What’s the best age to start a business?

This is a blog post written for The Business Centre, originally posted here.

Starting anything new can be daunting and unnerving, but starting your own business and becoming your own boss holds attractive prospects for many, whether it’s an e-commerce business or the creation of a new and wonderful product designed to make folding your socks easier. However, starting your own business is a risky endeavour and takes more than a great idea to make it work. Back in 2005, Paul Graham delivered a speech at Harvard University: How to Start a Start Up and he identified three components to creating a successful start up:

  1. Start with good people
  2. Make a product that customers want
  3. Spend as little money as possible

He said that a start up that successfully manages these three concepts will probably succeed. Although he was speaking over a decade ago, his advice is still as relevant now as it was then.

We are constantly hearing about the young and ambitious entrepreneurs in their early twenties and thirties looking to disrupt and change, the way we do things and in large they are often behind some of the large number of start ups that do go on to succeed. There are many advantages to becoming an entrepreneur in your twenties – equally, there’s many disadvantages – that make you driven and hungry for success. An example of an incredibly ambitious 12 year old is Kendall of Kendall Laine Bakery who has been making delicious ‘cake pops’ to order for almost 5 years now! Of course Kendall has what many young entrepreneurs have: a strong support system from their family often providing some sort of financial security.

Other benefits to becoming an entrepreneur in your 20/30s, can be derived from the amount of time you have in which to fill with potential gains. The earlier you start your own businesses; the more time you have to be successful. Plus, typically at 20 you’ll have less commitments – family and financial – than you would have at 40, offering the freedom to be more experimental in business endeavours.

However, whilst many argue that you have the youth and ambition to be more successful in your 20s and 30s, that’s not to say many entrepreneurs over the age of 50 aren’t highly successful. Quite the opposite, studies have been carried out that shows that many great entrepreneurs are older than we think…and according to the Guardian, despite media speculation about the entrepreneurial spirit of the younger generation, the average age of an entrepreneur in the UK is 47.

Interestingly, a term coined by some 50+ entrepreneurs is ‘olderpreneurs’ representing those who are starting their own businesses in their 50s and upwards. Andy Yates writing for online magazine, realbusiness, states that older entrepreneurs or ‘olderpreneurs’ are more likely to be successful due to their vast amount of life experience leaving them with a passion to use these skills they’ve developed over a lifetime and to put these skills to good use.

Molly Cain, author of ‘Life Hacks from a 90 year old’ discusses how the concept of the retirement can mean different things, for some it means traveling the world, whilst for others it marks the end of one journey and the beginning of something newer and better. This latter view perfectly sums up the reasons why more over 50s in the UK are starting their own businesses at record numbers, even more than are falling into the 18-29 category. Find out more stats about the demographic of UK entrepreneurs in this Financial Times article. Surely this uneven balance in the ages of British entrepreneurs challenges the popular image of the young and driven entrepreneur?

Today, whatever your age, it’s never been easier to set up a company, with digital technology and the internet bringing about, amongst other thins, the rise of the Virtual Office. Many serviced offices now offer this service with an option of using the meeting rooms at the offices for conferences and meetings. Giving entrepreneurs a flexible option and saving them the cost of setting up a physical office in the first years of starting their business.

So, embarking on a new journey is always going to start with a cautious first step whether you have the life experience of a 50 year old or the ambitious drive of a fresh university graduate, however, with the right direction, backing and idea, and in today’s flexible internet driven world, almost anyone can give being an entrepreneur a go. As John F. Kennedy said: things do not happen, things are made to happen.

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