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One of the hurdles many young entrepreneurs face is being taken seriously by other established leaders in their field. Even potential clients can often have a difficult time trusting a young, new-to-the-field entrepreneur with their projects and requests. But age and lack of experience don’t have to create an insurmountable barrier.

Below, 10 members of Young Entrepreneur Council offer the advice they would give to any young entrepreneur facing this hurdle right now and explain why these particular tips helped them in their own journeys as young entrepreneurs.

1. Believe In Yourself And Your Product

Young entrepreneurs should have a deep belief in themselves and their product. At such an early and vulnerable stage in business, it’s easy to be swayed by others, especially those considered experts in their field. You might have an idea that no one’s thought about before—including the experts—and you must protect yourself and this idea against other people’s opinions. You may find yourself being swayed not to pursue it or convinced that you can’t accomplish it because no one else could, but that should never stop you. – McCullough Shriver, Sweetflexx

2. Focus On Learning Your Trade

Remember, every disadvantage is nothing but a positive advantage in disguise. I began as a 14-year-old entrepreneur who absolutely struggled to be taken seriously. However, that came with a benefit: My approach brought out the mentoring instinct in many people I worked with. If you’re not being taken seriously because you’re young, don’t focus on the respect that decades of experience earns people. Instead, focus on learning your trade as thoroughly as possible, and approach others with questions. The rest will come with time. – Tyler Bray, TK Trailer Parts

3. Develop Thought Leadership

Both entrepreneurs and everyday people are attracted to leaders who can provide a unique spin on things and provide real, actionable advice. That’s why I recommend demonstrating your expertise using content. This can be producing short videos, writing long-form articles on quality websites or even building up your LinkedIn or Substack followers by offering intriguing content. Over time, thought leadership will help earn you respect and even cause some established entrepreneurs to follow your lead. – Ron Lieback, ContentMender

4. Listen More Than You Talk

There is a thin line between necessary confidence and unnecessary arrogance. Being a young entrepreneur, one needs to understand this simple difference. Often, overconfidence breeds arrogance and disrespect for others. I try to listen to people more than I talk. Listening to someone with full attention is a fine way to deliver a sense of respect. When I’m sitting in a team meeting or facing other senior entrepreneurs, I try to be the last person to share ideas. This simple yet brilliant technique has been adopted by some of the most influential and successful people in the entrepreneurship arena. This is because, when you listen to people, you have more context regarding any issue, and it enables you to see that issue from every angle that you need to sound smart and earn respect. – Kelly Richardson, Infobrandz

5. Become The Best At What You Do

I started a painting company my sophomore year of college when I was 19 years old. Not only did the “good ol’ boys” in the construction industry have their own opinions, but many potential clients also believed that because of my age I was incapable of doing their projects to the same specifications as someone in their 30s, 40s or 50s could. I continued pushing forward, making sure I was the best in the city at what I did. A good word travels much slower than a bad one, so after time and perseverance, I began to develop a name for being the best in the city, and my age did not matter. Be top tier in your services and your customer service, and always make sure that your word means more than your signature. – Jonathan Clausen, Lilac City LLC, AAG LLC, AR-TT LLC

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6. Let Your Passion Shine Through

I felt constantly underestimated when I was a young entrepreneur, and I still feel that at times today. However, I found that if I remain engaged and passionate about my businesses, most leaders will see that I’m in this for the long haul and that it’s something that I care deeply about. Owning a business is tough, but if you let your passion shine, then clients, investors and partners will see that and respond. You can’t expect people to be passionate about the business if you aren’t excited yourself! – Shu Saito, All Filters

7. Find A Balance Between Confidence And Humility

One of the most important things for any young entrepreneur to do is be comfortable with themselves. Make sure you are confident in who you are and what you have to offer and then be open about it. You don’t need to be a pushover or constantly looking for approval, but if you can find that balance between being confident and humble, people will respect you and take you more seriously. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC

8. Solve A Problem No One Else Has Solved

My advice would be to challenge the established leaders in your field to help you prove your worth. If you can show them that you’re just as capable and knowledgeable as they are, then they’ll have no choice but to take you seriously. One way to do this is to find a problem that they haven’t been able to solve and offer your solution. By demonstrating your skills and abilities, you’ll prove that you’re not to be underestimated. It’s important to remember that you have just as much right to be in your field as anyone else. So don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and show the established leaders that you’re a force to be reckoned with. – Abhijeet Kaldate, Astra WordPress Theme

9. Focus On Your Customers Instead

What helped us during our initial days was sticking to the first principle of running a business: Know your customers and the problems they are facing. The rest are all distractions. Understand your customers’ requirements and pain points deeply, and work toward coming up with effective solutions. Once your customers know that you value them and are serious about their business, they reciprocate appropriately regardless of your age or experience. When your customers take notice of you and see you as an able partner, even established leaders—be it competitors, vendors or other customers—will start taking you seriously. – Vinay Indresh, Spacejoy

10. Find A Mentor To Guide You

The best advice is probably not to give up, but the second best, in my opinion, is to find a mentor who is already a well-established entrepreneur to help you navigate at first. I am a mentor myself, and I also know more who enjoy helping others get established and become successful. So be brave and, once you know them better, ask your mentor to go together to some events. This way, you will get the chance to meet new people, and the fact that you are at that event with a well-established entrepreneur will help you build your brand. Also, go to conferences, network, meet people and use LinkedIn to communicate and share your opinions so that, this way, people will start noticing you. – Alexandru Stan, Tekpon

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