I’m writing an article for Connect Magazine that explores the question of what is the ideal age at which someone should start a business and am looking for some quotes from other entrepreneurs.
The question I put to you is at what age or stage of your life are you ideally suited to be an entrepreneur? Is it when you’re a teenager, in your early 20s, newly married in your mid-20s with little to risk, in your early 30s after getting some work experience and an MBA, or in your 40s once you’ve saved up your own capital and have a wealth of experience? What are the pros and cons of starting a business at each stage?
If you respond to this post I’m going to take that as permission to use your quote in this article which will be printed in a future issue of Connect and read by 30,000 people. I will probably only consider your quote if you have actual entrepreneurial experience as a founder of a company or are heavily involved with founders (i.e. you work at a VC firm). However, feel free to chiime in whether or not you fit into those two categories.Liked it? Share it!
Entrepreneurs start companies.
Opportunity is what is needed, not experience, security, or age. The opportunity cost for starting a new business is extreme and only goes up with spouse, kids, mortgage, lifestyle. I think it’s these factors that inhibit many would be entrepreneurs from throwing in the job and joining a startup.
Here’s my list of forgetable startups over the last 15 years and my age in cronological order:
8 Wheel Drive – clothing company – 27, failed
Wobbily – funky furniture company – 33, failed
Overheard – internet blogging aggregator – 35, failed
Here’s my list of startups still in busines in some form:
Realist Painter – just me – 18, on the backburner for now.
Expansive Realist Movement – not for profit – 26, still there but not actively involved
Russian American Society for the Protection of Animals – not for profit – 28, still there but not actively involved
Surface Medical – medical services – 33, going strong
Wild Blue – advertising – 33, going strong
MedicalSpasOnline.com – online magazine (blog) – 38, growing fast http://www.medicalspasonline.com
Surface Physician Training – trains physicians – 40, just starting
Nimble – tech startup (internet marketplace) – current startup
The perfect age for an entrepreneure to launch a startup is whatever age you are. The only way to really learn what you need to know is to do it. (Appologies to the 2500 new college level entrepreneurial programs in colleges.) It’s on the job training.
What can’t a college teach you? How to negotiate with your spouse for one.
I would wager anyones dinner at Fight Club that a would be entrepreneurs spouse not ‘buying into the program’ is the number one reason married entrepreneurs don’t go with a startup.
It’s not age, it’s ambition and opportunity.
If this is a question about when the right time to start your own business is, then my answer to that question would be, there’s never a right time to go into business for yourself. Time is never quite on your side, Money is always a lot tighter then you think, and Resources are always much, much, more limited then you previously thought. If the question then is “What’s the right age to start your business”, My answer’s also would be, there’s no right age to do it either. Really the only question behind undertaking such an immense task is, What’s your break point? what is your limit? When are fed up with exhausting your energies and your talents only to make other people a lot of money that you’ll never see or spend? Those should be your questions in deciding to start your own business. You know your ready when you’re no longer affraid to look at this giagantic world and say “I think my ideas can change this place and make it better”. When you finally decide you’re willing to sacrifice your security, wealth, and day to day monotony for something far more important, then your ready. Your long term happiness should be your driving motivation. When is the right time to start a business? I think when a person’s willing to break away from what’s safe and what’s logical and put themseves under the immense weight and responsibility of starting something that they beleive in, something they’re willing to fight for, and keep fighting for for a long time. That’s when you know your ready to go. There is no age limit, no secret hand shake or big collage degree required to hold the title of Entrepreneur. The only rquirement is your will and willingness to fight and suceed. You could be 14 and have an idea that will change the world as we know it or you could be 75 bored and unhappy and decide after all those years you need a little bit more in your life. The only common denominator in these sucess stories is that they belived in themselves and were willing to be tried and tested in there endevours. Great business’s are started everyday by everyday people and If your ideas are something your willing to stand behind, through ridicule, doubt, and uncertainty, then you could fall in rank with these brave indaviduals. If your willing to fight no matter what’s said or done and you stand behind what you believe in and work without stop until it’s brought to fruition, then you are ready to start your own business. Your determination is the only requirement to walk through these doors! Not a suite and not a tie.
I think the best age to start a business is about 13. It may succeed, or it may fail, but there is generally very little risk and the basic lessons remain the same—you get rewarded for working hard, taking care of your customers, sticking to it and marketing your business. Too many adults, whether they are just out of college or 50 years old, don’t really appreciate these simple principles. So they decide they want to make a lot of money and don’t like their job and they start something they don’t have the stomach for.
I really don’t think there is an ideal age to start a business. When you’re in your twenties you don’t have much to lose, you’ve got a lot of energy and you don’t have to unlearn the comfortable habits you develop in established companies. When you’re older you have the benefit of experience, contacts, maybe a financial cushion, all of which can be invaluable. And when you’re retired you have … wisdom. And perspective. And another income. And a spouse who would rather have you out of the house doing something anyway.
I can tell you that I am a lot more confident now at 33 than I was at 27 when I was in my first real start up. The younger you are the more able you are to take on risk but the older you get and the more experience you get – you may have a better chance at success.
There is no right or wrong age. It depends on each individual person. More important than the “ideal” age is the question of ideal team. The right team will kill it whether they are 25 or 75.
When I was about 14, my Dad told me, “Son, whatever you do in life, make sure it makes you money when you’re sleeping.” At the time, he was referring to his beef cows standing at the manger eating hay and gaining weight but the principle he taught me holds true today.
I believe that the age someone should start a business is the age that he or she realizes the truth in my Dads statement AND is willing to take the appropriate risk to finally “do it”. Many people believe the statement but are unwilling to expose themselves to the risk involved. The age may be 15 or it may be 50. For me it was 32, for my brother it was 45. For my dad, it was 18. He is 83 now and still going strong.
If one describes a “startup” as a new organization with a dedicated purpose (profit or non-profit) there is no right or wrong age to begin. However, the type of organization started will dramatically change as one gets older. A 12-year-old strategic analyst is as equally absurd as a 40-year old running a lemonade stand.
Starting a new venture at a young age (early teens) is a great way to fine-tune business acumen and learn some basic facts about entrepreneurship. These early chances will likely fail if being measured from a pure profitability standpoint but can provide valuable learning experience and important lessons that become increasingly more expensive to learn as one gets older.
A profitable service business like painting, landscaping, etc. is a great way for a high school student to put a little money in the pocket while maintaining flexibility but will not probably not be a scaleable idea that will lead to early retirement.
The early 20’s is a great time to experiment with broader markets and “unique” long-shot opportunities. This is probably the best time to swing for the fences and try to take an unproven technology to a 30x return because the likelihood of failure is highest and the young entrepreneur is more likely to bounce back from a spectacular failure at this age than probably any other.
If an entrepreneur hasn’t already knocked one out of the park, it becomes increasingly important to step up back from the high-risk ventures and try to develop a less aggressive model that will have a high likelihood of success in order to provide for a steady income during the family raising years. The closer an entrepreneur gets to 30, the more important it is to develop a longer term view and maybe try to string together a few singles or doubles instead of going down swinging at the last chance for a walk-off home run.
Forty-year-old entrepreneurs are probably more likely to be broken down into two main categories. Those who have enjoyed the success of a significant exit from previous ventures should be set for life and may want to take on a slightly more senior role in another fairly risky venture. Those who have seen only modest success to date may want to become even more focused on stability and find a lower risk opportunity or return to the ever-dreaded job market to secure their financial future.
Entrepreneurs past middle age run the gamut. Those who are brilliantly successful may now invest a portion of their rewards in ongoing high-risk ideas. Moderately successful entrepreneurs may continue to consistently add singles and doubles to their portfolio. Still others who are fairly secure in their financial future may take the opportunity to turn towards the non-profit sector and solve a few of the world’s problems and/or make a significant difference in their chosen corner of the world.
Regardless of the age, there are always lessons to be learned (usually through painful personal experience) and opportunities to attack. Individual lessons and ventures will vary based on the experience, financial security, and tolerance for failure throughout one’s entire life. So whether it’s time for a grand-slam, a solid double, or a bunt, grab the bat and dig in!