We are in an age where more and more successful companies are being started and run by CEOs under 30. What ways can Gen Y business owners help establish their credibility as service providers when they do not have years of experience but have the know-how to solve prospective client challenges?
JOEY V. PRICE
Today, due in large part to the impact of technology, we see quite a few leaders and top managers who fall in the category of Gen Y (think Mark Zuckerberg). In thinking of a way to answer your question, I came to the conclusion that the answer is embedded in your question. Having know-how or expertise to solve prospective client challenges is a source of power you can leverage to more effectively influence clients to do business with your company over others.
For example, although you may not have the years of experience your competitors do, you probably have knowledge that they don't, such as how to reach customers who grew up in the online culture using social media or how to effectively utilize the latest technology. Emphasizing your strengths (i.e., your "know-how'') and not your weaknesses (i.e., your "lack of" experience) will put you in a much better position to close the deal.
I would also highly recommend checking out the book "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion," by Robert Cialdini. Cialdini offers six techniques (Liking, Reciprocity, Social Proof, Consistency, Authority and Scarcity) which research has shown to be effective ways to influence people. For example, the Liking tactic suggests that fostering relationships with clients is an effective way of influencing them. If you can establish bonds early by highlighting similarities between yourself and the client (beyond age), then this will only help you more effectively persuade them to go with your service.
Kevin Henderson is an assistant professor of management at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business. He can be reached at <a href="http://www.stthomas.edu/business/faculty/directory/Henderson_Kevin.html">www.stthomas.edu/business/faculty/directory/Henderson_Kevin.html</a>