Let’s start like we are at Alcoholics Anonymous; My name is Hazel Cottrell and I am 33 years old, queue for gasps and looks of shock. None, none at all!
When I first started in business I really struggled with my age; I was 27 years old and had no experience running my own business. But what I did have, and still do, is business experience and industry knowledge as well as passion and determination. I was often called young or described as the young girl and it really bothered me – to me young meant inexperienced and it really made me doubt myself, my skills and my abilities.
Fast forward 5 years and until today I hadn’t been called young and my age hadn’t been referred to. I was respected as a business owner, a business owner that helped businesses achieve a better online presence through training, support or management. An award-winning business owner in fact, that had become well respected, known, liked and trusted for the person she was and what she sold… until today!
I was at a networking / training / accountability event – I will be vague so the event cannot be pinpointed.
We were talking about life goals and business goals; where our business is at and where we would like our business to be. Also what our challenges were and how we would know we had won. This was a round-the-table discussion where we took turns.
I explained who I was and who I did it for and then explained I had no ‘challenge’. I am working with the clients I want to work with, I am working the hours I want to work, I am earning the amount I want to earn and the way my business is slowly growing is exactly what I want and how I want it to be.
The response from the coordinator was that this would change when I got older, that perhaps I was too young to understand what I really want at present and things will change when I want to have children / a family.
These may all be valid points, in regards to the fact that things may change as I mature, but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand what I want and don’t get me started on the ‘family’ thing!
I then found myself lying about my age when I was later asked, stating that I was mid to late 30s; this question was asked as I didn’t know anyone that had crohn’s or lupus.
I have spent 5 years working hard to be recognised as a professional business owner; regardless of my age and sex and I was surprised how much this comment bristled me.
Can’t we just recognise all people as who they are / what they do?
I may be only 33 years old; but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand business, I don’t know everything there is to know about business, but does anyone? However, I do know what I do and I know how to do it to the best of my ability. I know how to make clients happy and I know that I have been running a successful business for almost 5 years.
I also know that there are successful business owners out there much younger than me running more successful businesses than me – please don’t judge people by their age.
That’s it; rant over – the bee is now out of my bonnet.