Starting-up at 40: What makes middle-age more conducive to business success

Ankit Kedia, Founder & Lead Investor, Capital A, lists a few factors that make starting up late an advantage.
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Almost all of us face that stage in our professional lives when entrepreneurship becomes a serious temptation. There are numerous stories out there of people who started from ‘scratch’ and built ‘empires.’ However, it is often said that there is a right age for everything including entrepreneurship.

Iconic names such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg took the entrepreneurial plunge right after or during college and never looked back. There is the conventional wisdom of ‘starting early’ as it is supposed to give people more time to make mistakes and learn from them. If that’s the right approach then do 40-plus entrepreneurs face a disadvantage compared to the youngsters who are eager to hustle and burn the midnight oil?

It’s time for a quick reality check.

A popular perception is that when you are in the 30s, 40s or even 50s, the right age to start has already passed by, and it is too late to even try. You might have children, parents, familial responsibilities, and many other things to take care of. But perceptions are not necessarily spot on, and definitely not in this case.

As per a recent study, the most successful business founders in America were more likely to be middle-aged than fresh college graduates, even in the technology sector. This is not a statement based on a rare handful of innovators, but a data-driven reality of 2.7 million company founders that the researchers had listed.

The average startup founder happened to be 45 years old across industries. In fact, a 50-year-old has nearly 2x more likelihood of success than someone at 30. Why this happens is due to a simple reason that at an early age, you might have great ideas, but it is the ability to execute that makes the real difference.

Midlife crisis is a well-known and widely used term. But as far as the world of business is concerned, it is usually more of a mid-life opportunity.

Here are two compelling reasons why 40 might just be the ideal time to start your new business:

Access to adequate human and financial resources

In business parlance, most people think of capital as funds. While funds are definitely the most essential resource to run any business venture, there is human capital which is an equally important factor in business operations. It is safe to say that these two go hand-in-hand.

When you are fresh out of college, you might have education and great ideas, but unless you are born into a business family, the necessary human and financial capital would take time to earn. As you go through the years of working in the industry you like, you learn things hands-on, make connections and earn money.

Eventually when in your early to mid-40s, you take the entrepreneurial plunge, you have the resources handy. Long-term cultivation of networks, and partnerships gives a person credibility and reputation, which makes launching a business simpler and smoother.

Experience and self-belief

The 20s are typically spent searching for one’s Ikigai. Yes, there are entrepreneurs like Zuckerberg who had a disruptive idea in Facebook and rapidly scaled to become one of the richest persons in the world with less than 20 years of operations. But he is an exception, not the benchmark.

Having spent nearly two decades in the professional world, the much-needed clarity about purpose and the expertise to use knowledge as needed, improves self-belief and the ability to control things more strategically. You don’t need time to make a mess because you already know how not to create one.

With age comes expertise, and the ability to take the right steps. The only mandatory thing for every entrepreneur whether in the 40s, 50s or even 60s is ample perseverance and self-belief.

Isaac Newton once said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Colonel Sanders aka Colonel Harland Sanders launched KFC when he was 62 years of age. Warren Buffet is known as the world’s most successful investor, but he made over 99.5 percent of his money only after crossing the age of 52.

Closer home, almost everyone is admiring the stunning rise of Nykaa after the brand’s highly successful IPO. However, not many people know that Nykaa was founded by Falguni Nayar, the former Managing Director of Kotak Mahindra. Falguni took the entrepreneurial call at 50 and has resolutely carved her way into the billionaire’s club.

Truth be told, if you are 40, and looking to take the entrepreneurial plunge, go ahead and do it. As long as you have passion and know what you are doing, age is definitely backing you up.

Edited by Anju Narayanan

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)