When Nick Molina started his first business at age 21 in 1989, he was a lot like today's 20-something entrepreneurs: ambitious, determined and willing to dedicate every possible resource to his business. Embracing the latest technology of the time, he co-founded Let's Talk Cellular and Wireless Inc., a wireless products and services retailer.
Twenty years and several startups later, in 2009, Molina started his latest venture, an electronic-cigarette company called International Vapor Group. While his prior business experience was a big help in some respects, he discovered that the entrepreneurial game had completely changed in other ways.
"Some experiences didn't carry over," Molina told BusinessNewsDaily. "Advances in technology can make many old methods obsolete. There was no Internet when I started my first business, so I was dealing with the same startup problems, without all the tools and resources afforded to us today." [4 Mobile Technologies That Will Change How You Do Business in 2014]
In the more than four years he's been competing with younger entrepreneurs in the technology market, Molina has learned a lot about them. Here's what he thinks fellow Gen X business owners should know about millennials to keep themselves ahead of the curve:
They're smart and tech savvy. Entrepreneurs in their 20s have grown up with technology and have been learning about it nonstop for years. They're very competent, and the only way to overcome that is to read and make sure your technology knowledge is up to par. Knowledge is power, and it's never been truer than in this scenario.
They're risk takers. A huge advantage of starting a business when you're young is the ability to take a lot more risks than someone who has a family and other obligations. Molina admitted that he took risks when he was a young entrepreneur that he wouldn't take now, but acknowledged that he wouldn't have reached the same level of success if he hadn't taken those risks. Gen X-ers, who may not be in a position to devote every waking moment to their business, can still launch a successful startup — they just need to be ready to go up against millennials who have nothing to lose yet.
They can help your business. The worlds of technology and business are moving quickly. Molina warned older entrepreneurs that if they don't keep up with the latest advances, they're certain to be left behind. One way to ensure that you stay on top of things is to bring in the millennials who would otherwise be your competitors.
"Don't be afraid to hire the young guns," he said. "They're the ones who will keep you sharp and on edge. You have to try to mitigate your risks, but you also need to be willing to take chances, because if you don't, the competition will."
Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.