Why Age Doesn't Matter

If you're a true entrepreneur, you'll make your idea work, no matter how young you are.

By Karen E. Spaeder

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q:I'm a 20-year-old college student, and I have many ideas-I justdon't know how plausible they are. But how possible is it for a20-year-old to start a company?

A: Thereal question is, how possible is it for anyone to start abusiness? Age matters little; take a look at the TeenStartUps.com section of Entrepreneur.com, andyou'll find that out pretty quickly. While there was a timewhen young entrepreneurs were looked at as failures waiting tohappen, nowadays most people look at a potential entrepreneur'sdrive to succeed rather than the year he or she was born.

You remind me of a lot of entrepreneurs we've written aboutin the past. Each November, we run a special "YoungMillionaires" feature in Entrepreneur to spotlightsuccessful entrepreneurs under 40 who have achieved a high level ofsales success. Entrepreneur Press has published a whole volumedevoted to young entrepreneurs, How to Be a Teenage Millionaire. Virtually every issueof Entrepreneur includes success stories of people just likeyou who are either currently young entrepreneurs or who were youngwhen they started out.

We celebrate their achievements because we know that mostentrepreneurs have dreamed of starting a business for many, manyyears--possibly since they were children. Entrepreneurshipisn't something that crops up in your 40s or 50s and suddenlymakes sense just because you're a little older. It'sgenerally something that's ingrained. And when a personchooses to pursue entrepreneurship is not as important ashow he or she goes about doing it.

It's no surprise to me that you have "many ideas."Most entrepreneurs get tons of ideas before settling on the onethat they want to focus the most energy on. Consider your manybrainstorms a reflection of the creativity that makes you anentrepreneurial hopeful. Without that creativity, you wouldn'teven imagine venturing out of your comfort zone and starting abusiness.

By the way, it's rather uncomfortable to start a business.Having a lot of ideas is actually not a very pleasant thing, as youmight have discovered by now. It can be frustrating to go throughyour days with dozens of ideas bouncing about it your head, notknowing which one is "the one." Wouldn't it be easierif someone would just tell you which business to start?

If you're getting the feeling that I'm answering yourquestion with a question, you get a gold star. And perhaps I'mcheating a bit in doing so. Perhaps you wanted a structured outlineof steps to take in starting your business. My apologies, but Iwon't give that to you. That's not to say there aren'tspecific steps to take when starting a business-just that at thisstage of the game, I'd much rather inspire you to find your ownsolutions. Take your own first steps, knowing that doing so willmake you a better, smarter, stronger entrepreneur who is preparedto tackle any challenge.

Once you've settled on the idea that you want to pursue-andyou'll know it when you see it-then you can focus on specificssuch as a business plan, marketing objectives and financing. Butuntil then, relish this idea stage. Take your time, and be thankfulthat you are young, with a road ahead that won't leave yourestless, itching to pull over at a rest stop and break away fromsomething as mundane as a 9-to-5 job.

Karen E. Spaeder is editor of Entrepreneur.com and managingeditor ofEntrepreneur magazine.

The opinions expressed in this column are thoseof the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended tobe general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areasor circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consultingan appropriate expert, such as an attorney oraccountant.

Karen E. Spaeder

Karen E. Spaeder is a freelance business writer in Southern California.

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