Oscar Wilde wrote,
“Youth is wasted on the young.”
Youth won’t be wasted on your startup though, in fact there’s great gains to be had by surrounding yourselves with youth.
This post is an appeal to founders. Those who have been around the block and are seasoned with experience. Those of you who have allowed the barnacles of success to stick and suck away at you. Here’s my plea, you need twenty-somethings on your team.
Here’s three things I’ve learned over the last year while working with a twenty-six year old.
1. Twenty-somethings are not afraid to tackle big projects.
Don’t be afraid to give them something too big, they have the appetite for it. And not only that, they love the ability to work on multiple projects – not one. They have a different mentality. They don’t want to be stuck doing one thing.
Hand out many projects, including the big ones. This is important for them because, if you hire the right person, they want to learn new skills and knowledge. As a founder, you wear a lot of hats. Give them a few and enjoy the fresh enthusiasm and energy to the task.
2. Twenty-somethings help your organization stay current – if you’ll let them.
I’m thirty-three years old, still reasonably young. But I don’t keep up with the latest trends and technology with quite as much gusto. I’ve been amazed at what I’ve learned by simply opening myself up to what is important to him. Many things have proved valuable to our startup.
A startup shouldn’t behave like a dinosaur. It needs to be agile, young, and thriving. It should be experimenting, and trying everything it can to reach cash-flow positive. Twenty- somethings play a part in that process. They can show you new ways to market, new software to cuts cost, and give you a fresh perspective of your user base.
The trick is to give them the freedom to play this role. Sure they’re going to make mistakes, everyone does. And that leads to our final observation.
3. Young people give you the opportunity to mentor.
The right twenty-something will be eager to learn and mine for skills and wisdom. Helping young people succeed is something I treasure most. I find it to be one of the most gratifying experiences.
That’s why I encourage everyone I can to not only find a mentor but be a mentor. It’s a two-way street. Mentoring, for me, has become the vehicle for my own personal growth. It’s my favorite way to add value to others, and when you add value to others you’re adding value to yourself. All because you decided to hire a twenty-something.
Youth is rocket fuel. It’s waiting to be tapped and channeled. If you do it right, it can be a boost to your startup. Twenty-somethings can help you tackle big projects, stay on the bleeding edge, and provide new mentoring possibilities. Next time you're ready to hire, don't count twenty-somethings out. They may be just what your startup needs.