When I started a business at age 22, I was a college dropout with $300 to my name. I had bungled four university degrees, had never worked a real job in my life, and had never set foot in a design agency prior to founding my own.
The sour ones called my determination madness and the sweet ones called it naiveté. But I knew there was beauty in my inexperience.
Fast forward seven years and my company, Smack Bang Designs, is thriving.
So what are the advantages to having no experience or industry know-how? Here are seven reasons why your inexperience might just be your secret weapon:
While experience has its benefits, inexperience can lead to deeper innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. When you start a venture with little to no experience, you inevitably throw industry conventions to the wind, simply because you don’t know what they are.
As an inexperienced founder, you won’t have had your entrepreneurial spirit chewed up and spat out by an institution or set of antiquated industry standards. Having never worked at another agency, I naively had no idea that agency life usually meant long hours and leaving the office well past dinnertime. This meant that I got my little studio humming productively between the hours of 9 to 5 and my team got to enjoy their after-work lives! A win-win for everyone.
When you start out with no street cred and nothing to show for yourself, you immediately have something to prove. Whether it’s to defy your third grade teacher who wrote “room for improvement, could try harder” on every school report or the career counselor who “highly recommended” a more sensible plan B, you’re not going to expend all this effort only to look like the kid who juggled his ice cream cone and ended up with it plastered all over the pavement.
If you listed all of your “assets” and your Glossier Boy Brow is sitting pretty in the top five, then you’ve got nothing to lose (unless they stop selling it—that stuff is priceless!). If you’re at the beginning of your career, you likely don’t have any dependents to provide for or a mortgage hanging over your head. So, go hell for leather after your vision.
Inexperience means your head hasn’t swelled from years of praise and accomplishments working in the field. You’re yet to adopt a chip on your shoulder; you’re likely willing to confront your weaknesses and admit your flaws. As an inexperienced founder flailing your way through your very own version of “Business for Dummies,” you’ll probably fail more times than you succeed, but you’ll learn from what didn’t work and tweak it. You’ll develop resilience and grit super quickly.
Being an inexperienced founder immediately gives you a badge of underdog honor. People love to champion David (of Goliath fame!) and lend a hand to help an unassuming person make it to the finish line. In the early days of my business, I found amazing mentors who showed up to support me in my pursuit of the seemingly impossible. If there’s one thing I’ve come to realize, it’s that people love to get behind a meaningful cause and feel like they’re a part of it.
Launching and running a business is a wild adventure. It’s like the heart monitor you hear in the ER—a blearing signal that lets you know your soul is not just rotting away in some dreary cubicle. The thrill of entrepreneurship is a daily reminder that you are a living, breathing, growing, learning human being. Consider all the possibilities and discount nothing. Trust me when I say the adventure will be wild.