Contrary to popular belief, middle-aged entrepreneurs do better - Deepstash

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The Young And The Not So Young

The biographies of these tech billionaires who achieved great success in their twenties have helped cement the perception that entrepreneurship is a young person’s game.

Such stories are the exception rather than the norm. Starting young can have some clear advantages. For one thing, it gives you much more time to fail the several times most entrepreneurs do before they put it all together and succeed.

But overall, the research suggests, older age is associated with higher levels of entrepreneurial success.

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The Middle-Aged Entrepreneur

That’s an important policy point for governments that want people to keep working (and paying taxes) longer even though employment prospects for job seekers decline significantly from about the age of 45.

Rather than just putting money into “job-ready” programs or subsidies to employers to hire older workers, more should be invested into programs to support the demographic with the best chance of successfully starting new businesses.

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Older Is Better

New research suggests mature-aged entrepreneurship – after the age of 50 – is growing faster than among any other age group in Australia.

Mature-aged entrepreneurs run about a third of all businesses that are less than three years old. (All up, mature-aged entrepreneurs have started about 380,000 businesses with a turnover of about A$12 billion a year.)

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The Youth Advantage Vs Mature-Aged Advantage.

Younger entrepreneurs do have some advantages. As a group, they are healthier and tend to have fewer family obligations. They may be less risk-averse, often because they have less to lose. They may also benefit from others’ positive perceptions of them as “youthful”.

But mature-aged entrepreneurs have three key advantages: human capital, social capital, and financial capital.

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The Research Findings

Older entrepreneurs have accumulated business and life experience, knowledge and skills, social networks, and resources that better equip them for success. They tend to have better social skills and are better able to regulate their emotions, than those younger.

They do have a lower risk tolerance than younger entrepreneurs, but that is offset by other factors, such as confidence in their abilities and experience. Their fear of failure is thus less than their younger counterparts.

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Experience Counts

All evidence points to founders being especially successful when starting businesses in middle age or beyond, while young founders appear disadvantaged”.

The “batting average” for creating successful firms rose dramatically with age. A 50-year-old founder was 1.8 times more likely to achieve “upper-tail growth” than a 30-year-old founder. Those in their early 20s had the lowest likelihood of success.

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Don't Look For A Job, Become An Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship may therefore be a viable alternative to mature-aged unemployment.

There is, however, compelling evidence that aspiring mature-aged entrepreneurs require specialized government support and incentives, both to start their businesses and grow their businesses.

Government initiatives such as the Entrepreneur’s Program (formerly the Entrepreneurship Infrastructure Program) and Entrepreneurs Facilitators, for example, could be better designed to account for the specific needs of mature-aged entrepreneurs.

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barbarakenne

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