The 3rd Act: Entrepreneurship!

Key Takeaways

  • Experience, contacts and capital are keys to successful entrepreneurship at any age.
  • You’d be surprised at how many successful entrepreneurs are in their 40s, 50s and beyond.
  • Many top-flight entrepreneurs have gone through the “school of hard knocks” and make decisions based on lessons learned from those tough experiences.

*** Got a great story to share? Author a Book in 90 Days … popular workshops coming up. Space limited.

As many of you know, we hold a popular workshop, Author a Book in 90 Days, several times a year. It’s interesting because several of the 20-somethings I’ve spoken with tell me they don’t feel they have enough life experiences yet to write a nonfiction book.

There’s probably some truth to what they’re telling me. And that kind of came to mind for me when I started to look at successful entrepreneurs. We see billionaire Harvard dropouts like Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and think that you have to be 20 years old and drop out from a prestigious Ivy League university to make this huge organization, so all the creativity comes from these young people. Well, the statistics don’t bear that out.

2008 research on successful technology firms by Duke and Harvard universities looked at technology startups that were generating at least $1 million in revenue. Data showed that the average age of company founders was 39. Twice as many company founders were older than 50 as were younger than 25. And twice as many founders were older than 60 as were younger than 20. How come?

Younger people are believed to be more creative, energetic, open-minded and persistent with less to lose if they fail. But I find a lot of people over age 40 to be that way. Those are the kind of people, as entrepreneurs, that can make it for three important reasons:

  1. Experience
  2. Business and social networks
  3. Capital

Let’s take them one at a time.

  1. Experience. Older entrepreneurs have been around longer. They’ve gone through the “school of hard knocks.” They’re better able to make decisions based on lessons learned the hard way.
  2. Business and social networks. Older entrepreneurs have built up huge networks of people who can help them succeed–connections with the resources, capabilities and the other items they need as founders to launch their companies.
  3. Capital. They don’t have to go on the TV show “Shark Tank” to ask for money. They don’t need to resort to crowdfunding to get the capital and mentors they need. They have the capital in place to start their new ventures.

Many great entrepreneurs didn’t start their careers until after age 40, or have their real successes until later in life. Take Steve Jobs. Some of his biggest game changers–the iPad, iPod and iPhone, not to mention Pixar Animation–were all introduced in his middle-age years. We see that with other serial entrepreneurs too. Experience, networks and access to capital are big differentiators when you’re looking to launch successful businesses.


So, if you’ve got a powerful idea that has meaning and purpose for you, and you’re intrinsically motivated to pursue it, consider starting a company. Until next time. Enjoy!

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