The one thing 82% of Gen Z agree on is that they want to be entrepreneurs. And, I have to admit that having started my first business when I was 25, I too think of startups as being a young person’s game. After all. Steve Jobs started Apple, Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook and Bill Gates launched Microsoft when they were in their twenties.
Yet. if you feel that at 40 or 50, you’re too old to launch a new venture, it turns out you’re not only ageist, you’re wrong.
A study published in the Harvard Business Review, sites the findings of professors from Northwestern and MIT who found that even in consumer-facing high tech industries, the average age of founders falls in the early forties. In other industries such as oil and gas or biotechnology, the average age is closer to 47.
What’s interesting is what they found about the men and women behind successful startups: The average age of these founders went UP not down. The evidence compiled by the principal economist from the Census Bureau found that successful entrepreneurs tend to be middle-aged, not young.
I work with clients between the ages of 20 and 70 and what I’ve found is that all of us tend to view ourselves (and our chronological age) from the perspective of our younger self. So if you’re 40, it’s your 20-year-old self who thinks you’re already past your sell-by date. If you’re 60, its your 40-year-old self who feels you should be retired by now.
That’s why it can be so helpful to check in with your future self and have a chat with yourself from the perspective of 20 years in the future
You could also find it useful to ditch Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and find those entrepreneurs who were your age or older when they launched.
The founders of McDonald’s, Coca Cola, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, for instance, were all over 50 when they launched their empires.
Journalist Vera Wang did not even begin designing clothes professionally until the age of 39 and Reed Hastings started Netflix DVD rental when he was 37 and didn’t begin streaming till he was 47.
Jim Butenschoen was 65 when he retired from the IT industry to start the now hugely successful Career Academy of Hair Design.
In the words of the HBR: “If you were faced with two entrepreneurs and knew nothing about them besides their age, you would do better, on average, betting on the older one.”
Remy Blumenfeld is a creative life coach living in London. He empowers leaders to play the game of life with purpose, grace, and ease. Before training as a coach, he launched a TV Production company that created dozens of groundbreaking, TV shows.