The pros and cons of becoming an entrepreneur later in life
34-year old Mark Zuckerberg might seem like the poster child for successful entrepreneurs – but, as it turns out, his youth actually puts him in the minority. Forbes reports that the majority of successful entrepreneurs are middle-aged or older. According to Entrepreneur, People older than 55 years of age have double the likelihood of launching a high-growth business venture as compared against people under the age of 35.
Why is that? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons senior citizens tend to make outstanding entrepreneurs. Let’s also discuss a few of the things that can hold seniors back from success in entrepreneurship.
The pros of becoming an entrepreneur later in life
Life experience gives seniors an advantage
The longer you live, the greater your accumulation of life experience. An older person has a fundamental understanding of how long any given project is likely to take, how much money is realistically needed to accomplish a given task and how human relationships function. In contrast, lack of life experience can put younger founders at a disadvantage in understanding each of these areas.
Seniors are likelier to have well-developed professional networks
Many senior citizens have spent decades in the workforce and have cultivated a lifetime’s worth of professional contacts. Solid human relationships are important for every facet of business – including finding trustworthy suppliers, hiring talented employees and finding qualified customers.
Seniors are likelier to be able to fund their businesses
People tend to accumulate wealth as they age. This is in part because salaries often grow in correlation with experience, and experience grows with age. As salaries grow, they can be invested to create even more wealth. Sure, there are broke seniors and affluent young people -- but, in many cases, age can be a major advantage when it comes to securing the funds necessary to manage a business.
Cons of starting a business later in life
Seniors may need to update their business skills
Many, but not all, seniors have demonstrated the ability to keep pace with technology trends as well as young people do. But if you’ve fallen behind, you might have to invest some effort in educating yourself about whichever up-and-coming technologies will affect your own business and the businesses of your customers. This is an ongoing obligation that isn’t unique to seniors; everyone has to worry about the ever-accelerating pace of technological innovation in the future economy.
Seniors are less likely to have attained beneficial levels of higher education
The Herald reports that Australian baby boomers’ participation rate in higher education has been weak as compared against that of Generations X and Y.
Considering that the typical entrepreneur is well educated, higher education could potentially be a factor that increases one’s chances for success in business. One survey of successful entrepreneurs showed that the vast majority (more than 95 percent) hold bachelor’s degrees, whilst nearly half (47 percent) hold master’s degrees.
An important takeaway: If you’re considering entrepreneurship, and you haven’t already studied business courses, you’re likely to find them helpful.
Senior citizens are well suited for entrepreneurship. Overall, there are more pros than cons to starting a business later in life. There are definitely many advantages to choosing entrepreneurship over retirement.