Editor’s Note: College ‘Treps is a weekly column in which college and graduate school-based entrepreneurs tackle the topic of entrepreneurship on their campus. Follow this column on Twitter using the hashtag #CollegeTreps.
We live in a day where anyone can make a significant impact and neither age nor experience are the only determining factors for success. But don’t kid yourself: Starting up when you’re young remains an uphill battle.
When we started Jacox-Hilton, a Peterborough, Ontario-based company that offers life insurance policy analysis software called lifeAssist, we knew our technology could revolutionize the industry. But, we didn’t realize how challenging it would be to convince others of our product’s potential. As if our age wasn’t a great enough obstacle, we also lacked years of relevant experience and possessed an idea that challenged the norms of conducting business in our industry.
But a young age doesn’t have to be an impediment to starting up. Here are three ways to turn your immaturity and lack of experience into assets:
1. Reduce the risk. In the beginning, your highest priority shouldn’t necessarily be to land a big deal, but to get experience and establish credibility. Asking any company to invest big bucks into an unproven concept managed by inexperienced students is going to be considered high risk.
So, for your first deal, try to make it as appealing as possible for a company to work with you. You shouldn’t work for free, but it would be wise to make your compensation contingent on your client’s success.
2. Produce results. Once you land your first opportunity, and it could take a while, it’s time to prove the value of your product or service. Bear in mind that your concept of success could be quite different than what your client thinks.
Learn as much as possible about their expectations early on. Additionally, identify metrics and conservative goals you can use to measure success throughout the course of the project. Then, focus 100 percent on exceeding their expectations, while keeping an eye on each metric you establish.
3. Promote success. You’re now likely exhausted, and you’ve hopefully succeeded in delivering more value than your first client expected. Promote the heck out of your, and their, success. Actions speak far louder than words — and age, in this case.
What are your tips for building credibility as a young entrepreneur? Share them in the comments section below.
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