Starting Early: Benefit or Barrier to Entrepreneurship
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A serious age race is on in today’s start-up world where individuals who start early are considered more successful than those who start late.
But isn’t age just a number and as Mark Twain has put it, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”Has it got any major impact on one’s entrepreneurial journey and success?
Travis Kalanick started his entrepreneurial journey relatively early, but then we also have examples of McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, KFC — all these are companies were set up by their founders post their 50 years of age.
That brings the discussion to a pertinent question — Is age a benefit or a barrier to what you want to achieve in your entrepreneurship journey?
Entrepreneur India got in touch with three young persons in the space to find the answers — Ankit Singh, Co-Founder of Mypoolin (a tech-company in social payments segment), Harsh Shah, Co–founder of Fynd (a B2C online shopping platform), and Kathak, Co-founder of Ahmedabad-based Monono (which has developed Gentlewasher, a washing device to treat delicate clothes).
The Opinion Varies
Ankit Singh, who started his company at the age of 22, likened entrepreneurship to a marathon and not a sprint. One needs years of learning and practice to build a massive and sustainable business. “Hence, it is better to start early. Starting early can help you avoid the ‘curse of knowledge’ and you are able to access information from a fresh lens. The early years are all about learning, where an individual will have far more financial flexibility and independence to go through the tough times relatively easily,” shared Singh.
Harsh Shah, however, begged to differ. “An entrepreneur has got nothing to do with age; it is instead about understanding the issue you are trying to solve and the target audience for whom you are trying to solve the problem. Anybody, at any stage of his/her life, is ready to give it a shot after getting these two answers,” claimed Shah.
“Young entrepreneurs currently have more incubator programs running for them. Awards like Forbes 30 Under 30 or Entrepreneur 30 Under 30 or 40 under 40 are conferred on them, developing an urgency in entrepreneurs to earn such awards and thus fame. Such entrepreneurs work for fame and not really to solve problems and often live a short life in entrepreneurship space,” he reiterated.
For Kathak, entrepreneurship is all about exploring the unknown, treading uncharted territories. It’s a plunge. “Waiting/delaying does not make it any easier! There’s no waiting for the right time, the right time to start is always now. I personally think it’s best to gather experience along the way. In my opinion, starting up young in the manufacturing sector with an innovative product has helped,” she shared.
The woman from Ahmadabad also stressed that there is no fixed rule to start a business. “Best is to experience the entrepreneurial journey for yourself. The maximum you can get is guidance from others. The younger you start, the chances of making mistakes are more and you eventually learn from them,” suggested the 26-year-old, who has just her entrepreneurial journey.
Young Entrepreneurs Have Their Share of Benefits
Singh believed that starting early sets one up on a rapid path of learning. For Shah, the key advantage one gets is the time in hand.
“At a young age, you have a lot of fresh ideas and support in hand both from government and private equity firms. A good example in terms of ideas here is Uber. Travis Kalanick is more likely to come up with an idea of Uber (at the age of 32) than a Bill Gates. Because this is a problem of his generation and he relates more to it and would go an extra mile to solve the problem,” Shah explained.
“Other advantages include lesser worries in terms of failure and lesser liabilities in life. This being the most energetic time of your life, you end up giving more time and thought to the concept than any entrepreneur of an older age,” opined Shah, who started his entrepreneurial journey at the age of 23.
Challenges of Starting Late
“The biggest challenge of starting late is to get back into a ‘beginner’s mindset’. It takes hard, conscious efforts to take decisions that are not biased by your past experiences, when those past learning may not be contextually relevant,” shared Singh.
Shah said liabilities became a major issue for the ones who start late. “A person starting late already has a lot of liabilities on him and mostly they have their family members depending on their earnings. There is uncertainty, which at this point of time in life is the biggest blocker,” he added.
Kathak seconded Shah’s views suggesting, “the younger you are, more is your capacity to survive the uncertainty. And then there are things out of your control. You have to adapt to the market, adapt to the changing political and economic clime and so on. Trust me, there will be more challenges than you have imagined! Earlier you are exposed to all this, the better,” she cautioned.