One major misconception about entrepreneurship is that only young people can found startups that can go on to be successful. According to many people, the middle aged who don’t have businesses of their own are only surviving till retirement. Granted, young people have time, energy and the fact that they grew up during the tech boom on their side, but that by no means eliminates older people from the picture. “I wish I could found my startup – I have a good idea, but i’m too old” is just not reason enough. Even though you didn’t grow up in an era where people were told that they can achieve literally anything they want and be successful in any endeavor they set their minds to, you can still be successful entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship has no age limit and if you don’t believe it, let these reasons convince you.
- You have experience on your side: Compared to people who found startups straight out of school, older people have more professional experience and insight into the market and their target audience. This is one of the main reasons why older people aspire to become entrepreneurs later in life, the job will be easier because they know the ins and outs of their industries and don’t have to learn everything like their younger counterparts. This experience involves more knowledge of marketing (i.e what methods that work), how to keep their books, managing staff and convincing investors. All these experiences will increase their chances of success in business.
- You have the resources you need: When starting a business, what would you need? Generally, it’s a great idea, a proper plan for your business, financial support and some knowledgeable people to launch with. This is one place where older entrepreneurs are at an advantage. When you’ve spent the past few decades getting experience, gathering resources and building a reliable professional network, you can make a proper business plan that will not only generate revenue relatively quickly, but will have proper exit strategies in place.
- Most successful entrepreneurs are older than you think: On the average, successful entrepreneurs in fast growing sectors like technology and healthcare are about 40 years old. Studies also show that businesses are more likely to succeed when they have a founder around 40 than when they are founded by twenty-somethings. Also worth noting is that the success rate doesn’t go down for over-forty founders either. Expect around the same success rate from a 60-year old entrepreneur that you would from the forty year old.
- Investment: By far the most popular cause of failure in startups is the inability to secure financing for the venture. Younger investors have almost no idea of how to present a business in such a way that investors will be interested in giving it the first round of funding. The later entrepreneurs on the other hand have something that most fresh graduates have never had: a paying job and savings they can rely on. Older entrepreneurs will thus be able to give their businesses the first round of funding through bootstrapping and as such, grow it to a state where it’s more attractive to investors.
Some real-world examples.
Fast food in America brings McDonald’s to mind the same way coffee makes most people think of Starbucks. Ray Kroc and Gordon Bowker didn’t found McDonald’s and Starbucks until they were 52 and 51 years respectively. Charles Flint founded IBM at 61 years of age and Amadeo Giannini founded Bank of America when he was 60 years old. While millennials have an edge as far as entrepreneurship is concerned, older generations have their advantages too. If all the entrepreneurs mentioned chickened out because they thought they were too old and were scared of going up against the younger generation, all these extremely successful enterprises would never have been found – or rather would have been founded by someone else (and not necessarily a younger person).