By Jared O’Toole
June 4, 2009
Too many Gen Y’s or millennials or whatever you want to call them are focused on creating the next great viral product – think Facebook, YouTube, Twitter. They want to be known by 21, famous by 22 and ultra rich by 23, which is simply not how it works.
These companies and their founders got lucky in a sense. Don’t get me wrong Zuckerberg put a lot of work into Facebook and made it great, but there is no way he thought it would be so big so quickly. These companies that blew up in 1-2 years are such a small percentage of companies and these ultra famous and rich 22 and 23-year-olds are simply not the average.
In reality most successful young entrepreneurs are more like 25-28.
Let’s look at the timeline. We’ll say a college graduate is 22 years old. Then the common saying that a business takes 3-5 years to get off the ground. Where does that put those college grads who went out and started businesses? Yup, 25 to 28 years old.
Here is a look at a couple successful business guys who were NOT huge successes at 23, but things turned out okay just down the road.
Tony Robbins: At 23, Tony had just begun to develop his world famous lectures and seminars. He didn’t write his first book, which propelled him to the top, until he was 27. He was still very young, but it took time and at the age of most college graduates he was just getting started like the rest of us.
Gary Vaynerchuk: In his early 20s he was taking over the daily operations of his family’s wine store, Wine Library. It wasn’t until age 30 that he launched Wine Library TV which is what propelled him to stardom and turned his family’s $2-3 million a year wine store into a $60 million a year phenom. Now at 33 he is pushing his personal brand to even greater heights, but it didn’t happen overnight, in his early 20s he was just figuring it all out.
The point is that so many young people, including myself, get discouraged when starting a business and after a year it isn’t quite worth 1 percent of something like Facebook. That one year seemed like 10 and we can’t believe our business has only come as far as it has. All of those thoughts start popping up like, “What am I doing with my life?” “Did I make the right choice?” “Should I just settle and go get a job?” When in reality you are light years ahead of most people! Step back for a second and realize that you are only in your early 20s. If you’ve been in business for one year and are 23 realize that you are not due to be successful for another 3-4 years! Think how much you have learned and how far you have come in that year, even if it’s not in your bank account, and then think three years out. Don’t think for a second that at 26 you aren’t young anymore and won’t be able to step back to enjoy your success a little.
Most people don’t have the luxury of creating something that blows up overnight. Especially as Gen Y entrepreneurs, we are all still so young and are learning so much. It takes time to mold all of this knowledge into something meaningful. Take it one step at a time and realize you are ahead of the pack and you just have to keep pushing. Whether you are aspiring to build a small deli business in your town or dream to be an industry mogul with millions of followers. You are on the right path but just give it TIME!
Jared O’Toole is co-founder of Under30CEO.com. His mission is to lead people to go out and do something they are passionate about instead of falling into the rat race and playing by corporate America’s rules. Under30CEO’s newsletter http://HelpAnEntrepreneur.com allows anyone to ask a business question and get answers from real people in their inbox or Twitter feed.