Posting in Healthcare
The time-honored stories of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Jerry Yang, and Sergey Brin starting up their ventures while just barely out of thei...
The time-honored stories of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Jerry Yang, and Sergey Brin starting up their ventures while just barely out of their teens are the stuff of entrepreneurial legends. But the typical first-time entrepreneur is not a 20-something -- research shows that their average age is 40. (Which says that half are even older.)
Ian Mount, writing in CNNMoney, cites a new study out of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation that looked at the histories of 549 company founders and found they tended to act on their entrepreneurial impulses a bit later in life.
Maybe they simply had enough of working for The Man at that point. As Vivek Wadhwa of Duke University's Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization put it: "People typically come to a stage where they're tired of working for other people. They think, 'I'm 40 and I haven't made it big yet. This is my last chance.' That really spurs the entrepreneurial spirit."
In a previous post here at SmartPlanet, we cited the work of Paul Kedrosky, senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation and editor of Infectious Greed, an economics blog, who discussed some of the issues faced by the typical over-35 entrepreneur. The biggest obstacle for these individuals, who tend to have families, is healthcare coverage. "Their concern is 'what happens if I get sick,'" he explains. "And that prevents many of those people from going out and being entrepreneurial."
Of course, entrepreneurship doesn't have to necessarily mean bailing out of the corporate world and hanging out one's own shingle. Successful companies know how to foster the entrepreneurial spirit from within, so when those 40-something employees get the itch, they have an outlet where they test and build their ideas and innovations. It's smart business to nurture and enable the entrepreneurial spirit that will enable individuals to generate their own success; as well as the company's success.
Aug 19, 2009
ryan-s. As a 44 year old entrepreneur, I disagree. After 40 is a better time to start your own compay than when you're in your twenties. However, I would also add that any time is a good time. "No one thinks of being an entrepreneur as a survival strategy", but they should. I graduated from college into a recession where there were no jobs. I was on welfare. After the first year, I tried starting my own company. It failled. But the very fact that I tried got me a lot of interviews in the following months and eventually a well paying job. That well paying job allowed me to buy a house and pay off the mortgage. It allowed me to pay off my student loans. Simply put, it allowed me to reduce how much money I and my family need in order to survive. Let's face it. Most start-ups don't make it. Most fail within 3 years. It's hard being an entrepreneur. The energy of youth would be a fine thing, but it's the financial security of age that lets it happen. One of my clients runs an ISP. He worked for NorTel for years, but lived in a sub-rural area with no high-speed internet. Using his full-time job, he started his own ISP just so he could get the service he wanted. He no longer works for NorTel. When they laid him off, the ISP became his full time job. My experience is almost identical. Most entrepreneurs over 40, I would suggest, start their own companies first as a side-line, and then move tothem. They are the back-up plan for when (not if) the economy tanks again and they lose their jobs. The remainder get into it because after years of working for the man, they find themselves unemployed or underemployed, and they need something they can rely on. When you work for someone else, you rely on your CEO and your bosses to make the right decisions that will lead to your survival. When you're your own boss, you're the one making those decisions, and by the time you're 40, I think you have the life experience to be able to make those decisions reasonably well.
I haven't done research on this topic but I would say that 40 is probably a little late to make a first attempt into starting a business. Starting a company takes considerable long hours, too much focus and execution. My friend who is 28 started a online dating site. At 40, the person sure benefits from the wisdom collected over years but is missing the never ending and not giving up enthusiasm in a 20 year old.