When you see an entrepreneur in a move, you typically see someone like Mark Zuckerberg: young and fresh. This almost makes it seem like entrepreneurship is a young person’s game, and something that the older generations just aren’t cut out for.
The truth is, the world of the small business is anybody’s world, no matter the age. If anything, it is more a world for the older generations than the younger generations. People like Zuckerberg are the exception, not the rule, and you’re never too old to start your own business.
In fact, many people don’t start their own business until they are in their 30s, 40s, or even 50s. Most entrepreneurs gain some experience in their field first, building a reputation and developing their expertise, before they even think about launching out on their own.
“But what about Zuckerberg?” I hear you asking. And the founders of Google? Okay, I’ll give you that some youngsters have started some fine, lucrative businesses. But I’ll counter your Zuckerberg with Mark Pincus, Robert Noyce, Craig Newmark, and Robin Chase. Pincus was 41 when he founded Zynga, and Noyce was the same age when he started up a tiny little company known as Intel. Newmark and Chase? 42 years old when they started their businesses, CraigsList and ZipCar, respectively.
Launching a successful business takes more than just energy, it takes intelligence, wisdom, and expertise. Older entrepreneurs tend to be more successful at their business careers, because they tend to have more of those qualities.
Older brains have been filled with more information, and some studies show they even work better. Older people can have great thoughts and ideas because they have more memories and information to draw upon to generate those ideas. This leads a small seed of an idea to develop over the years into the business that launches when the entrepreneur is in his or her 30s or later.
With age usually comes wisdom, because we learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others. The older generations have had more time to synthesize the mistakes they’ve made and seen others make, and are better equipped not to make those same mistakes. In business talk, this means they are more likely to develop a business plan that is strong and realistic, and execute that plan with wisdom and foresight.
It takes many years to truly become an expert in the field for most people, so the older you are, the more expertise you have. Think about it: would you prefer putting your children’s health in the hands of a medical student or an actual doctor? Most of us would say “Doctor,” because the doctor has the expertise that the student does not yet have. The same applies in the world of entrepreneurship, where your expertise in your field is something you’ve built up over the years so that you are now the leading expert, and are ready to head out on your own.
So you see, entrepreneurship does not know any age boundaries and you are never too old to start your own business. In fact, you just might find that the older you are, the more successful your business venture will be.