Here’s a fact: the average age of entrepreneurs is around 45.
Surprised? Don’t be. We also see the hundreds of headlines and articles about young, eccentric, and, most importantly, successful entrepreneurs shared on our socials. Mark Zuckerberg is probably the first person who comes to mind when we hear those words. But he and a few others repeatedly mentioned in said success narratives are outliers—exceptions, not the rule.
The data agrees with us as well. Young entrepreneurs’ businesses succeed at a much lower rate than those who start with a decade or two of professional experience. For every Mark Zuckerberg, a thousand other young entrepreneurs with big dreams and a solid work ethic will fail in their business pursuit.
Much of this hype and mythmaking are about survivorship bias. No one wants to hear about the young entrepreneur who started a business, took on a lot of debt, got unlucky, failed, and finally decided to crawl back to their day job. That kind of story won’t get much traction on social media.
When you sit down and genuinely consider the breadth of skills and knowledge necessary to run a business, it becomes clear that professionals who have put years into relevant work should logically be better at it. They will have more refined business acumen and a clearer understanding of business processes and systems.
Younger people usually have fewer skills and less experience in fully running a business. A 40-something professional who has climbed the corporate ladder and contributed to different areas of a company will have a much higher chance of building a successful business.
We know how inspiring it is to see prodigies succeed at a craft. However, we must acknowledge that they are rare in the field of entrepreneurship. And as helpful as it may sound to emulate their habits and mindsets, it is essential to ground your expectations in reality as well.
The Danger in Believing a Myth
For entrepreneurs past the age of 30, seeing all these news headlines praising the grit, motivation, and success of their younger, sparkly-eyed counterparts can feel disheartening. Especially when they can honestly say they’ve put just as much into the pursuit as these famous founders. It may even kill any sense of hope in your business ever succeeding if you feel like you’ve already passed a critical point in its life cycle.
“They managed to be profitable way earlier. Why can’t I?”
To the peers of these successful young founders, they become a constant symbol of inspiration, envy, and anxiety. The myth creates false hopes and conceals the massive difficulties and risks of starting a business alone. It can also become a nagging reminder and a dreadful ticking deadline highlighting your ineptitude and inadequacies in building your own business.
The Lesson for Young and Not-So-Young Entrepreneurs
We realize that saying you should go out there, build a career, and master some skills runs contrary to the mainstream conception of the “spirit” of entrepreneurship—being your own boss, taking risks, and all that.
We’re not here to discourage young entrepreneurs from taking the leap. We’re saying: start that business but don’t quit your day job just yet. Be strategic, learn and master valuable skills, and take those opportunities in your current job to grow as an individual. Then, when the time is right, you can pursue that business to the best of your abilities. That way, you give yourself the best chance at success.
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