Five Attributes that Give Young Entrepreneurs A Competitive Edge : Under30CEO Five Attributes that Give Young Entrepreneurs A Competitive Edge : Under30CEO
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Five Attributes that Give Young Entrepreneurs A Competitive Edge

| April 10, 2011 | 10 Comments


I hear this phrase quite often when I meet older business owners for the first time, “I wish I started my business at your age.” While being a Gen Y entrepreneur has it’s fair share of pros and cons, I can understand why most people would think that. Starting a business in your twenties affords you opportunities that clients and colleagues will appreciate when working with you. Many of today’s best-known entrepreneurs started their business when they were very young including Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Mark Zuckerberg. Below are five major attributes that can be helpful for young entrepreneurs in growing their business.


Younger entrepreneurs are still at an age where they are seeing the world quite differently than older counterparts. Our generation views the idea of “work” somewhat differently and instead focuses on what we can contribute to society through our interests and talents. For example, Part of Richard Branson’s passion lies in his insatiable appetite for starting companies. Founded in 1970, the Virgin Group has expanded to more than 200 companies. Branson is famous for his adventurous streak and zest for life, making him one of the most admired entrepreneurs for his ability to have a successful work/life balance.

Risk Taker

Being a risk taker is one of the most important qualities in being an entrepreneur. Starting almost any business is risky, even if it is a calculated risk. Younger entrepreneurs can tend to roll with the punches and remain fairly optimistic about their startup. Also, younger entrepreneurs don’t have the financial responsibilities older counterparts do which can allow them to take a fair amount of risk. This will give you have a better chance of succeeding as an entrepreneur.

Desire to Innovate

All entrepreneurs have a passionate desire to do things better and to improve their products or service. I’ve found though younger entrepreneurs are open to experimentation and not bogged down with traditional mindset. This could be attributed to Gen Y entrepreneurs not being exposed to corporate structure for a long period of time.


Entrepreneurs are climbing a wall of opposition as they struggle to manage the many goals, tasks and constantly evolving problems of the new organization. Furthermore, many entrepreneurs fail many times when trying to start a small business, and the ones who succeed are the ones who can persevere through failure and try again. While younger entrepreneurs sometimes has the disadvantage of lack of experience, the most driven ones will find ways around that through a willingness to learn new tools or find people who can do that particular task.


Projects will fail no matter how many times you may try to work with a particular idea. Many young entrepreneurs get upset when their first idea does not instantly begin making them millions of dollars, or even if the project never really gets off the ground. While some ideas will be a big success, a major part of becoming a successful entrepreneur is luck. Being an entrepreneur requires a certain amount of fearlessness to chase after a dream.

Andrea Walker is CEO of W. Social Marketing, an interactive marketing solutions & management firm for small businesses. Focused on B2B & B2C social media marketing, online community management and new media development.

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  • Anonymous

    “Risk taking” is definitely the biggest thing for young entrepreneurs. When I look back at my life, say 8 or 9 years ago when I was 20, I took some risks and a lot of them worked out really well, but I can’t help but wish that I took bigger risks. So, when I bump into young entrepreneurs, I’m the first person to tell them to take as many risks as possible, measure carefully and build on the risks which are successful.

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  • Craig S

    Andrea – Risking capital at a young age = Dad’s cash!
    Us older entrepreneurs hold the keys to the bank. Do your research, develop a plan and show lots of ROI for Dad. Oh- and remember the “Fur Coat for Momma”- not literally, just an old saying from the heady .com days.

    Fearlessness can come after the school loans are paid.

    There aren’t many young cats running VC firms-yet.

  • Dean

    Great post, but have to disagree with “becoming a successful entrepreneur is luck”. If you methodically plan for success, eliminate EVERYTHING that can stand in your way, and truly live your venture (as opposed to just talking it up to impress girls/guys at bars), success will come. That’s not luck, it’s simply being prepared and fully invested in your project.

  • Virtual office assistant

    Great post!!
    Taking risks always pays off and some times kicks back. So we can learn from our mistakes and take bigger risks to achieve great things.

  • Sylvia Scott

    Hi Andrea-as a female entrepreneur that is older than 30, yes I am a baby boomer you have some real misconceptions of “older” entrepreneurs and perhaps may never have worked along side a woman who began her business over the age of 30. I am not being critical of you by any means-I think you have some very inaccurate misconceptions although one of your points is totally  and completely on target.

    What’s on target:  Risk Taker:  The older a man or woman gets the riskier it is to start a business IF there are family considerations such as funding for a child’s high school or college education, paying off the mortgage or high credit card debt, especially in today’s economy.  That being said, if you are a high school or college student who wants to be an entrepreneur you will still need a family support systerm.  IF you are a recent college graduate will becoming an entrepreneur pay off your loans and do you have the credit rating needed to start a business and grow it.

    The reason older busienss owners say to you “I wish I started my business at your age” is because they really do-they wanted to do so-they had the entrepreneurial spirit, the drive , the passsion , they were fearless, they had the desire to innovate and they would have perseversed.  Why didn’t they do it?  First of all it was not “acceptable” in their family or college culture.  Especially if you talk to women.  No matter what entrepreneurs need some type of support system.  OR  in some cases with the “older” generation there was an economical need to start a business.  Look at it this way, Bill Gates was a total geek-would you have listened to him in high school or college ?  Richard Branson is not a kid -he is totally ADD which is fine-he is also a great sales person and is most defintely a product of his upbringing.  Not all entrepreneurs were in the corporate world while many from the corporate world learned how to take risks in that environment.

    They are two very very important points you are missing in your observation: 1)  Get a mentor who will not only guide you as a young entrepreneur but will also teach you business etiquette. There are things you will not learn in college business courses that only an experienced wise businessperson can teach you
     2) VC and angel funding is only for the very very few-seriously for the very few. Shark Tank is for the very very few and as you might have recently seen Onesoles has been in business for what 7 years -she is no spring chicken.  Being a young entrepreneur has many advantages yet so does the “older” generation.  In some respects they understand relationship building, humility and the importance of integrity.  Right now Facebook & Mark Z’s integrity level is a negative -if you need to ask why?  Talk to Google.

  • Lior Fleischman

    Besides, some startups can just not be created by people over the age of 30. Take a look at swifto for example….

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