By Scott Vollero
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. That’s been the conventional wisdom for a long time. But conventional doesn’t necessarily mean accurate. In fact, research shows that people ages 55–64 (baby boomers, as they’re called) have a higher rate of new business startups than their younger counterparts—people ages 20–34, the group that traditionally engages in risk-taking business ventures.
There is ample material on the internet proving that it’s not the age of the founder that determines whether a business will be a success. Younger entrepreneurs may be the ones who generate the flashy headlines when they start a business, but it is the older entrepreneurs who bring with them a lifetime of learning.
Those who start a business later in life can successfully argue that they have a better chance of reaching their goal of a thriving, successful business. In fact, if you are over 55, your chances of launching a high-growth startup is twice that of your younger counterparts. What you bring to the table cannot be imitated.
You have invaluable life experience
A baby boomer starting a business can contribute the unquestionable benefit of years of life experience to his or her new venture. Older entrepreneurs are seasoned in the realities of the world’s workings. They bring a level of business understanding that can only come from experience, and this experience can’t be duplicated by someone fresh out of college.
Boomers who start a business tend to be more patient and willing to work through the steps necessary for a successful business startup. They understand the importance of things like making a business plan, having a solid financial plan and conducting market research instead of diving blindly into a new venture.
You know people who know people
Most older people have a large and diverse network of colleagues and peers that’s been formed over a lifetime. These connections can be invaluable as your business is getting started. You’ve probably met and even worked with professionals and experts who could share their advice or support your endeavor with services in their area of expertise. You may know attorneys and accountants, venture capitalists and contractors, designers and writers who would be willing to work with you in getting your business up and running. A network of this depth can take years to build and is a huge asset when you’re starting a business.
You can set goals and then achieve them
An integral part of starting and running a business is setting realistic goals, and you need to know how and when to adjust these goals during the life of the business. Young entrepreneurs don’t always understand the importance of smart goal-setting in life, whereas older business founders are more experienced in setting goals and working toward a desired outcome. Many of the actions necessary for a successful outcome come second-nature to more seasoned entrepreneurs. Life experience can also help a founder remain objective when considering different paths to take to reach business goals and move the business forward.
Your experience appeals to investors
Investors are all about making money. Some may favor younger entrepreneurs because it is easier for an investor to get a bigger ownership stake (and thus, more control) in a startup by an inexperienced founder. However, older entrepreneurs can offer better chances of being successful and generating an income stream over a longer period of time. Many venture capitalists therefore look for the amenities that older entrepreneurs bring to the table.
You are more financially secure
If you start a business when you’re young, you’ll probably be juggling the cost of your business with the rest of life’s major investments, such as mortgage payments, child expenses, automobile payments and insurance payments. Although older people still have living expenses, older entrepreneurs are more likely to have already paid off a significant portion of life’s major purchases. This can free up cash to invest in a business.
You don’t fear failure
Everyone fails at something during their lifetime. The older we get, the more failures we have endured, and thus the more opportunities we’ve had to learn from our mistakes. Lessons learned from failures can be a huge benefit when starting up a business. Having failed and survived, you’ll be less likely to fear another failure. You’ll be more confident in your decision-making abilities, just one more powerful reason an older entrepreneur can start and build a successful business.