When we think of high-growth, venture-backed founders, we often think of young founders who weren’t a day over 22 when they started their companies. We think of people like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
However, findings published by MIT have found that the average age of startup founders is actually 45. So, while some people may not realize it, those older than 40 can have great success starting their own companies. Rather than thinking it’s too late, here’s why 40 is a great time to start your business:
You have access to capital, both human and financial.
Normally when one thinks of capital, they automatically think of financial. While this is true, there are other forms of capital that are essential for starting a company, one being human capital.
This type of capital involves a deep network and long-standing partnerships that can help add structure, credibility and resources to the company you want to create. Younger entrepreneurs are less likely to have had the time to network and develop these important business relationships.
Time brings the ability to store up a greater amount of capital compared to someone in their 20s who has lived half as long. By capital, I don’t just mean financial capital, though you likely have managed to create more significant assets and have a better chance of bootstrapping your startup.
You know who you are and make good decisions because of it.
Much of our lives are spent trying to figure out who we are and what we want. As a midpoint in your life, your 40s often clarify some of those questions. A strong sense of self is valuable for business owners because it becomes much easier to determine what to delegate, how you can use your skills appropriately and how you can identify and select the right talent that fits your values and goals.
Just because I was older didn’t mean I had all the answers, so I found it extremely valuable to lean on others who had specific expertise that I may have been lacking. Being older and not having the fear of asking for help was extremely valuable for me.
You’re good at prioritizing work and life.
This is one of Clayton Christianson’s main points in his book How Will You Measure Your Life? He saw hundreds of people coming back with degrees from Harvard divorced and unhappy because they lacked the ability to prioritize well. Learning how to balance life takes time, and if you’re over 40, you’ve had some practice.
At 40, you probably have more responsibilities and demands. Depending on your own situation, you may have a family and numerous tasks outside of work that put more demands on your time than if you were in your 20s.
However, you also may have the wisdom, patience and maturity to better understand how to balance those tasks and responsibilities. For me, having a family as a support unit is a tremendous asset, not a hindrance to business success. They have given me the motivation, assistance and confidence to see my startup through and continue growing it into a flourishing business.
If you’re older than 40, now may be the right time to take the leap.
You may be the ideal candidate to become a startup founder if you are in your 40s. Remember, age is mostly just a number. No matter what age you are, you will need to consider those impacted by this decision, your financial position and your life goals. That’s why your mindset, as opposed to just your physical age, becomes a big part of how you approach the idea of starting a business.
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