Ironically, the two articles of my young entrepreneurial beat were published on the same day and are equally counter-argumentative. The first article, “Don’t Start A Company Before You’re 25” by Robbie Abed was posted on Technori, where people go to celebrate entrepreneurship. The second article, “Start A Company When You’re 25 – Not When You’re 52,” was submitted on Forbes by Liz Kammel. Just from viewing the titles you can bet they will be butting heads like two entrepreneurial rams during mating season. Mating, of course, with their destiny of either starting a company before the age of 25, or not.
Robbie Abed, the author advocating you not to start a company before you’re 25, understands that every reader of his article is aware of how controversial it is. In fact, within the first line of the article he says, “Yup, this article is controversial.” His writing, from the beginning, taunts you personally. His language and word choice is nearly mirrored to what his reader would be thinking after glancing over the title. However, after his humorous introduction, he begins to attack the point of his article, giving support to those in favor of starting a business before the age of 25. Then, suddenly, his entire voice shifts over to something which should be held with the utmost respect, a voice that radiates wisdom and complete confidence. He boldly notes that “Success does not equal happiness” but “happiness is the new success.”
Instead of defining happiness, which you can rightly agree does not have a definition, Abed talks about his friends. Friends who are not involved in technology or startups at all. Friends that hang out every weekend and have fun. He considers them to be “happy” people. In contrast, he uses himself as an example; that he works too many hours, tries, but can’t take weekends off and is addicted to his kind of success. Quite plainly, he says that being happy and having fun while young is far more important than starting a business and losing the youthful and exciting era of life to the task of building a business. After adding contextual support for the statement, “it’s never too late, but it can be too early,” he offers his closing statement that “when you start your company at 26, you won’t be behind. I promise.”
All that Abed has said is clearly tried and true, however, one specific portion of his take on starting a business at an early age is used as leverage in the other article, “Start A Company When You’re 25 – Not When You’re 52,” by Liz Kammel. Kammel explains how the youthfulness which Abed described is – to Abed’s disappointment – the largest reason to start a business when you’re 25. “At age 25, the sky is the limit,” Kammel says. As you can readily agree with, when you’re young, you can stay up late every night, work as many weekends as you want, and as Kammel most importantly notes, “you have no fear of challenging ‘market standards.’”
As a 20 year old, I can offer even greater support than Kammel offers. When you’re young, you have an extremely low number of responsibilities: one pet, if any, a couple of bills, no kids. When you’re young, you can settle for less: a small place, maybe even just living at home, a part-time job, and of course, ramen noodles.
This free, flexible, full play lifestyle that Abed states is important to happiness is as important in starting a successful business.
The second argument Kammel makes is that a company should be started early and with the support of an older mentor. What she hints at is the inclination for older mentors to help the youth. Naturally, you wouldn’t think a 52-year-old would be working with another 52-year-old on starting a business. The mentor would, as expected, be puzzled as to why another 52-year-old man is asking for advice rather than giving his own to others. It’s a simplistic structure of society – the old help the young.
Kammel makes a strong point that as a young entrepreneur, there are plenty of experienced people you can hand the business off to. While they are taking care of “business,” you’re off starting another one!
Comparing and contrasting the two articles, it seems the better choice – to start a business early or not – comes down to what you have more fun doing on the weekends? Working on a business startup or hanging out at a coffee shop?
Stay Positive & Live On
Garth E. Beyer