TENSION between the old and young at the workplace is not uncommon.
At one end, the older worker may see his young co-worker as too raw and inexperienced to take on major responsibilities.
At the other extreme, the younger worker may view his older colleague as being too set in his ways to adapt to a changing environment.
Move away from the stereotypes, said Dr Patrick Khor, founder and group chief executive of iBosses, a company that mentors and trains entrepreneurs. There is no reason why they cannot work together and complement each other, noted Dr Khor, who focuses on Generation Y entrepreneurs, or those aged 18 to 35, as well as silver entrepreneurs, or those nearing retirement.
His book, iBosses: The Rise Of Gen Y Entrepreneurs, was published last year.
Each group has its own strengths, and working together can help the team avoid pitfalls, he added.
According to Dr Khor, the typical Gen Y entrepreneur is passionate, young and committed: "They have energy, they have passion and of course they have ideas."
Sometimes too many, said Dr Khor, who regularly advises young entrepreneurs to "narrow down and focus".
Ms Teresa Teo, who is in her 50s, founded Dove Doodle, a social enterprise that works with disabled artists. She said the "enthusiasm and energy" of the Gen Y entrepreneurs she has encountered has rubbed off on her. But "feedback has to be really sugar- coated for this group" or their feelings might be hurt, she added.
As young entrepreneurs' edge lies in their mastery of technology, they can use this to reduce the financial risk of starting a business.
For example, they can use technology to develop prototypes and can gather resources through crowdfunding, says Dr Khor.
He cited the example of the smartwatch maker Pebble, which raised US$20 million (S$27 million) within a month through Kickstarter to develop its latest wearable, the Pebble Time.
Young entrepreneurs, however, may lack the nitty-gritty know-how, especially when they seek to expand their business, said Dr Khor.
This is where older entrepreneurs have an edge. Having worked in the industry for decades, silver entrepreneurs can bring with them "specialised skills and experience".
He cited the example of chief financial officers (CFOs). "I think 90 per cent of them (start-ups) cannot afford a full-time CFO," said Dr Khor. But a retired CFO can start a "CFO outsourcing centre" and support "1,000 companies" through technology.
Dr Khor suggested that it may be easier for the old and the young to work together as entrepreneurs than as employees.
In a corporate environment, the issue of seniority may be a hindrance to a fruitful partnership.
But that difference is "not so significant" among entrepreneurs, as long as they have the mindset "that we're all equal regardless of our age and experience".
Mr Alvin Soe, 25, who founded media production company Supernova Group in 2011, said he would "definitely" consider partnering silver entrepreneurs to tap their life experience.
"If we bother to listen, it could save us from many hard knocks in life," he said.