If you listen to Silicon Valley investors, like Vinod Khosla, “People under 35 are the people who make change happen; people over 45 basically die in terms of new ideas.”
Isn't it interesting, then, that Steve Jobs was 50 when he came up with the idea for the iPhone? Regardless, the business and investment world seem to be convinced that the next Facebook, Microsoft or Google business idea will come from a twenty-something, not a middle-aged person with experience.
While Silicon Valley’s venture capitalists speak frankly of their bias, according to research at Duke and Harvard, the average and median age of tech upstart founders is 39. The research uncovered that twice as many entrepreneurs were over 50 as were under 25.
We've stereotyped who we think of as being entrepreneurial, particularly here in America. When someone says 'entrepreneur', we’re more likely to think of someone young, like Mark Zuckerberg, than someone with 20 to 30 years of experience under their belt.
What the Numbers Tell Us
According to Vivek Wadhwa, who led the Duke and Harvard research team:
In a follow-up project, we studied the backgrounds of 549 successful entrepreneurs in 12 high-growth industries,” Wadhwa said. “The average and median age of male founders in this group was 40, and a significant proportion were older than 50.
Scott Shane, Professor at Case Western Reserve University, reported the numbers from the 2011 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor U.S.:
15.4 percent of Americans aged 55-64 and 12.8 percent of Americans aged 45-54 run their own business, compared with 0.8 percent of Americans aged 18-24 and 4.9 percent of Americans aged 25-34.
While the numbers don't lie, people assume that innovation and business growth are fueled by the young. At the same time, many of us with vast experience under our belts doubt that we have anything to offer.
Why 'Age' Really Means 'Advantage'
I've been a solo entrepreneurial most of my life. I started inventing as a teen, published books throughout my twenties, and hung out my first shingle at age 27. I wasn't a risk-taker when I was young. I was just taking advantage of my education and the demand for my skills.
Family and friends say I took my big risk when I was 40. That's when I resigned my VP position with Sony Pictures Entertainment to found Autopia Car Care and lead a market with one innovative product after another. I left the business when I knew I was done innovating.
Now 55, I'm innovating again with life changing ideas that are helping me, and people like me, realize that we have a lot to offer. That's where I think investors are going wrong. Sure, every once in a while a 'Facebook idea' happens by accident. But most entrepreneurial activity come from people like you and me.
Publishing expert and entrepreneur, Michael Hyatt, sites four reasons that middle-aged entrepreneurs have more to offer:
Invest in Yourself
While the investors are wasting their cash in search of the next 'Bill Gates', we can invest in ourselves. The biggest risk you will ever take is not doing what you want, betting you can buy the freedom to do it later.
If you've reached your middle age, and you're feeling like you have less to offer than the twenty- and thirty-somethings around you, take heart. You have something the youngsters don't have. You have experience and expertise. It's not something you learn in college. It comes from hard-fought battles.
If you're still selling your hours for a living, now is the time to set your big goals. Use your life experience to craft a big idea. Share your big idea with the world by teaching others what you know. Use your life, intellectual, social and financial capital to create the life of your dreams as a solopreneur.
Question: How is your age affecting your decision to start a full-time solopreneur business?
About the Author: David is a self confessed entrepreneur, business builder and author of "stop selling your hours". You can follow and connect with him here
Don’t forget our elders can suffer in silence too: suicide prevention
Many people think that mental health and suicide are not topics that impact our elders but they could not be more wrong. The data tells us there continues to be an emerging trend when it comes to peop...
Wherever you look these days, not matter the developed country, whole population groups and peoples struggle with the daily grind of life. From children in state care to mental health, from affordable housing to the primary health system and from education to employmen...
For the last few years I have been fortunate to have been involved in the aged care sector and have seen both the lows and highs. Today we live in a world where most of us are living longer thank to more awareness around healthy living, the advancement of better medica...
You can’t go past a news paper, radio show or television news story these days without being flooded by all things Bitcoin or Crypto Currency. Some say it’s the new world of money while others suggest its all just a passing fad. Whatever your position or preference of...