It's About Whether You Are Ready, & Not When
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An Entrepreneur is often pictured as a young adult, hardly out of college, with a dream (not necessarily a vision) to transform the world. While the stereotype has been confirmed through the astronomical success by a select group of individuals, the inconvenient truth still remains that most businesses fail. Confounding the stereotype, age (till a certain threshold), may be inversely correlative to entrepreneurial success.
Today, in fact, a surprising number of people are venturing out to start a business at an age where most decide to retire. Over recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of entrepreneurs venturing a business at the later stage of their life. However, due to the risk factors involved in starting a business, many are hesitant to pursue it.
The biggest setback for those wanting to start a business towards the end of their career is their mindset. Traditionally, the perception is that young people have the capability and potential for innovation. The lack of experience coupled with a strong will and ambition in young entrepreneurs allows them to overlook the possibility of failure and hence they are open to taking greater risks. This is not often the case with older entrepreneurs as their experience can lead them to be more cautious
Despite the risk factors and fear of failure, age could be used as an advantageous tool in any entrepreneur’s arsenal. The most significant advantage is the experience gained. Experience is intertwined with the cycle of failure and success and teaches one to be more cautious, which results in a positive outcome.
The depth of knowledge, expertise and wealth they offer are often viewed as extremely valuable not just by society but also investors. They have the firsthand knowledge of how much time and effort certain results may require, leading them to be more patient and accepting of the slow progress. A long life well-lived is also the result of a number of supporting pillars like a diverse circle of friends and family, who can prove to be valuable assets in providing insights and advice about the new business.
Studies Showing the Correlation
Numerous studies have shown a correlation between the age of entrepreneur and a startup on the prospects for success. A study by Kauffman in 2009 shows that companies which attained high growth are more likely to be found by someone over the age of 55.
In another analysis of 500 companies with high growth rate, a researcher from Duke University also found out that the number of companies started by entrepreneurs over the age of 55 was twice that of companies started by someone younger than 35. This shows age should never be a deterrent to entrepreneurial aspirations.
Success is a combination of discipline, personality, persistence, patience and intelligence. Patience and perseverance, traits often earned through extensive experience, allows older entrepreneurs to be grittier than their younger peers.
At the same time, an asymmetric advantage of their broader professional networks and a longer career footprint provide far more stability for a nascent idea to thrive. An existing network deleverages the cumbersome and resource-intensive process of expediting sales and marketing, at a stage when capital and energy are the most precious. However, these catalysts need to be tapped effectively and in a timely manner for maximum impact.
History is replete with late bloomers who made it big. Even today, some of the most synonymous companies and brands have founders who had started beyond the ‘stereotyped & hoodied’ age. Social constructs should be the least of deterrents when contemplating entrepreneurship. After all, at the heart of every entrepreneurial decision lies the innate desire to question the status quo in order to herald innovation.