Entrepreneurship after 40: Part 1
e27 believes that entrepreneurship happens at 27. Jamey Merkel of Kluje, differs. “Entrepreneurship is tough. It doesn’t matter what age you are,” he saysBy Jamey Merkel 06 Jan, 2014
Entrepreneurship requires a mixture of faith, determination, luck and a whole lot of positive attitude. Let’s face it – even at the best of times entrepreneurship is not easy. Starting with an idea and growing it into a viable company is a tall order. It requires a mixture of faith, determination, a little luck and a whole lot of positive attitude. Add to that the necessity to plan ten different things and begin executing them at the same time; all the while watching your bank balance go down, when you really want it to be going up, and you are beginning to get an inkling of what most entrepreneurs face. Well… not really. You’ll only truly understand when you do it yourself.
This is the first in a series of articles exploring entrepreneurship after the age of 40. Although there is a tonne of debate online, there really is only one answer: Age does matter, but not in the way you may think.
“Is there a peak age for entrepreneurship?” questions the research conducted by The Founder’s Institute. It states that older entrepreneurs are more likely to be successful. Why would that be? I think there are several plausible reasons, but lets start with some commonly cited ones I found:
- Younger entrepreneurs have less bad habits to unlearn. True, but they also haven’t developed many good habits either. Experience does count.
- Young entrepreneurs have less to lose. But, nothing is more motivating than having a fire lit under you. With mortgage, debts and family, success becomes the only option.
- Young entrepreneurs are more ready to change the world and “see no boundaries, see no limits, see no obstacle that they can’t hurdle”. (Michael Moritz as quoted in Time) Again true. But neither did Napoleon when he attacked Russia at 43.
What I am trying to say is that as an older entrepreneur, with some life experience under my belt, I and others like me, are just as able to handle the startup life. In fact, we have some abilities that younger founders haven’t learned yet. According to an article, ‘Do Older Or Younger Entrepreneurs Have The Greater Advantage?‘ in the Forbes, one study of 5,000 startups in the US: 48 per cent of the startups had a founder 45 years old or older. However four years later, out of the surviving companies, 64 per cent had a founder 45 years old or older. Meaning the survival rate of startups with older founders is higher. Surprised? I wasn’t.
As an older entrepreneur, I think our experience helps us in determining several key points in deciding to create a company.
- Defining the problem: As Steve Blank would say, ‘do you have a “hair on fire” problem or is it just “nice to have”?’ For example, when I decided to start kluje.com, I was first drawing on my experience as a homeowner, and trying to get a renovation done on my condo. As it turns out, I found other homeowners with the same frustrations.
- As more mature adults, we have had a bit more experience in the business world, especially with complex tasks which helps us better cope with the demands of being an entrepreneur.
Bear in mind that this my opinion, but I think there are many other older entrepreneurs who would share my thoughts. Feel free to comment or look me up on LinkedIn or Twitter. I will be more than happy to participate in a discussion. In the meantime, enjoy disrupting your market.
Join me next time when we continue to explore ‘Entrepreneurship After 40′.
Merkel is the Co-founder and CEO of kluje.com, a Platform-as-a-Service company that aims to “revolutionise the way homeowners find better quality contractors”
The views are of the author, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them