The folks over at Under30Ceo provide a great service to young entrepreneurs in discussion after discussion about the top issues faced. In one of today’s articles, The Daunting Task of Merging Companies as a Young Entrepreneur,” Jordan Guernsey (founder of Molding Box) discusses how youth can be both an asset and a liability in merger negotiations and assimilations. He also speaks candidly about how valuable a merger can be under the right circumstances. His point/counterpoint:
Why Age Can Be an Entrepreneur’s Problem
Obviously, with experience comes expertise. I’d pick a dentist with 30 years of experience to do my root canal over a recent college grad still clutching his diploma. The same philosophy applies to young entrepreneurs. They commonly lack the knowledge and experience necessary to developing a successful startup.
Another common age issue stems from what I like to call “The Good Old Boys Club.” This club is comprised of traditionally minded career entrepreneurs who have been in the business for years. It’s intimidating to think of discussing mergers with these types of individuals. This is because established entrepreneurs view upcoming young professionals as needing to prove themselves. It’s a rite of passage. Basically, young entrepreneurs are forced to break down this wall and build a sort of trust in the entrepreneurial community by showing what they can achieve.
Why Age Should Be an Entrepreneur’s Advantage
It can be frightening for young guns to approach an established company with merger opportunities. However, my experience has shown that young entrepreneurs can actually have the upper hand in these situations. For example, young professionals are still willing to take on huge risks for huge rewards! Their spirits have not yet been broken by failed ventures, and they are willing to take a gamble with mergers. Great ideas generally don’t come from cynical entrepreneurs.
Furthermore, those just entering the entrepreneurial world can offer fresh perspectives, and are not held down by The Good Old Boys’ way of thinking. This acts as their competitive advantage over entrepreneurs who have already been around the block. Utilize this fresh viewpoint to see potential merger opportunities that others may have skipped over. If a business strategy doesn’t work out, young entrepreneurs still have the energy and tenacity to bounce back quickly.
In order for a merger to work for you, you must have polished skills in forging alliances and making good decisions quickly. The pressure to grow and expand makes a merger look appealing. The “gut check” is whether you are willing to give up some control in order to meet your growth objectives.
Molding Box acquired another company in order to offer additional services desired by customers. With a legacy of 10 years of operations, the acquired company brought instant credibility. Other young ‘treps should not underestimate the value of perception.
Make sure that your cultures and values are well-aligned, however, or you may end up worse off than pre-merger as the transaction has to be reversed. A target with a strong leadership team and solid brand equity can be a tremendous asset in your own search to establish “street presence.”
“Let no man despise your youth.” It’s an old saying, but very relevant to the young entrepreneur. You prove you belong when you make good strategic decisions-regardless the age!