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The ideal age to start a business is the 40s and not mythical 20s

OPINION
By David Kabata | September 12th 2021

You have probably heard this cliché that startup creation is for the youth. If you believed it, you are most probably influenced by stories of tech giant founders such as Facebook’s Mark Zukerberg, Bill Gates of Microsoft and Apple’s Steve Jobs who launched successful businesses in their 20s.

These tech gurus may just be a group of outliers rather than the norm because despite their huge impact in influencing and motivating the millennial and the dotcom generation to start some unique enterprises, global research shows that the average age of launching successful business is not the 20s that but a middle age of 45 years.

Although starting your business at a youthful age may have its advantages such as time to try many things and recover from your failures and high affinity for risk due to less commitments, global statistics reveal that people who start in middle age have some merits that the younger founders may not have.

First, having worked in various organisations, older startup founders accumulate some important experience from these industries and knowledge of what works and what would not work in a given sector.

In addition, they are able to identify gaps in the organisation they are working in and, therefore, develop products that are problem-oriented and also customer driven.

For instance, an employee will identify that his or her organisation is not targeting a given segment of customers who are also interested in the services offered.

They can hence decide to venture into the market to satisfy that segment of neglected customers.

Second, it is said that your network is your net worth and older startup founders enjoy social capital in form of big networks that may be of great help during their fledgling days.

These networks may be in form of clients, suppliers, advisors and funders who they have added during many years of working in different firms.

The networks may play a pivotal role in helping the establishment of the business and its success. For instance, a supermarket attendant is able to use the supplier networks from his employer to start a mini market. Third, older startup founders enjoy easier availability of financial capital compared to younger founders. The capital may be inform of easier access to loans and funders due to their networks and other income-generating activities that may help them during the early stages of their startups.

Lastly, older startup founders have accumulated knowledge and skills that also play a vital role in entrepreneurial success.

Although some of the skills may be outdated or obsolete depending on the changes happening in the industries where they are working, all that is needed is reskilling to catch up.

The writer is an entrepreneurship lecturer at Kirinyaga University    

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