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Should you start your company at 20?

December 04, 2018 09:05 IST

Building a company is a marathon and most businesses take at least one year to take off the ground. 

So when you are starting off, set realistic goals and give yourself and the business time to grow, says Akshay Bhatia, founder, Mutterfly, a rental marketplace.

Should you start a company at 20?

Photograph: Kind courtesy Pixabay.com

The 20s are painted as the decade of making mistakes and live life on the edge, and why not?

Having graduated from college and fresh in the ‘real’ world, it is the perfect time to experiment and paint your ideas on a blank canvas.

Add to that, the success experienced by young founders like Bhavesh Agarwal (OLA) and Ritesh Agarwal (OYO) have proved that age is no bar when it comes to setting up successful ventures.

While business founders seem to be getting younger and the 20s might seem the perfect gamble, there are a lot of hidden costs that you realise only when you enter the startup world.

I started my entrepreneurship journey at 24.

I still remember my first sales pitch -- an event filled with 80 women, and I had about two minutes to get my message across.

I distinctly remember my heart racing, my hands being all over the place and my inner self-saying 'Boy, this is just the start.'

I walked back home a little overwhelmed -- the joy of getting two orders was mixed with nervousness; this was only the first step of the mysterious journey that lied ahead.

Most importantly, I felt I grew a little in those two minutes.

The Pros

Nothing beats the energy of a 20s entrepreneur

The beauty of building a venture in the 20s is that you feel that you can do it all.

This attitude makes you push boundaries and discover yourself in new dimensions.

If someone told me three years ago that I would become a product designer, I would have laughed.

To back my laughter, I never got more than a C in art in school. But the lack of budget and inability to find a designer pushed me to learn design principles and techniques.

While wearing multiple hats can make every day seem different, it can also be mentally exhausting over a period of time.

Over the last 3 hours, I have gone from writing an ad-copy to hiring a new team member to looking at a new tax regulation which might impact our future revenue.

The same energy that can help you conquer amazing feats might get worn out if it is not channelled carefully.

Time is on your side (if you have the patience)

In the 20s, financial responsibilities are as low as they can be compared to the rest of your life. You travel with hardly any baggage.

This definitely helps put on a fearless attitude and you are able to take decisions more quickly than fellow entrepreneurs in their 30s or 40s.

While the flexibility is great, the 20's are also when you are the most impatient. The instability and undefined wait can play on your mind.

Especially, when you see your 'well-settled' friends book exotic holidays or buy their first car, you will be frequently reminded of what money can buy.

The cons

Relationships take a backseat and emotions take the front row

Building a venture is an emotional rollercoaster.

You experience constant mood swings and it’s hard to separate your personal and professional life.

My family has come to terms with me zoning out during dinner and 7-day work week seems normal.

I distinctly remember this one incident, where I walked into the office and started discussing a new customer order.

My team spent about 30 mins searching for this order in our system, only to realise this order was created in my dream.

It might seem crazy but the more I talk to my fellow founders, I realise we are all in the same boat.

It's easy to get carried away

In an era where start-ups are glamourised and start-up founders like Mark Zuckerberg, Evan Spiegel are considered heroes, it is easy to get carried away with their quick success.

In an age of instant results, we expect businesses to take off from day one.

Always remember, that quick success stories like Zuckerberg are the anomaly in the start-up world.

While one must definitely get inspired for quick success, it is equally important to know the ground reality.

Building a company is a marathon and most businesses take at least one year to take off the ground.

So when you are starting off, set realistic goals and give yourself and the business time to grow.

To all the young and energetic guns out there -- beyond success and failure, the experience of building a venture in your 20s is humbling, to say the least.

The confidence, resilience and the accountability you gain building a business in your 20s will lay the foundation for the coming decades.

It's never going to be easy but it is sure worth the shot -- so go ahead and start-up because you will never be old and wise tomorrow if you aren't young and crazy today.

 Lead image published only for representational purposes.

Akshay Bhatia