Is 40 Too Old To Become An Entrepreneur?
Is 40 too old to become an entrepreneur?
This question,”Is 40 too old to become an entrepreneur?” originally appeared on Quora, the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights. Some questions on Quora stimulate responses and discussions that continue for years.
Answers by Chris Rigoudis, Salar Salahshoor, Jeanine Joy, Galvin Widjaja, Rizwan Aseem, Lawrence Tam, Vanessa Ash, Adrian Lee Magill, Roy Schwaben, Jahan Hakimi, Andrew Tomp, Charlene Burke, Károly Nyisztor, Matt Gray, and John Burdick.
Chris Rigoudis, Co-founder at CreativeDeux (2017-present)
Answered Jul 28
Yes. You are too old for this. Entrepreneurship isn’t just a game you can pick up anytime and leave whenever you feel like it, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently.
Come on now, is this really you? If you were meant to do it, wouldn’t you have done it already?
Give it up, old man. Find another job, know your place, go to church on Sundays, kiss your wife on Christmas days and chill till your life comes to its expected end.
Did that hurt?
I bet it did.
Do you know why?
Because you listened to another person’s opinion about you.
Why would the opinion of another person matter to you?
Why would you even care for it?
Do they know you better than yourself?
Do they know your drive, or lack of?
Do they know your attitude?
Do they know what you are made of?
It blows my mind that 90 percent of people do nothing with their lives yet they are entitled to give their opinion on how you should live yours.
Because we entitle them.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you ignore what everyone’s been telling you and dig deep down on what you would want to do.
Just remember: Not taking risks could be the riskiest thing you can do.
Don’t listen to me though, I’m just another guy.
Salar Salahshoor, Started 5 companies, sold 1, and working on two more now.
According to the Kauffman Foundation, 40 is the average age that “successful” entrepreneurs start their first business.
My advice: stop comparing yourself to outliers and billionaires that made it in their 20s. Realize that these people don’t represent the vast majority of successful businessmen. Focus on your first million and take it from there.
Jeanine Joy, I coach people about their careers and have had a successful career
Answered Jul 25
No. Many people who are older than 40 become successful entrepreneurs, including me.
Attend a local entrepreneur networking event and you’ll meet a lot of people who became entrepreneurs when they were much older than 40.
Don’t look for reasons to limit yourself. Look for reasons to give yourself the freedom to follow your dreams.
That being said, starting a business with two days notice is not the way to go. Unless you’re getting six months’ severance pay, get a job with the intention of starting a business on the side. There is a tremendous amount of work (depending on the business you are establishing). Setting up a legal entity is step No. 1 and that can take time and if you’re not familiar with the process, money. It takes some money either way because there are fees. You definitely want a separate legal entity to protect your home and other assets.
Make a business plan.
When a person is stressed they cannot think as well. Starting your business after being laid off unexpectedly means you will probably feel highly stressed. It is better to begin when you aren’t dependent upon the income. Use income generated while you are doing it part-time to build a nest egg to carry you forward when you do jump in with both feet.
Talk to SCORE and the Small Business Administration. Take classes and learn as much as you can before you take the leap. One thing I often notice with people who don’t like the way a company is run is that they don’t understand WHY decisions are made. I don’t know if this fits your scenario. When they don’t understand WHY it is because they don’t have a good understanding of the different factors that must be taken into consideration to make a business decision. That is critical knowledge if you want to start a successful company. Make sure you have the background information you need.
Galvin Widjaja, Tech entrepreneur, Small business owner and bank employee simultaneously
Answered Aug 18, 2014
I’ve come from a family of entrepreneurs and because of that, I’m stupid about the risks of failure in business.
That said, more so than for a younger person, you have the skills to be a great success in business. Paradoxically, you should probably go slower. My advice will come from the framework to startup a consulting company, in my limited understanding the digital media business model is similar.
My advice is to do this in stages.
2 days is not enough – Go back. Get a new job, make it client facing and preferably in a large and high end company. These will become your future customers, the company is your branding by association. The size is why they will soon prefer to go with you as an individual.
0 months to 1 year. The entire timeline will be spent quitting properly, that is, in such a way as that you have projects scoped that you can do individually, better and probably cheaper than with the brand. As I’m sure you know, you can hold on to jobs that the previous company gained because of its strong brand, you will probably never be able to compete with them.
6 months to 1.5 years. Business model setup. Small startup or jump to a young company as the big fish. Partner levels move into their own businesses much more easily and it eases the transition. During this time build your personal pipeline and find resources to start your own business. Outsourcing never looked so attractive.
1.5 – 4 years. Contracting, or contracting with outsourcing (for maintenance contracts). This is when your pipeline is too small to have a local team
4 years –>. Business owner. This is it. Well done.
Remember, you can stop at any stage. Hit point 3 and you’ve essentially succeeded (at least partially.) At every level a greater percentage of your salary depends on your own performance.
You can do it. Your family is counting on you. Good Luck.
Rizwan Aseem, I help small business owners get more clients using direct response marketing.
Answered Aug 18, 2014
Col. Sanders of KFC was 65 when he launched his first franchise.
Reagan was 69 when he become president
Mandela became president when he was 76.
You’re 40. That’s like being 25 in front of these people. You have the rest of your life ahead of you. And statistically you will probably live to 80.
All of that being said, don’t sell the house or take money out of your IRA. Get another job for the next 6 months and put money aside from that job. As you are doing that job look for consulting clients on the side. Wake up an hour earlier, go to sleep an hour later. Hustle.
Lawrence Tam, foodie, internet marketer, mechanical engineer
Answered Aug 18, 2014
Listen to “Think and Grow Rich,” Napoleon Hill.
Napoleon Hill said most don’t reach their prime until their 40s-50s….
I personally would ALWAYS “make it happen” WHILE working a job..
I did… I built my 7-figure internet business WHILE working as a mechanical engineer (oil/gas services).
This allows me to better space and dedicate my time plus … when I retired from engineering I knew I could spend time with family and prioritize my time better.
Having 3 kids myself …. I would NOT sacrifice their college education, my retirement just because I didn’t want to get a job and build my business on the side.
Don’t give up hope… just get a better vehicle to get to your goals.
Vanessa Ash, Lawyer
There is ZERO job security out there as an employee. IMHO, there is far greater security in being your own boss where it’s a contractor in the “gig” economy or running your own business.
Start by starting.
If you don’t, you’ll probably regret it.
Adrian Lee Magill, President/Owner
Answered July 31.
I started my business when I was 44.
You are never too old, but why are you listening to other people’s opinions on what constitutes “too old?”
If you are going to be an entrepreneur you need to have a thick skin and stubborn attitude. You need to say to yourself that you are going to make this idea work, come hell or high water. It should not matter what others think.
I hope this helps.
Adrian Lee Magill.
Roy Schwaben, Businessman and prodigious reader, I have learned much- often from failure.
Answered Aug 18, 2014
40 is absolutely not too old…but that doesn’t mean you should make the jump just yet.
Should you start a business now? Judging by your question, I say not quite yet. Swallow your pride, get another job for now, deal with the soul-sucking BS, kiss your boss’s behind, and go home at night and work on your plan. Go to bed smiling, knowing it’s only a matter of time. Meanwhile save every penny you can. When you’re ready, you’ll be ready and you’ll know it, and you’ll stand a much higher chance of success.
Jahan Hakimi, Exited Fingi Inc, Former Banker Now CEO-Bid2Ride: (2015-present)
Answered Aug. 17, 2017
I have met with many many startups, and a lot of them have CEO’s and CTOs in their 20s. I was in a meeting recently where the SVP of sales was bragging about how their CEO was 27 and CTO 26, wow what a great thing that was. Well to be honest, I found the company had no strategy on how to grow and their scalability was very limited. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been very disappointed in these teams with 20-something-year-olds running multi-million dollar investments. Now ask yourself this question, why do so many VC investments fail? Because they are always depending on young, very inexperienced kids to get it to where they believe it can get to.
My personal experiences with 30–40-yea- old guys running startups has generally been more pleasant. They have the vision and experience on how to get a company to where it should go, how to avoid the pitfalls and what to do when a tough decision is needed. I always said to a close friend of mine who’s a major VC, one day we are going to open our own fund and concentrate it to teams in their 30s and up. So its never too late…
With all that being said, it’s a very tough decision to sell your home and start up a company. I am sure you have a few contacts in the industry you can call to get feelers to see if they are willing to send some if not all their business to your new venture. If you have some small accounts to get you started and you feel this is the right way to go, go the 401K route. Your home will take months to sell. By that time you probably have already run out of runway and will be looking for another job. Best of luck!!
Andrew Tomp, CEO at Ticket Shine, Inc. (2013-present)
Answered July 31, 2017
Ray Kroc was 52 years old when he began working with the McDonald brothers and franchising McDonald’s. You are never too old to start a successful company. I have read that older entrepreneurs are generally more successful than younger ones. Here’s the HBR article with more information on that: Entrepreneurs Get Better with Age.
Charlene Burke, Info Pro with the Need to Know
Answered Aug 21, 2014
Age isn’t the factor here. Fear is. I started my agency because of outside forces and am grateful they occurred, because otherwise I wouldn’t own a thriving research and marketing agency. Should have opened the door/hung my shingle 25 years ago. Fear stopped me.
My fear was based on unknowns:
I didn’t know how to fail. Truly, no one had walked me through the steps of failing, learning from the incident, then moving forward.
I didn’t know how to sell. I am shy and an introvert. My social skills were not good at all.
I didn’t know how to network. Again with the lack of social skills.
I didn’t know how to speak in public, successfully.
Once I took the plunge and opened the door/hung my shingle, I took steps to take care of the unknowns:
I found a few successful business women in town and joined them at networking events, invited them to coffee, asked one to be my mentor. She taught me how to approach failing as a possibility.
I connected with a ‘master connector’ in town and asked him to teach me how to network. Then I practiced by attending events and doing what he taught me.
I joined Toastmasters. Today I speak at national conferences, present to business groups, train small groups via webinar and in person and more.
Yes, there was a lot more stress than I have today. I survived, as did my husband.
Yes, the fear was still there, but I did what successful people told me to do in spite of the fear.
There’s more, but this covers the basics. Truly, I should have started my business 25 years ago. But that means nothing to my bank account.
Better to start now than to wait. Better to start now than to never start at all.
Károly Nyisztor, Entrepreneur at Leakka (2017-present)
Age doesn’t matter if you’re in good health. The question is whether you have the required motivation and the stamina. If you lack self-discipline and drive, rather stay at your 9-to-5 and do what others tell you.
I’m 45. Left the rat-race about 8 months ago.
Now I’m doing stuff that matters. Exclusively.
I organize my schedule as I want, and spend more time with my family than ever before.I’ve never been happier. Wish I made this decision earlier.
Matt Gray, studied Marketing at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (1981)
40 is just a good start. You’re young & you don’t know it. People start businesses as senior citizens for Pete’s sake. Take Col. Sanders of KFC, he started that in his 60s I believe. Just saw where they’re bringing the old boy back in their ads. I digress. You can do it if you believe you can and if you have a good plan and work the snot out of that plan. Do what you have to do to make it work. Your plan won’t work if you don’t. If you’ve been doing digital marketing for others you can do that for yourself from home. That’s a service many small businesses need help with. Now go out there & kick butt!
John Burdick, President (1999-present)
Answered Aug. 3, 2017
Don’t let age be the determining factor. I was 43 when I started a business after a career in banking. 18 years later this has been the best move I’ve made in my life even factoring in two major recessions. The first three years are the toughest and I also had a mortgage, family and not many resources other than good credit. I almost quit twice, both times at the heart of the recessions when you don’t know when things will turn around. Now I can retire anytime and have employees capable of running the company successfully with some guidance. By the way, I had no direct prior experience in this business when I purchased it from a retiree.
This question, “Is 40 too old to become an entrepreneur?” originally appeared on Quora, the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
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