Updated: Apr 28
Based on the way startups are covered in the media today, it’s easy to feel like all founders are in their teens or 20s. Stories abound of young millionaires and entrepreneur teenagers. You only have to think Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Steve Jobs (Apple), and Richard Branson (Virgin) — all in their early 20s when they launched their first business, and high up on the list of successful entrepreneurs.
But the age of the founder is not the primary factor that determines whether or not a business will be successful. There are plenty of entrepreneurs out there who found their “big ideas” later in life, founding companies that, in some instances, last well beyond their years.
Take for instance Harland David Sanders (Kentucky Fried Chicken). While working at a service station, Sanders gained local popularity for his delicious chicken recipe. After the service station was destroyed by a fire, Sanders had the location rebuilt as a motel and 140-seat restaurant. In 1952, at the age of 62, Sanders franchised his “Kentucky Fried Chicken” for the first time. Today, KFC has over 18,800 outlets in 118 different countries and territories.
The success of a business is not directly related to the age of its founder. In fact, there is an argument that those who start businesses later in life have a better chance of reaching success. Studies have shown that if you're over 55 years old, you are twice as likely as your counterparts who are under 35 to launch a high-growth startup.
Not convinced? Here are 10 reasons why you would make a better entrepreneur now than you would have when you were younger...
1. You have life experience
The most obvious and undeniable benefit of starting a business later in life is the fact that you now have years of life experience to drive into your new venture. You are seasoned in the ways of the world, and you have a level of business acumen that you didn't have in your 20s. You are more patient and willing to take each step in the business startup process in order to give your business the best chance it has at success.
While you may not have hands-on experience in every segment of the business startup process, it is very likely that you understand the importance of things like having a business plan, creating a solid financial plan and conducting thorough market research.
2. You know more people (who know more people!)
At this stage of your life, you have likely built a large and diverse network of peers and colleagues. And because a new business often requires a village to thrive, your connections will be invaluable as you get started. Think about all of the experts you have met in your life that could share their advice or provide services to help you in your new venture. Lawyers, accountants, marketers, financial planners, contractors, designers, freelancers... This depth of a thriving network often takes years to build, so age is certainly an asset in this situation.
Having experience in the business world, you also understand the importance of networking and are able to ask for introductions when needed. This can often expand your network by double or even triple, giving you all of the resources you need to get started.
3. You know what you're passionate about
Many young entrepreneurs know they want to start a business of some kind, but they may not know exactly how they want to do it. This is because they haven't had enough time to develop an idea of what they are truly passionate about. Richard Branson says that "Passion is one of the most effective motivators when it comes to launching a business". Without passion for your work, it's very likely your business idea will fizzle out at some point. Older entrepreneurs know what they enjoy doing, and what they don't, so can tailor a new business to fit their passion.
4. You have knowledge that is valued in today's economy
In recent years, there has been an economic shift from industrial to knowledge-based, which means most of us have the opportunity to continue working well past the traditional retirement age. In fact, age makes us more valuable as professionals because it often means we bring more skills and knowledge to the table.
This holds true for entrepreneurs too. This economic shift will support older entrepreneurs who decide to make a go of it later in life because you can transform your experience into a highly sought-after commodity.
5. You know how to set and achieve goals
Goal setting is an integral part of starting and running a business and is necessary on a consistent basis during the life of the business. In our younger years, we don't always understand the power of smart goal-setting for getting from one place in life to another.
As a seasoned goal-setter, the process of outlining a desired outcome, as well as the actions you will take to make that outcome a reality, will come as second nature. Your life experience will also help you remain objective as you consider different paths you can take to reach your goals so you can move forward in a more efficient, cost-effective and productive way.
6. You may have an advantage with investors
While young entrepreneurs are often favoured by investors because it can be easier for them to get a bigger ownership stake and have more control in the business, it can be argued that older entrepreneurs offer better chances of success because of what they bring to the table.
7. You are financially secure
Starting a business when you're young means you will probably be juggling the cost of business ownership along with the rest of life's major investments many of us face such as mortgage payments, children's expenses, healthcare, insurance, car payments, student loans, retirement savings...
While the expenses never really go away, the older you get, the more likely you are to have paid off a significant percentage of the big stuff. This frees up cash to invest in your business. Plus, having less financial responsibilities makes the idea of starting a business less risky since theoretically, you will have a lot less to lose if things don't work out.
8. You have several startup options
When you're young, you have limited experience, a limited network, and limited capital, so your startup options are often limited too (usually, a bootstrapped startup is the only way to go). As a financially secure, seasoned professional, you have more options on your path to entrepreneurship. Yes, you can start a new business from scratch, but you also have other options such as a franchise, form a partnership or become an investor yourself, providing capital for someone else's business idea.
9. You've failed before
Failure is a part of life, and the older we get the more failures we clock up. Whether you have two big failures on your list or 20, they are a huge benefit for two main reasons. First, the most valuable part of each failure is the lessons you learned in the process. Second, your fear of failure is probably a lot less significant now than it was in your youth.
Since being afraid to fail can result in an inability to make a decision, lack of confidence and inaction, having less to fear can be a powerful reason why older entrepreneurs have an easier start.
10. You are more self-confident
In addition to valuable lessons learned, our failures also create one more big benefit - they boost self-confidence and motivate you to do better. Many young entrepreneurs have high self-esteem and a certain level of confidence naturally, but much of that comes from pure optimism that their business idea will turn into a hit. Optimism is definitely needed when starting a business, but when you take that optimism and add in confidence that comes with a track record of proven success, it's unbeatable.
As a seasoned professional, you have already experienced both wins and defeats, and have emerged with a powerful confidence that will allow you to take the challenges of business ownership in stride and come out ahead.
So if you are getting older and feel like your chance at entrepreneurship is fading away a little bit every year, think again! Now just may be the perfect time to take the plunge and start a small business. Hope this helped to offer some motivation. I'm in my 50's by the way.... if I can do it, so can you! 💖
Lots of love,
P.S. You can get free start-up tutorials and new small business tips and advice simply by subscribing to my mailing list. I will also send you a free copy of my eBook 190 Home Based Business Ideas you can start TODAY. How's that?! 💖
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