50+ entrepreneurs? Successful and inspiring!
International researchers Pierre Azoulay, Benjamin Jones, J. Daniel Kim and Javier Miranda came to the perhaps somewhat unexpected conclusion in 2020 (https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aeri.20180582) that successful entrepreneurs tend to be older than expected.
Nevertheless, the Gates, Zückerbergs, Jobs and Musks of this world have led us to suspect that top entrepreneurs make a difference very early in their careers. However, the study in which scientists collected data from 2.7 million company founders between 2007 and 2014 showed that + 50’ers are 1.8 times more likely to succeed. "Our main conclusion is that founders are particularly successful if they are middle-aged or older when starting their companies. ", was said then.
The average age of the entrepreneurs surveyed was 41.9 years, according to the study. The second remarkable result indicated that the average age of founders of companies with the strongest growth reached even 45 years. This regardless of the sector or geographical area.
Experience, a special asset
The examples of successful tycoons who did not gain momentum until middle age are legion. Colonel Sanders, for example, founded KFC at 62, Gordon Bowker Starbucks when he was 51.
The 2020 study also showed that the better the founder knows a professional environment and industry, the higher the success rate is. And, let us not forget that Steve Jobs founded his company Apple when he was 20, but did not really peak in the stock market until around age 48.
Ellen Kocher, Inspiring Health & Wellness Coach, Workplace Wellbeing Specialist, Speaker, Workshop Facilitator, Author, 50+ Motivator, is also convinced of the entrepreneurial potential of the over-50s (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/older-founders-5-reasons-why-50-something-more-ellen-kocher/?trk=pulse-article_more-articles_related-content-card).
She likes to refer to people like three-star Michelin chef Helene Darroze, or McDonald's Ray Kroc and many others who created a successful business after 50. COVID-19 destroyed jobs on a scale forcing an explosion of entrepreneurs out of need - and opportunity. According to Small Biz Trends statistics for 2021, people between the 50 and 59 are at the top of the startup founders list with 35%.
Life lessons from more mature entrepreneurs
So those who are approaching or have crossed the 50 mark and harbour ambitions to take matters into their own hands to go into self-employment may feel encouraged by these statistics. Why more mature "young" business leaders reap success more easily is another question. Desk research and polling already provide some fascinating explanations. A short list of the most common ones:
1. When children are of age and independent, a new world opens up for many entrepreneurs, with less stress and more wisdom.
2. There is often also some money saved so there is enough financial security to start a project and give it time to succeed.
3. Fun also often comes back: what one enjoys doing, one does well.
4. Moreover, there is a growing realization that time flies. Mature people know this too, but passion does not extinguish, continuing to dream is essential to stay mentally young. Starting your own business, launching a product or service, are ardent desires that can keep a fifty-something young forever.
5. With years of professional experience, over-50s have also not infrequently built up a network or community that they can fall back on to exchange views or open doors that can kick-start their ambitious projects.
6. These networks can also take a virtual form. Some "seniors" seem to have been reborn as "digital natives" where some readily admit that Instagram, Tiktok or Meta are not for them. In itself, no big deal, as long as they manage to surround themselves with (younger) people who can handle SEO and consorts smoothly. Intergenerational duos are often ideal partners for success.
7. Finally, also this: those who start a business at 50 or later have often had bad luck. He or she also encountered quite a few pitfalls on the road to success. It is a matter of falling down and getting up stronger.