How to Avoid the 3 Mistakes That Cost Young Entrepreneurs Credibility
Age is just a number -- but, then again, so is your annual revenue. Being a young entrepreneur is both a blessing and a curse. Unlike corporate America, we can take risks and iterate our businesses in real-time to figure out where profit opportunities lie. However, the curse lies in the learning curve. As young entrepreneurs, we’re often left to our own devices. There are no best practices or industry standards to abide by. We usually just make them up.
Mistakes are a right of passage for young entrepreneurs. In fact, some of the world’s most successful business owners fail before hitting it big. However, some missteps are obvious, glaring FAILs and may put a dent in your newfound authority. Here are three mistakes young entrepreneurs make that may jeopardize their credibility:
The average internet user spends 1.72 hours on social media per day. For young entrepreneurs, using social media to share the monotony of our everyday lives has become the norm. Tweeting about the economics of a new deal? Instagraming your jet-setting lifestyle? Facebooking your vacation Speedo pics? Just remember, once it’s public it’s out there for all to see -- including your investors, board members, employees and clients. Similar to publicist Justine Sacco getting the boot after a seemingly racist tweet, I once had an employee who decided to use her personal Twitter account to tweet about how difficult our brand client was. Needless to say, brand reps use social media too and without a nomme de plume, this mid-level social media manager was quickly busted and, unfortunately, fired. When in doubt, keep your private life and thoughts just that, private.
2. Hiring friends and family
Friends and money don’t mix. Loans become gifts, favors become chores and friendships are often times spoiled. As young entrepreneurs, our intuition is to hire those we know and love. We want to surround ourselves with people we like and share in the wealth of our new ventures. The biggest mistake you can make in growing a company is to hire people who are underqualified to take on crucial roles and responsibilities. Just because your friend graduated with an accounting degree doesn’t mean he should be your CFO. It’s imperative to the success of our companies that we hire people who compensate for our shortcomings. For example, if creative is not your strength, find the best creative director out there. Chances are it’s not your sister.
As Charles Darwin said, “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than knowledge.” When you find success at an early age, there’s a tendency to develop an ego. You look around the marketplace and see competitors twice your age doing half the business. It’s a mistake we tend to make when sitting pretty among the competition. We throw them or their business under the bus in order to celebrate our own success. Don’t let your own arrogance get in the way. Remember, there will always be a bigger, more successful company than yours. Learn from those around you; don’t trash them. Building credibility is paramount to the success of your business. Be conscious of easily-avoided mistakes that may tarnish your authority. As Steve Jobs said, “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” Don’t let your age define your work, let your work speak for itself.
Adam S. Wescott is a partner and founder of Select Management Group and its entertainment arm SelectNext. He’s spent over ten years working with talent and creating content in the digital and entertainment industry. Adam is also a contributing author to YouTube Channels for Dummies (Wiley, April 2015).