability.

Moreover, young entrepreneurs bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to the table. Engaging with one’s peers is an opportunity to exchange ideas, brainstorm, and collaborate on new approaches to problem-solving. This dynamic exchange of thoughts and insights can spark creativity and open up the possibility of unconventional solutions. It can even challenge conventional thinking and push us to consider new possibilities we may not have otherwise explored.

Building connections with other young entrepreneurs also creates a powerful support system that, hopefully, will last for years. Within this network, entrepreneurs can share triumphs, failures, and valuable lessons. This support system also provides motivation, encouragement, and a sense of camaraderie during the most challenging times for an entrepreneur. Moreover, the success stories of peers can be a source of inspiration and a reminder that they are not alone in the journey.

Networking with peers also opens doors to collaboration. I see this often, especially with those in the creative industries; I also notice that young entrepreneurs are almost always open to collaborations. These can lead to partnerships, joint ventures, or shared marketing initiatives that can spread out the risk and costs. The power of collaboration is immense, and by leveraging the strengths and expertise of peers, there can be exponential growth and shared success.

That young entrepreneurs almost always come from diverse fields is also an advantage. They are at a time in their journey when they are exploring so many options. Once they engage with peers from different backgrounds and industries, they are exposed to a wealth of knowledge and perspectives; they get to know different markets, business models, and strategies. This exposure broadens horizons and encourages innovative thinking. I enjoy talking to young entrepreneurs during our public mentoring events; I come out of it richer with their perspective and refreshed by their enthusiasm.

Learning from other young entrepreneurs is not just a way to gain insights, inspiration, and practical knowledge – it is a necessary step for aspiring business leaders. Through shared experiences, fresh perspectives, peer support, collaboration opportunities, and exposure to various industries, entrepreneurs – young and old – can enhance their entrepreneurial journey and increase their chances of success.

However, I must emphasize that learning from other young entrepreneurs should not replace the value of learning from experienced mentors or collaborating with older professionals. Rather, the wisdom of veteran entrepreneurs should complement the relatable, peer-to-peer perspective that is relevant to the early stages of entrepreneurship. As the wise say, the young may travel fast, but the elders know the road.

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