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STARTUP

This Is the Age You’re Most Likely to Succeed as a Startup Founder (Hint: It’s Not 21)

If you’ve ever thought it was too late to start a company, it’s time to think again.

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BY Robbie Abed - 17 Jun 2018

This Is the Age You're Most Likely to Succeed as a Startup Founder (Hint: It's Not 21)

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

It's become a clich to think about the concept of a twenty-something tech mogul showing up to meetings with investors in a bathrobe and slippers. We've all heard the stories of incredibly gifted individuals who run the hottest new mobile app. d

However, my take on this matter is that this concept of the "young entrepreneur" gets over-sensationalized and can be discouraging to many entrepreneurs.

Older entrepreneurs can feel intimidated to start a new business, with what seems like a sea of young people dominating the space. And it's equally damaging to the younger crowd, who might assume that it is simple to start a business, and that it will inevitably lead to fame, fortune, and an easy life.

In reality, entrepreneurship can be both difficult and highly rewarding -- for any age.

So just how old are most entrepreneurs?

According to an article published by MIT, research from the Census Bureau reports that most founders are in their early forties -- between 42 and 45, to be exact.

This shouldn't be surprising. It actually points to two key components of successful entrepreneurship: experience and expertise.

Experience is a predictor of a successful founder.

There's no denying that experience has its perks. Ask any fresh college grad the number one thing holding them back from their dream job, aside from debt, and it's probably a lack of experience.

Experience gives you a nuanced perspective on your industry, on customer relationships and expectations, and how to manage people. What experience lacks in youthful fervor, it makes up in wisdom. This isn't to say that young people aren't wise, but experience gives you more reference points to have at your disposal.

Expertise often -- but not always -- comes with experience.

Generally speaking, mastery takes decades of hard work, which is why so many entrepreneurs have successful careers as employees before they venture into business for themselves.

That said, the occasional young prodigy is able to break the mold and create something completely innovative that changes the market forever. While people like Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs are rare, many young people have new perspectives on ways to make things work easier, or improve them.

My thoughts

In my experience, I know firsthand how ambitious I was when I was younger. I wanted to take the world by storm and thought that I could conquer any obstacle.

What I didn't realize is that we don't know what we don't know. This is why young people aren't always best suited to become entrepreneurs.

However, it is true that the younger generation does things differently--it's always the case in any society. Combine creative ideas with specific skill sets like coding, or programming, and young people can be ready to change the world.

I also feel that it is important for entrepreneurs to remember that our society loves to hype up the massively successful people, and play up their youth. While this makes a great headline and attracts readers, it isn't realistic. These people are outliers.

Most successful entrepreneurs have some gray hairs. Combining a high level of expertise with relevant work experience is the perfect formula for determining readiness for entrepreneurship -- not age.

 

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