Monday, May 30, 2011

Many of The Best Entrepreneurs Started After 40

Picture: Shutterstock
Some myths have to be dissolved. Fast. Like „the 40+ are too old for starting their business“. New business owner age cannot be the decisive factor for predicting any business success, similarly as it should not be gender or race. Not just in the IT/Internet sphere, but overall. Ageism campaigns do not result in a good business discussion, they just widen the inter-generational gap.

Adeo Ressi (39), the founder of The Founder Institute and (who himself started first Internet business at the age of 22), has had enough of reading recent articles, proclaiming that „25 is the peak age for entrepreneurship“. He published in TechCrunch thorough data driven response, observing e.g. that: „It does not take but one minute to look around the world and prove any thesis of a peak tech founder age incorrect. There are countless entrepreneurs over the age of 30, including Reid Hoffman (age 35 in 2002), Evan Williams of Twitter (age 35 in 2007), Mark Pincus of Zynga (age 41 in 2007), Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post (age 54 in 2005), among many others.“

“In some cases, older entrepreneurs paired up with the younger founders, like Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin were both age 25 in 1998, and Eric Schmidt was age 46 in 2001). In other cases, more successful clones were launched by older entrepreneurs, like Amazon (Jeff Bezos was age 30 in 1994). And, many young founders were pushed out or sidelined for more seasoned leaders, like with PayPal (Peter Thiel took over from younger founders when he was age 31 in 1998)."

There is no best age to start a business. Opportunity is what is needed. As we grow older, we simply trade off one set of advantages for another. There will continue to be stories of „older entrepreneurs“ who have been able to drive step change innovation while thousands of youngsters copied them. As well as „American dream“ hero stories of young undergraduates who dropped the university to become multi-billionaires (like Apple´s Steve Job did after one semester at the age of 18).  As long as we are able to identify in these real life stories the victories of great business idea, of personality traits, of perseverance and passion to change the world for the better, the age will not matter, neither for the critics, nor for the investors.

Entrepreneurship may not be actively pursued by many people. It comes with the right opportunity when a person is ready to seize it. The readiness of the market has to match entrepreneur´s visions, missions, abilities, skills, personal traits and timing.

Entrepreneurship may not be for everyone. You either have a passion and courage to drive a business of your own or you don´t. The discriminator however should not be the age. Especially when you are not yet retired.

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