Company mergers require gutsy decision-making and strategic relationship-building. For young startups, expanding business operations is usually the ultimate goal, and mergers are an effective way to accomplish this objective. Herein lies the problem. The expansion dreams of hundreds of young entrepreneurs are blocked by the fact that they are, indeed, young entrepreneurs. I know from experience that age can be a daunting barrier when looking to expand in the business world.
Why Age Can Be an Entrepreneur’s Problem
Obviously, with experience comes expertise. I’d pick a dentist with 30 years of experience to do my root canal over a recent college grad still clutching his diploma. The same philosophy applies to young entrepreneurs. They commonly lack the knowledge and experience necessary to developing a successful startup.
Another common age issue stems from what I like to call “The Good Old Boys Club.” This club is comprised of traditionally minded career entrepreneurs who have been in the business for years. It’s intimidating to think of discussing mergers with these types of individuals. This is because established entrepreneurs view upcoming young professionals as needing to prove themselves. It’s a rite of passage. Basically, young entrepreneurs are forced to break down this wall and build a sort of trust in the entrepreneurial community by showing what they can achieve.
Why Age Should Be an Entrepreneur’s Advantage
It can be frightening for young guns to approach an established company with merger opportunities. However, my experience has shown that young entrepreneurs can actually have the upper hand in these situations. For example, young professionals are still willing to take on huge risks for huge rewards! Their spirits have not yet been broken by failed ventures, and they are willing to take a gamble with mergers. Great ideas generally don’t come from cynical entrepreneurs.
Furthermore, those just entering the entrepreneurial world can offer fresh perspectives, and are not held down by The Good Old Boys’ way of thinking. This acts as their competitive advantage over entrepreneurs who have already been around the block. Utilize this fresh viewpoint to see potential merger opportunities that others may have skipped over. If a business strategy doesn’t work out, young entrepreneurs still have the energy and tenacity to bounce back quickly.
How Company Mergers Can Help a Young Entrepreneur
The decision to merge companies requires a lot of strategy and consideration. It can be especially daunting for young entrepreneurs to relinquish any amount of power behind their startup. But it’s important to consider that merging a young startup with a more established company could provide countless benefits.
For example, my business, Molding Box, absorbed another company in a strategic move to expand our service offering. The other company brought 10+ years of a solid reputation to the table for Molding Box. We were able to implement a sense of longevity and history to our business that other startups cannot. Young entrepreneurs should look for reputable companies that can bring a feeling of security to a startup.
Young entrepreneurs should also consider the values behind each company before deciding whether or not to merge operations. Molding Box, a quality-based startup, merged with another company with a strong commitment to quality service. This strategic merger resulted in a company reputation in which quality is always at the forefront. Mergers can help young entrepreneurs achieve strong brand reputations and solidify company values.
It’s important to remember both the advantages and limitations facing a young entrepreneur when considering a merger. If a startup is lacking in experience, other companies can automatically expand knowledge and provide a solid history in a merger. If a startup needs brand recognition, an established company can supply a respected reputation through a merger.
Young entrepreneurs often encounter age obstacles when trying to be taken seriously in an industry. It’s a tough business, with many critical decisions to be made. Always consider the possibility of a merger to combat some of these entrepreneurial barriers to entry. True, age is just a number. But reputation is everything in the success of a business. Mergers can be a great way to build a solid status in an industry, regardless of how old you are.
Jordan Guernsey is the CEO of Molding Box, an innovative company that provides shipping, printing, handling, and disc media production services. Jordan started Molding Box in his mother’s basement and has grown the company into an Inc. 500 list member.
Category: Startup Advice