Too Old to Rock-n-Roll but Too Young to Die? – The Older Entrepreneur


“When working on a difficult task, ask for help. But ask to the busy person. They will certainly have some time to help you. The idle person is always too busy to help”. Abraham Kasinsky

There are several well known entrepreneurs that started successful business, not fresh from school, but at an older age. This goes a bit against the popular belief that one needs to be young and full of energy, willing to work extenuating long hours and being a virtually non-stoppable do-it-all-alone person. Well, let’s keep in mind that success does not come by chance or by high levels of caffeine in the bloodstream. Success happens when planning meets experience and hard work.

Stories abound of entrepreneurs that created and grew a successful business at a later age. This is supported by research from Dr. Juan Enriquez, founder of the Harvard Business School Life Sciences Project and TED speaker. Dr Enriquez found that the average age of the successful start-up entrepreneur is 54. Surprised? Yes, the young entrepreneur superiority is a myth!

The Kauffman Foundation identified more supporting data. Their researchers found that people older than 55 are twice as likely to found successful companies. In 2010 (in the USA) the 55 to 64 age group was responsible for over 20% of new business creation.

Some examples of older entrepreneurs that come to my mind:

  • Dave Anderson – Founded the restaurant chain Famous Daves at age 41 (USA)
  • Mark Pincus – Founded Zynga at age 41 (USA)
  • Robert Noyce – Founded Intel at age 41 (USA)
  • Craig Newmark – Founded Cragislist at age 42
  • Orville Redenbacher – bought the company that later developed the microwave popcorn at age 44 (USA)
  • Ray Kroc – Bought McDonalds (and made it what it is today) at age 52 (USA)
  • Harland Sanders – Founded KFC at age 65 (USA)
  • Abraham Kasinsky – Founded Kasinsky Motorcycles at age 82 (Brazil)

A quick search on Google shows that there are many other examples of older entrepreneurs that created companies of all sizes in many industries and countries.

In my opinion the older entrepreneur has some advantages over the younger, all of them proved to be success factors for any start-up:

  • Industry knowledge
  • Experience
  • Large support network
  • Maturity
  • Access to capital

Well, maybe the mainstream media talks so much about the young entrepreneur because they are harder to find?

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