I thought he was crazy.
I was sitting across from my mentor when I nearly spewed my iced coffee. “You should really start your own company.”
I wasn't an entrepreneur. I had no actual business experience. I studied political science, not business!
It took some serious convincing, but I eventually made the jump. At 24 I left the comfort of a traditional 9 to 5 and launched my own consulting and training company. The first few years were tough. Really tough.
Three years later I still don't have it all figured out.
My highest highs and lowest lows have all happened since filing for a LLC. I've discovered quarterly tax filings, how to write effective marketing copy and the best and cheapest way to design your own website. I have more entrepreneurial skills now, but what I've learned most through this journey is myself.
The journey of entrepreneurship inspired me to write "The Millennial Entrepreneur: Side-hustlers, Startups and Disrupters Restarting America." I interviewed 25 entrepreneurs under the age of 35 to discover how this generation of disruptive innovators are changing the face of business.
Starting a company early in your life is the most life shaping and perspective providing experiences a young person can have. Here are just some of the clear benefits being a young founder can bring.
You can be selfish
Yes, I said it! Being selfish is actually a good thing, especially when it comes to starting a business. The early stages of a startup will take all of your time and attention. There are less people counting on you when you're younger. Ninety percent of Millennials under the age of 25 are unmarried. We have fewer life commitments, lower bills and more time for ourselves.
As a result, saying "no" to happy hour, Sunday brunch and weekends at the beach, will help you say "yes" to yourself and your future.
You have more disposable income
It may not seem like it now, but 20-somethings in the United States have more disposable income than our older counterparts. For example, most Millennials don't have mortgages, and the number of Millennials with car loans is shrinking — mostly because we're not buying cars.
Even though most of us have at least $26,000 in student debt, we are willing to pay for experiences like concerts, outdoor festivals and outlandish vacations. Start stashing that extra cash away and invest in your greatest life experience.
You have youth and inexperience on your side
You would be amazed at how many people are willing to help young founders. However, you have to be more wiling to ask for help. Expecting do-gooder entrepreneurs to assume you need help isn't bound to happen.
Finding mentors worth keeping has been one of the hardest obstacles I've experienced. There are plenty of people who will take your money in exchange for wisdom, or will mentor you as long as you take on their vision. True mentorship happens when someone recognizes your vision and works alongside you to make it happen. Actively searching out rockstar mentors and all-star board members can be easy when you humbly solicit wisdom and insight from older peers.
Sleep is overrated
How many times in college did you pull an all-nighter? And let's be honest, have you showed up at work with less than four hours of sleep in the last year? Millennials have high levels of energy fueled by youth and passion. Burning the midnight oil redesigning your website and waking up five hours later to make someone's coffee is less taxing when you're young.
Starting a company is like spinning 10 plates in the air simultaneously. When you're young, you can spread yourself thinner and need less downtime to recover. Your long-term and short-term memory peaks in your 20s, but according to this BBC study, your creativity climbs into your 40s.
There is something about being young and hopeful; we haven't been stung by defeat and put down by failure. Our confidence is still strong and our will unbroken. Using your 20s to pursue passionately the desires of your heart is not irresponsible. Transforming your 20s into a decade of intentional growth and relationship building is the responsible investment of a lifetime.
There really is no better time than in your 20s to start your own business. With a lot of determination and little help, the 20-something founder can gain confidence through success and valuable life lessons in the challenges along the way. By the time we enter our 30s and 40s, we will have knowledge that goes beyond the classroom and the work ethic that will inspire others to follow.