5 Obstacles I Face When People Find Out I'm a 24-year-old CEO

I found OMG just before I turned 24 years old. At first, it was a pipe dream, my get-out-of-jail-free card from my 9-5 life. I had read hundreds of blogs, followed and subscribed to so many pages and online courses, and I was determined to live out my dream of being my own boss. I wanted to call the shots, make my own schedule, stop working towards the dream and financial goals of someone else and most importantly – travel relentlessly and whole-heartedly.

This would be no easy task, I was very aware that it would take year to be able to leave my job (and handsome salary) and fully become dependent on my business. So, I went to work. I read, studied, researched and downloaded any and every motivation podcast and clip I could find. I started my days early and ended them late. I made cold calls and sent out emails during every break, lunch and even while waiting in the drive-thru for my Tuesday morning breakfast tacos. I began to literally eat, live and breathe my dream. I envisioned myself signing my first rental office downtown Dallas, shaking hands with CEO’s of major companies, and building my first home with my boyfriend before I even turned 25. I prayed and prayed and prayed some more, and not once did I ever forget to thank God for even the tiniest blessings when it came to my business (i.e., when I thought of my business name and logo design).

Of course, after the long process of paperwork, approvals and building my online web base – I was ready to launch. I was – ecstatic with fear (I know doesn’t really go together right?). I worked on my written business plan, my mission statement, my rebuttal to doubting clients – everything I could think of. I was ready to start marketing myself. But how would I do it? The minute people would see me walk through the door they would be ready to throw an application at me thinking I was some high schooler looking for a part-time job. Emails were no good – I couldn’t be personable and let my personality and passion for the business show as much in person. So, what would I do? How could I market myself without being looked at like some cute little girl with a website and a dream? No one would see my two degrees, my years of experience in the business from a young age, my drive and enthusiasm to make a difference for my target businesses – so how would I proceed?

This was not a problem for me only since I was young, a woman AND a minority. This was a problem that MANY entrepreneurs faced when beginning their start-ups. And I would have to combat these obstacles just the same. But due to my goal to quit my job before 30 and the strong desire to trek Bali that next winter, I was on a deadline. I needed to consistently bring on clients until I could comfortably charge 1 client the amount I made in 1 paycheck at my current job. Moves needed to be made and fast.

I’m going to share with you some of the obstacles I have (and even continue to) faced when OMG| The Olivia Marketing Group, LLC took off (and the obstacles I’ve found other young business-women like myself have faced).

1.       “It’s a Man’s World”

That’s right, we boss babes are at a huge disadvantage. According to Business Insider, women average $.79 on the dollar compared to a man in corporate America. This came to no surprise to me when I found out how much my counterparts were making compared to me at my 9-5 (thanks to breakroom talkers). Not only that, but women are found to be less likely to ask for raises, promotions in positions or be afraid to walk away from an unworthy offer. We’ve got to get it together ladies!

From my own personal experiences, I’ve had employers literally pass me up on a task at the office because they were worried I wouldn’t be able to carry something, the clients we were working with were too “aggressive” or “inappropriate” around women. Hey! I’ll grab a beer and talk sports if it means closing a deal! Don’t doubt me! You know what the saddest part is? My last employer, a woman, had me tag along to a conference just to sit in front of our booth to attract male customers. I wasn’t allowed to do pitches, network. Nada! How pathetic is that?

2.       Resume-Measuring Contest

You’d be surprised, but I have sat in some of the longest meetings with men who have made It a point to measure their “resumes” with me. My last company was hiring a consultant to help in my department, and rather than work together and bounce ideas off each other (like he was brought in to do), he insisted on asking condescending questions like, “Do you have any experience writing?” or “How good at social media are you?”. Dude. I have TWO WHOLE DEGREES. Why would the VP hire me if I didn’t have writing experience? Seriously, the most embarrassing meeting of my life. And what’s worse? None of my superiors or coworkers said one word. Talk about teamwork. Nothing against the company, that’s just the world I have chosen o compete in. So, I push through.

3.       “Didn’t I JUST Say That?!”

To follow-up on the previous bullet point, this is a typical moment in my day. Every. Day. I’ll be pitching to a client or potential employer and they seem interested and impressed. Cue the BIG meeting to decide who will take on this huge client or project. Some old(er), usually (non-minority) will pitch the same ideas I stated, maybe a month or so ago, and EVERYONE is ready to swipe the company card and sign on Jerry while I sit there dumbfounded. Lol. It’s slightly comical because I’m sure many young businesses and business owners face this same issue. Unfortunately, it seems like I’m just going to need some grey hairs to be taken as seriously as I want.

4.       Yes, That’s How Much It Costs…

Does this ever happen to you guys? I try to start my pricing off significantly low, since I am a new business, to snag clients faster and easier. The plan is to gradually up these prices once I gain more credibility and experience. Unfortunately, with my prices being so reasonable, people fear that my results will yield more…. amateur results. All this means is I must ensure I perfect every detail and design of my work. Once clients see the amazing prices that yield even more amazing results – I’m in the game baby!

5.       So…. you do this ALL by yourself…?

*Sigh, the most frustrating obstacle to overcome. Yes, I am a team of one. Sometimes two if I take on a collab project with the college friend and Graphic Designer, Jioia. But hey, all that means is you have my FULL Undivided attention. I can devote more time and care to whatever project I am completing for my clients. After I explain this they are usually relived and highly impressed. So I wouldn’t worry too much about this final bullet point aspiring traveler.

So, my advice to all my entrepreneurs and aspiring online travel bosses – let the doubt fuel your drive. I’ll never forget the moment I realized that OMG really had to take off – it was after a meeting at my 9-5. My superiors were bringing in some (nearly ancient) copy of me and completely gawking at his ideas for the business. Everything he was saying – I LITERALLY HAD TOLD THEM ALL BEFORE. Why was it that when HE said it suddenly, the credit cards came out and everyone was on board?? I called my mom at lunch that day and voiced my concerns. I was so. Disappointed. How could they do that to me? Why did no one in that room think I could do everything grandpa was saying? Sadly, that was the day I realized how much of a difference age, sex and “years in the business” made. Oh, don’t be fooled – his “years” consisted of working on newspapers. I know, what’s a newspaper, right? My point is, we had the same amount of experience, he was behind the times and I was new in the business – why couldn’t we be treated the same?

Well, my mother (being the brilliant woman she is), said something to me that will always ring in my head when I confront an obstacle, “You’ve always had to deal with that, and you ARE always going to have to deal with that. You need to let those attitudes drive you to work harder and be better…”. She was right, and from then on, I started absorbing those types of attitudes and that type of treatment from people. Now, when I walk into a building, I walk head held high. I demand the attention of the room and I speak with the confidence and authority that most 24-year-old entrepreneurs don’t usually have. OMG may be young, but so am I. and as we grow and begin to expand – the hard work, doubt and discouragement that I faced on that day sitting in my car, as the rain poured down gently muffling my hurt and anger while I spoke to my mother – it would all be as worth it as it does now.

Good luck boss babes (and boss men), let nothing stand in your way!