Some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs of all time founded companies in their teen years. Their stories have spread so far and wide that the average person now believes that most successful founders of companies are very young.
A recent study sheds light on the actual age of entrepreneurs to find out it over 40 years of age. That’s a far cry from the idea of the prodigy that popular culture loves to present.
Disruption Is Not Just for the Young
One of the most persistent ideas that make people think of young founders is the concept of disruptive technology. It is logical to assume that a young person would enter the arena with a much different approach to business and a new way of looking at things.
The Wharton study debunked that idea and most of the other popular misconceptions about entrepreneurs. Researchers used government-provided details to paint an accurate picture of the individuals who start businesses in the United States. Between 2007 and 2014, the average age for an entrepreneurial company founder was 42.
Entrepreneurs Skew Older Than Expected
Oddly enough, for tech firms, the age was slightly higher at 43. It turns out the idea of the whiz kid is based more on a few outsized success stories than on empirical data. The team found that many of these companies were small businesses that did not have international growth ambitions. They were not looking to disrupt industries shortly.
The researchers decided to go a bit further and sifted through data even at the most successful firms. They found the average age was still in the forties, so there was no confirmation that young people make the best startup founders.
Experience Trumps Youth for Entrepreneurship
The reason that the average age is older than expected is not surprising. Older people have much more experience running a business, so they’re more likely to want to branch out. The fact they are qualified also means they’ll be more likely to get startup funding. Younger entrepreneurs lack most of the necessary social capital to gain funds, and without a genuinely stunning idea, it’s tough for them to start.
It’s safe to say that the media enjoys portraying the considerable success of several individuals as if it were typical. However, tons of examples show that these future billionaires were anything but ordinary. It’s generally better-established people who venture out to attempt their hand at starting a business. It may take them many years working in a career before they decide they have a better way to do things.
Older professionals will also have more extensive networks to tap for capital. Financing is always a problem for a new business, but it’s even more critical for younger people who don’t have established credit. Without a proven track record, they may have a hard time getting backing. The bigger their ideas, the more capital they need to bring them to fruition. Older players may be looking to carve out niches rather than swinging for the fences.
Brandon Webb is a former U.S. Navy SEAL, Sniper, and finished his time in the Navy as the Naval Special Warfare Sniper Course Manager. A passionate Entrepreneur (SOFREP.com & Crateclub.us) and a New York Times bestselling author. He is a member of YPO New York City and, Harvard Business School OPM 56. Thank you from Brandon Webb for all of the readers out there!