Does age really matter in entrepreneurial success? For years, people have tried to correlate an entrepreneur’s age when they launched their startup, with the ultimate success of that startup. Here we’re going to summarise the pros and cons of starting a business in different age group.
- You’re better at tolerating risk. You’ll have fewer responsibilities, fewer commitments and much more time to make up any losses you incur. Therefore, starting a business as early as possible mitigates your potential losses.
- It’s fast-paced and exciting. Especially in the world of startups, every day is new and exciting for entrepreneurs. Since you’re working with a smaller team or even working independently, the work, the challenges, and rewards can vary greatly from day to day.
- You lack financial resources. This is a tough reality many don’t want to face when it comes to starting their own business. One of the biggest sacrifices you may face as an entrepreneur is a salary you can depend on, but sometimes you have to take that risk to make your dreams happen.
- You have to wear different hats. As the owner of your business, you have to be the accountant, janitor and even the public relations manager. When you have to wear so many hats, it can cause the stress of owning a business to compound quickly over a short period of time.
- Owning your business is very rewarding. You don’t want to be confined by the walls of another company. And you’ll have the freedom of innovation and creativity. Despite all the ups and downs you will likely experience with your startup, having the satisfaction of building your business from the ground up can bring much joy to your career.
- You have a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. You’ve likely worked in various positions, and have had more diverse responsibilities over the course of time than those in their 20s. That can be a huge advantage as a new business owner because you can more easily recognise what you can do yourself, and what you should delegate or outsource.
- Sometimes you won’t receive a paycheque. Especially when your business is just taking off, it can be difficult to make ends meet every month. Starting a business demands a lot of up-front investment, in both time and money, and you’ll bear significant risk, in both your finances and your current or “backup” career.
- You have to be your own boss. While being a boss has its perks, it takes a lot of discipline and dedication. You have no one to rely on but yourself as a small business owner. When you own a business, you can expect to work around the clock and dedicate much of your “free” time to making sure tasks get accomplished and goals are met.
- You have a broader frame of reference. The older you are, the more life and professional experiences you have to draw from when making critical decisions. Those years of lessons learned can help you identify risks, recognise opportunities and navigate challenges.
- You’re more finally secure. While this isn’t always the case, you’re more likely to have saved some money and have some financial cushion as a 40+ entrepreneur. When times are tight as your business is in its early stages, you’ll hopefully have some funds to fall back on so you wont’ have to survive on Maggie noodles.
- Your friends and family might not get it. Although they may mean well, your friends and loved ones might not be as supportive of your entrepreneurial endeavours as you’d hoped. It happens. Communicating your ambitions to them and preparing them for the transition can help avoid conflict – and hard feelings.
- You might be set in your ways. As you get older, it’s easy to become inflexible and unable to see possibilities that are obvious to younger people. Surrounding yourself with younger people, including entrepreneurs in their 20s and 30s, is one way you make sure you have plenty of fresh perspectives.
The 50s and above
- You’ve got life experience. As an older startup, you’ve got real-world knowledge of what works and what doesn’t, how long things are likely to take and how human relationships (an essential ingredient in any startup) really work.
- You have a network of contacts. Most 50s and older have spent decades in the work force and have hundreds of professional contacts to call on. All of them can be sources of new business and new ideas.
- Your skills might need refreshing. If you’re used to an executive position, you may not have had to do the “grunt work” that comes with being an entrepreneur. Nothing’s beneath you now, so start learning.
- Your stamina isn’t what it used to be. As the years pass, most of us just don’t have the same energy level we did when we were younger. Starting and running a business are both mentally and physically demanding. It’s important to recognise and work around your limitation by taking care of yourself.
In a nutshell
Regardless of your age, being an entrepreneur offers rewards and demands sacrifices. Before you jump in:
- Do your homework to get a grip on the costs associated with starting and running a business.
- Do some market and competitive research to better understand the opportunities and risks.
- Take a good hard look at your financial situation before deciding to quit your day job.
- Talk with other entrepreneurs, preferably in a similar type of business, to learn how to navigate common pitfalls.
And if you decide to move forward, embrace your unique qualities and use them to your advantage. And don’t forget to enjoy the journey!