Five tips for running a start-up as a young director

The steep rise in start-ups over the past five years has shone a light on the vast amount of young entrepreneurial talent out there. The energy and creativity associated with youth is propelling businesses to produce innovative products and services and disrupting every industry.

However, without the asset of experience young directors must learn quickly. As CEO of Paybase, I am familiar with what being a young entrepreneur entails, and whilst everyone’s journey is different, here are some tips which I would offer to anyone starting out as the leader of a business.

1. Your employees are your experts

At Paybase we are a team of 15 and growing. I am one of the youngest people in our team, which has meant mostly managing people who are older than I am and who have been working for more years than I have.

After taking time to hire the right people, I believe the key to being a good leader is to acknowledge that your employees are experts in their fields and are best equipped to make recommendations. Micro-managing people and being overly prescriptive makes no sense. Instead, it is important to focus on the bigger picture and to set your employees the right tasks - not to worry about the minute details of their processes.

Taking this approach has certainly helped me to establish good working relationships with my team members. When employees have autonomy and the opportunity to be heard, they have the space to prosper regardless of any age difference between themselves and their leader.

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2. Jumping in at the deep end is the fastest way to learn

Sometimes I wish that I’d had a chance to learn all the important lessons of the last year gradually rather than all at once. Then again, being thrown into the deep end is what truly and most effectively teaches you how to run a business. I believe that starting young and throwing yourself out there gives you a chance to build a foundation of experience early on in life and to continuously improve.

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3. Don’t regret mistakes - learn from them

There are many things I know now that, had I known them earlier, would have changed some of the decisions I made. Could we have done things better? Absolutely! Do I believe that the decisions we took were the right ones at the time? Yes. I have no regrets - the decisions took us to where we are now and I am grateful for all the things I have learnt.

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4. Look at the industry as a whole when you’re planning for the future

Stay abreast of industry news and stories; meet like-minded peers and present at industry events; do not stop educating yourself. Immersion is vital. You need to keep an eye on where the rest of the industry is going and let it inform your decisions.

Whilst my focus for the foreseeable future is the development, growth and expansion of Paybase, it is important to frame that in a wider context. I hope we will play an important part in changing the future of payments by democratising access to payments infrastructure and opening this industry up for more innovators. Having that long-term goal helps you maintain your focus on what you’re trying to achieve.

5. Be passionate in everything you do

To succeed you need passion. Be passionate about the problem you’re trying to solve and be genuinely interested in the sector and market you’re in. This excitement and enthusiasm will give you the strength and ability to keep going and to push even harder when things get difficult. It is almost impossible to perform to the best of your ability if you’re not 100 per cent committed.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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