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Thread: The Average Age of a Successful Startup Founder Is 45

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    Default The Average Age of a Successful Startup Founder Is 45

    A good read if you need a little dose of reality about the most successful demographic.

    Our team analyzed the age of all business founders in the U.S. in recent years by leveraging confidential administrative data sets from the U.S. Census Bureau. We found that the average age of entrepreneurs at the time they founded their companies is 42. But the vast majority of these new businesses are likely small businesses with no intentions to grow large (for example, dry cleaners and restaurants). To focus on businesses that are closer in spirit to the prototypical high-tech startup, we used a variety of indicators: whether the firm was granted a patent, received VC investment, or operated in an industry that employs a high fraction of STEM workers.
    Among the top 0.1% of startups based on growth in their first five years, we find that the founders started their companies, on average, when they were 45 years old. These highest-performing firms were identified based on employment growth. The age finding is similar using firms with the fastest sales growth instead, and founder age is similarly high for those startups that successfully exit through an IPO or acquisition. In other words, when you look at most successful firms, the average founder age goes up, not down. Overall, the empirical evidence shows that successful entrepreneurs tend to be middle-aged, not young.
    Source: https://hbr.org/2018/07/research-the...-founder-is-45

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    I'm not surprised by this. We hear about the very young "whiz kids" that hit it big but I believe they are a tiny percentage.

    Although I have had an entrepreneurial attitude since I was a kid, and tried many things, I have to say I didn't really have success until just about that magic age of 45.

    It would be interesting to know how many in that study had tried and failed prior to their success.

    Unless you are particularly brilliant or lucky youthful enthusiasm is not enough. Experience is the key, I think most will agree.


    I remember two bits of advice I recived from different people. One when I was very young and impatient and frustrated by the tedious path for advancement in the business world. I was told "in business you are not born until you are 40". That annoyed me but it wasn't until I was 40 that I realized what he meant!

    The more relevant advice I received from a very successful person was " It's more important to know what NOT to do, than to know what to do". In other words, you need experience to avoid mistakes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul View Post
    The more relevant advice I received from a very successful person was " It's more important to know what NOT to do, than to know what to do". In other words, you need experience to avoid mistakes.
    I've been living by this since forever. I say it to people all the time when they ask "How did you learn how to do this stuff, or how did you start your business". My answer is always that I pretty much learned what NOT to do. Learn from the mistakes of others, and don't do what they did.

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    Exactly. A business can appear simple and straightforward until you have to start navigating unforeseen obstacles. That is when experience and maturity kicks in. Most younger new entrepreneurs just can't forsee problems or know how to handle. One of my bits of advice to young entrepreneurs with a good idea is "find an old guy (or woman) with experience" to help.


    When I was young I thought every idea I had was a slam dunk! Now I know there is no such thing.

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    Same here. And it's because I was only thinking about how to make money, and not how to build something of value that I could do to make a living, and that people will pay for so that I could grow it.

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