Being young, in business, isn’t always easy – especially when you’re an entrepreneur.
Even though young entrepreneurs have been taking the world by storm for a century, especially in today’s digital age, there’s still a stigma around being a young hotshot in charge of a startup.
Older business professionals don’t always want to give you the time of day. They don’t always take your ideas seriously, or have high expectations of your success, or believe in you as a credible, responsible leader.
Respect certainly isn’t going to be just handed over to a young entrepreneur. But there are things you can do to get everyone – from potential investors and partners to clients and prospects – to take you more seriously and believe in your capabilities.
Develop and Exude Confidence
People believe in people who believe in themselves.
Develop confidence and learn how to portray the confidence you feel. Even if you don’t feel confident, you have to appear that way. As the saying goes, fake it until you make it.
Sometimes, entrepreneurs are supremely confident in their abilities to do what they do, but they’re not as confident in how they interact with important people, like investors. The best way to gain confidence in your professional interactions – whether it’s speaking or giving a pitch presentation – is to practice incessantly until you have the presentation down cold.
If you don’t feel all that confident in yourself as an entrepreneur, you will have a hard time attracting support and respect from those around you. Getting support and assistance from mentors can help you cultivate confidence as you learn how to trust in your own abilities.
Show Respect to Get Respect
The brash, cocky young entrepreneur is almost a meme. It’s certainly an eyesore. No one respects cockiness. At best, they may begrudgingly give way to an overly arrogant and disrespectful entrepreneur for business reasons, but they certainly won’t enjoy working with you if you’re like that and they’ll actively find any way to cut ties with you.
To get respect, you have to give respect. Respect not just those above you with more power and experience, but your peers. And respect those who are a few steps behind you, as well. Young entrepreneurs who show respect toward up-and-comers will likely have what it takes to show respect to veteran entrepreneurs and mentors.
Respect should be mutual. In business, mutual respect drives results and makes things happen. Be humble and hungry. Show respect and it’s more likely that it’ll be given to you in return.
Learn How to Show the Proof
If you’ve done great things or have gotten results, you have to learn how to show those results.
Don’t be afraid to talk about the successes you and your team have achieved. Learn how to share stories of what you’ve accomplished in a confident yet humble way. If that means working extra hard on a case study presentation, do it. If that means walking person after person through your story, that’s what it takes.
You have to accept that some people won’t take you seriously until you can show them some kind of solid proof that you’re worth listening to. If you’re just now getting started with your first venture, that’s okay – figure out how to put the best shine on what you’ve done up until this point.
Be Enthusiastic and Driven
People can overlook a lot of things – including a lack of experience – if the person they’re talking to is enthusiastic and driven.
Be passionate about what you’re doing. The excitement that comes from passion is contagious. So is the aura that comes from someone who is resolute and determined to achieve no matter what stands in the way.
Often, even if someone doesn’t ultimately believe in your vision, they may still believe in you through sheer force of personality. Few things are more appealing in an entrepreneur than drive. It’s what stands out the most about the most successful entrepreneurs out there, and it’s the key contributor to their achievements.
Show your enthusiasm and drive and you’ll get more respect for those things alone.
Young entrepreneurs do get disrespected and ignored on a daily basis, but if you’re confident, respectful, driven, and passionate about what you do, you’ll start to attract positive attention and get the respect you want.
EO Birmingham helps entrepreneurs get the knowledge, mentorship, and networking they need to succeed, from startup leaders to established executives. Learn more about joining our organization today.