Tess Robinson: ‘Your age does NOT define your ability to run a business’

Tess Robinson: ‘Your age does NOT define your ability to run a business’

Tess Robinson of Smack Bang Designs on the right time to kick off that business idea.

BY Tess Robinson, 8 min READ

Ever been hit by a snowball in the face? Yeah, it stings. Tell you what also stings? Pulling 70 hours weeks while your mates are out partying, gallivanting the globe, or bingeing on the next must-see Netflix series.

In the not-too-distant past, I was an ambitious 22-year old who had dropped out of my fourth university degree with about $300 in my bank account. My circle of friends were either backpacking the world dodging responsibility, pissing their wage up the wall on a Saturday night, or working in hospitality, spending their hard earned cash on full-priced Zimmermann and endless cheese platters. Crazytown.

I, on the (very) other hand, didn’t just drop out of university to go down any of those particularly fun routes. I dropped out of university because I was confused about my future. And so, with no money, no experience and no bloody idea, I decided to start my own business.

Although I never actually completed a degree (much to my father’s dismay), I had close to enough Photoshop knowledge to pull off the title of ‘Graphic Designer’. And so I started by doing loads of work for friends and friends of friends for dirt cheap. I mean, seriously cheap. Having never stepped foot in another design agency, I was seriously clueless about how to run a design project, let alone a fully fledged business with clients and timelines and budgets and cashflow and tax debts. But what I lacked in business know-how, I made up for tenfold in passion, tenacity and determination.

“Want to explore the deepest depths of your potential? Seek it. Do you wish to change the very way we perceive the world in which we live? Then change it.”

And so, while my friends were out having the time of their lives, I was at my desk, pulling all-nighters and all-weekers on a regular basis. I put my head in the books, logged out of Facebook and ate tinned tuna and broccoli for a really long time. I traded in trips to Coachella for all-nighters at the computer, and fancy dinners were swapped out for leftovers as I ate at my desk and worked the days away.

Do I have any regrets? No way. In fact, I am such a sicko that since starting my first business at 22, in the five years since, I’ve added another three business babies to the scoreboard. I’ve soaked up every minute of building a business. Yes, even the painful, I’d-prefer-to-die moments. Why? Because I feel like I was made for this and I feel like building a business in your 20s is just the absolute best thing you can do.

Like the idea of smashing the glass ceiling? Then smash it. Want to explore the deepest depths of your potential? Seek it. Do you wish to change the very way we perceive the world in which we live? Then change it.

All too often, people think that business ownership is the exclusive right of the seasoned and experienced homies. That after years of climbing your way up the corporate ladder, you will have the wisdom, expertise and know-how needed to establish your own company. Well, let this be a very serious and strong news flash – your age does NOT define your ability to run a business!

Being a 20-something is arguably the best time to establish your business. And here’s why:

You’re as low-risk as a bushfire in Antarctica.

Building a business means taking leaps and jumps that require serious risk. Your youth acts as a perfect opportunity to be able to tolerate such enormous risk, because you’re, well, crazy! You’ll have fewer responsibilities, fewer commitments and much more time to make up any losses you incur. You may not yet have mortgage payments, medical bills, or even children. If your business takes a while to get off the ground, or heaven-forbid, it flops flat on its face entirely, your kids won’t die of starvation. We hope.

You’re a young whipper-snapper with endless energy.

It takes a lot of energy to make a startup work. No amount of coffee, energy drinks or even sleep will prepare you for the craziness of running your own business. I’m 27, and I can promise you that the journey is real, the Instagram feed is real, and the struggle is REAL! But I am capable. Imagine how I’d feel pulling 70 hour weeks at 50?

Let’s face it, we’re all dying. Every day. In your 20s you’re supposedly in your prime, full of adrenaline, dopamine and that go-get-em zest for life. And trust me, you’re going to need it. Sustained energy and relentless drive are the secret and perfect ingredients of every single success story there ever were in all of the land.

You’re as fresh as a daisy.

I started a design agency without ever having stepped foot inside one. Yep, I was oblivious. I had no idea how these things ran. This was both a detriment and a delight – on one hand, I had to make mistakes in order to learn. On the other, however, I had no preconceived ideas of which systems to implement or what software to use, hell, I didn’t even know which positions to hire for. This meant that I executed solely based on intuition and independent thinking, thus carving new ways of working and interacting with staff and clients. Being fresh out of uni, I was full of new ideas and a hunger to learn. Us 20-somethings have had less amount of time exposed to the norms and rules of the professional world and we are less committed to those entrenched ideals. We are free thinkers, open to every solution and ready to soak it all up.

You’re as hungry as your beefcake brother.

Big brothers demolish just about everything in sight, and your appetite is figuratively just as strong in your 20s. Because it has to be voracious in order to overcome the obvious challenges.

Tess Robinson is the founder of Smack Back Designs – check it out here. She’s also just launched bespoke web-template hub First Flight. You can connect with her here.

connect Connect with Tess here


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