Why You Should Risk It All During Your 20’s (and Join a Startup)

Twenty-year-olds are able to meet the headaches and relentless demands, says Zach Errant, co-founder of Curate.

Estimated reading time: 3 minute(s)

There’s a debate that rages in all our own heads and especially dominates the minds of many aspiring twenty-something-year-olds, upcoming college graduates, serial job hoppers, or the thrill-seeking funemployed. You know the monologue:

“What’s the next step? What should I do? Should I start my own business? Do I want to work for someone else? I can’t sit at a desk all day long. Get me out of this cubicle. This job is boring. How am I going to compare against my peers? Am I moving in the right direction? What if I fail miserably?”

Answering these questions ultimately presents both pros and cons, whether that is financially, physically, or psychologically. And there’s no ‘ready-made’ answer, as they offer options for the future that may accord or deviate from societal norms and standard practice.

Release thy anxious self and take a step back to understand what I think your twenties are meant for. Drawing from my own experiences, I present my opinions and ideas below as a simple guide through one of the most challenging and decision-oriented obstacles in your life of which you may encounter.

Zach Errant believes twenty-year-olds are able to meet the headaches and relentless demands of working at a startup.

Twenty-year-olds are stretchable

Time is the ultimate value and it is important that you spend the time you have wisely. Whether it is early mornings or late nights, people in their twenties are able to meet the growing and stressful demands that are required to navigate the vast professional unknown – or a startup business.

This period may be a time in your life when you’ve yet to create a family of your own and when specific financial obligations are not beyond your means (or if they are; you have time on your side to pay it off), and overall volume of responsibilities you can possibly manage have not reached their peak.

Stretch yourself early and every day.

The course of your career can be accelerated

“Working your way up” takes time. A lot of time.

So why not start sooner than later. Joining a risky startup gives you the opportunity to put yourself in a position for future promotion.

The experiences, learnings, technical, personal, and leadership skills that you acquire are often unmatched — and exponential. Moreover, they can provide the structure and framework that you may need moving into a corporate environment later in the years ahead.

Comparing apples to apples (candidates to candidates) will only become more and more competitive as the job market intensifies and grows. Your “education bio” will only get you so far.

Jump in the speedster — but make sure you appreciate and respect the roads.

Networking is an immense benefit

The connections you make and the network you build are key during your early years in the professional world. Establishing these relationships will become vital to your long-term growth.

More than likely, you will be presented with the opportunities to join or attend community programs, accelerators, incubators, or other similar spaces in areas that will provide you with the tools, resources, and relationships that you may need at any time.

Whether now or in the future, networking is an investment with a high return.

Preparations for success

The diverse skills that you will learn and acquire in your twenties are compounded by joining a startup and understanding that work environment. You can be sure that these abilities are recognized, valued, and in-demand, by just about anyone who might offer you your next job.

And of course, if you have a ‘stake in the game’ then the return over the years may be far greater than anything you could have settled for otherwise. Do you have an opportunity for an ace-high?

Building your personal and professional brand

Time is certainly valuable. You have the opportunity to use the time you do have in your twenties to build both your professional and personal brand. The story you tell will become an important track record as you look to further scale yourself in the years to come and with future endeavors.

Should you choose to risk it all…

Just be sure that you bend but don’t break, accelerate your skills but at a healthy pace, and establish but don’t scar those relationships. Get your ‘skin in the game’, fairly, and become the person you want to be in the process.

I have always communicated that if you get involved, focus on your passion, follow your heart and your dreams. I call that combo a Royal Flush.

If you do that and put your mind in the right place, you can accomplish anything.

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Zach is a Co-Founder at Curate, a St. Louis software startup that streamlines and automates operations and processes for event professionals. Prior to joining Curate, Zach worked extensively in early-stage technology startups in the Chicago and St. Louis areas with both PowerPost and PointDrive, filling sales and product capacities. PointDrive was acquired by LinkedIn whereby he then served as a consultant at LinkedIn. Zach has volunteered as a mentor, advisor, and analyst at organizations such as 1871 in Chicago and GatewayVMS and Washington University in St. Louis. In his downtime, he specializes in research, strategy and development of early-stage startups, small businesses, and personal brands.