You Can't Possibly Know Business If You're Under 30 : Under30CEO You Can't Possibly Know Business If You're Under 30 : Under30CEO
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You Can’t Possibly Know Business If You’re Under 30

| July 27, 2010 | 19 Comments

screw emI’m 38-years-old. I’ve been working on the Web for over 15-years now, so well before I turned thirty. Now, that makes me the old guy in the young business, which is great, I have more experience than most everyone, and I’m not even forty yet. Tell me what other industry you can be in and that can happen? I love the Web.

But everyone starts somewhere, and it’s usually before they turn thirty. Here’s what I know from experience. You don’t really start to get business respect until you cross the thirty line. Sure, plenty of successful entrepreneurs have made billions and thousands and thousands of companies have been started by people under thirty. That’s not the point.

In the “regular” world, you know, the real world outside this fun little Web business world we live in, there is an awful lot of bias and lack of respect for people under thirty. I lived it, I know. I think it stems from the old school thinking that you can’t possible know business if you haven’t lived it long enough. Or, perhaps, some people are simply jealous that you are able to accomplish things that they themselves couldn’t do that fast. Yep, they had to pay their dues, so why shouldn’t you?

So as a 20-something, or younger, business person, how in the world do you get the respect of someone who resents your success? The answer is easy.

Screw ‘em

Times have changed. No, wait. The world has changed. The barriers of entry are lower than they ever have been. There has never been a greater time in the history of the world to go out and build a business or brand for yourself and make it a huge success without having to spend millions on advertising and years of struggle to make a name for yourself.

Sure, the old school business people are going to dislike you for that, but why do you care? Your passion is what is going to take you to the top of the heap faster than they could ever imagine.

And here’s the beauty part. You have plenty of time to fail.

Oh, and you will fail, a lot. But it doesn’t matter because you’re starting out early. Imagine the 60-something executive who decides to finally quit that corporate job and start her own business. There’s not a heck of a lot of time left for them to make mistakes, and if you’re scared to make mistakes, you’re never going to be able to reach the highest goals.

So get out there and don’t worry about those that will try to convince you that your age matters. It doesn’t. The time is now to make your move, no matter what age you are. Go for it, or risk ending up as one of those people who thought that “paying dues” was something everyone has to do.

For over 15-years, Jim Kukral has helped small businesses and large companies like Fedex, Sherwin Williams, Ernst & Young and Progressive Auto Insurance understand how find success on the Web. Jim is the author of the book, “Attention! This Book Will Make You Money”, as well as a professional speaker, blogger and Web business consultant. Find out more by visiting You can also follow Jim on Twitter @JimKukral.

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Category: Personal Branding, Startup Advice

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  • Mark Burdette

    Jim, there is alot of truth to what you say. I too am 38 years old and as I reflect back when we started our first venture when I was 22 I found the hardest thing was gaining respect from our employees. Most of the people that we hired happened to be older than us. We had to work extra hard to gain respect as business owners. It was a great learning experience.

  • Jared O'Toole

    Great article Jim. I completely agree with you and think it is so important for people to get out there. You will learn as you go, there is no need to worry about not having enough experience.

    “Go for it, or risk ending up as one of those people who thought that “paying dues” was something everyone has to do.”

  • MattWilsontv

    Jim, I really like your comments here. Barriers of entry to business are extremely low today and anyone regardless of age can break in. Sure, you can't undervalue having older, more experienced mentors but those people are to keep you in check, not to tell you that you aren't old enough.

    Besides, if we do fail–who cares–we have plenty of time to make it all back again.

  • Roy_Roca

    I agree with the article and both Jared and Matt’s comments I think that having those structures in place where young business men/women have to pay dues in order to achieve their right of passage is probably one of the last and only ways for the generations before to remain relevant and not become obsolete to the next generation, age is just about the only leverage.

    A question I have for Jim and anyone else who’s past the “20 something” age is do you consider yourself an “adult” and what reference point did you use when you created your definition of adulthood?

    Is it possible to live and chase the dream and call yourself an adult at the same time?

  • Ryan Hanley

    I am in the Insurance Business, you want to talk about an Industry that has HUGE “experience” bias. I've had people flat out tell me they won't do business with because of my age, 29. Now in some cases my youth is an advantage. Some people like dealing with a hungry young agent, but there are many more that just assume I cannot properly insure their risk because of my age. Even though I've been in the business for 4 years and read/train/work as hard as anyone in the business…

    I almost can't wait to hit 30…

    Thanks, great article…

    Ryan H.,

  • Jim Kukral

    Yeah, some industries are worse than others. The best way to do it is to just show them your skills and crush it.

  • Jim Kukral

    I've failed hundreds of times. Some HUGE, some small, but a lot!

  • Jim Kukral

    I've failed hundreds of times. Some HUGE, some small, but a lot!

  • Ryan Hanley

    I love the phrase, “Crush It!”

  • Web Design

    I started my own business at 19, and didnt let all the negative comments from family and friends stop me. I took on a “screw em” kind of attitude, and just wanted to prove them all wrong!

  • StatelyWord

    I believe this article is spot on. Too many times, have I been looked down on because I am a 25-year-old with minimal “real world” experience. I feel I've accomplished a tremendous amount of work working on my own and trying to get a head start on working for myself. I may fail, I probably will fail, but I'll go through that learning curve many many years ahead of others. And then sit back and say “I told you so.”

  • Mr Responsible_rd

    Jim i love the insight and your article. I myself am 26 and have been in the corporate world for five years and i see first hand (on a daily basis) the biased views of more “seasoned” employees. I think the underlying issue is that these “seasoned” employees are scared. They see how fast the world is changing and people in my age bracket can adapt so easily and thrive on innovation and “reinventing the wheel.” This ultimately means job security, which scares them due to having house payments, college for their off spring, car payments, and retirement in their future. Really if the balance is there a younger employee can learn from a more “seasoned” one and vise versa. But for that to happen true communication must occur. Jack Welch (former CEO of GE) said it repeatedly in his book Winning. Candor builds success! So have those critical conversations and always look for the silver lining.

  • Roy_Roca

    I'm sure you'll agree proving the naysayers wrong has to be one of the best feelings. Would love to hear how business is going.

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  • David

    Jim, the first industry that comes to mind when you're thinking of where you can be a 30-something, be the old guy in the company/industry, and still make it work: journalism. Social media is taking this younger generation into the industry long before they realize they're even in it. All they need is a camera phone and a blog. By the time these kids enter the job market, they might already have 4-6 years of experience. Plus, nobody, outside a few rare exceptions, understands the concept of 'Now' better than them.

  • opportunityandsuccess

    This is a fantastic article. Thank you so much!

  • Kareena K-j

    Am happy that you are working from your heart
    all the very best.