6 Ways to Gain Respect as a Young Entrepreneur
The great thing about the startup space today is that anyone with a great idea can break in, but if you want to build a long-term, sustainable business, it helps to have the respect of everyone around you. Your customers, your team, your investors, and your clients all need to believe in your ability to do the best possible job for them.
This is especially tricky for young entrepreneurs who may be perceived as inexperienced in a position that they haven’t “earned.” Whether any disrespect you might receive is fueled by jealousy or other negative emotions, it always pays to defy expectations and put your best foot forward. If you want to be the kind of business leader that people believe in, here are 6 ways to make it happen.
1. Be Prepared
Once it’s clear that you will be leading a team, you should start preparing immediately. Demonstrate a keen awareness of the field you are working in as soon as you walk through the door. They’re not lying when they say that the first impressions are key. Be prepared to dress appropriately and speak politely in any given business situation. Many work environments are casual and there’s nothing wrong with encouraging that as a leader, but always be prepared to adjust to whatever a customer or investor might expect. Respect others and you will be respected in turn.
2. Build relationships with your team
You might have some desire to be the enigmatic entrepreneur, secluded and eccentric. That sounds cool, but doesn’t lend itself to a friendly and productive work environment. If you want your team to believe in you then you need to take the time to get to know them personally to build a good working relationship. Show an interest and dissolve any misconceptions that you have an ego before they take root. This not only leads to better communication and workflow, but more respect and people that you can trust in turn.
3. Know your customers
Developing good relationships is just as (if not more) important with your customers as it is with your team. If all your customers know about you is that you are young and relatively new to the business then they might form false conclusions about you. Spend as much time as you can afford on the phone and on email with customers and clients and make sure they know that you can satisfy all of their concerns. This will not only build trust, but it’s also a great way to get a better sense of who your audience is and what they want most out of your product.
4. Listen & Communicate
Don’t let the experience of your team members go to waste. Listen to what they have to say and learn. When you’re just getting started, make sure that you are taking in as much information flow as you can. If there are any blind spots in your knowledge (and chances are there will be a few) then this is an easy fix. This is also the best way to earn the respect of your team. If they see that you take their contributions seriously then they will feel the same about what you have to offer. They will also recognize and respect your quality of character and your willingness to learn and grow when you show genuine interest.
5. Lead by executing
Your team needs to see that you’re ready and willing to get your hands dirty. Show them that you’re capable of executing in every part of your business and they will follow your example. This is also a great way to develop the kind of experience you’re going to need before you can begin sending your team off on their own to do the right kind of work for you. Build a culture of hustle by showing your team how hard you are willing to work. When you make a commitment always follow through and your employees will do the same.
6. Innovate the space
You are uniquely positioned as a new business leader to be a force for change. If people wanted the same old thing then the veterans with years of experience would be better placed to do that job. Respect old strategies, be thorough in your arguments for why a change will make things better, and follow it up with strong actions. Always stay curious, always try to innovate. That is exactly what it takes to stay relevant, push the industry forward, and be a thought leader in your space.
Earning respect isn’t easy, but it’s an incredibly valuable trait to develop that will help in every business pursuit for the duration of your professional career. You might as well start early.