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Does age give entrepreneurs an advantage?

On Behalf of | Oct 4, 2022 | Business Law

The American entrepreneurial spirit continues to thrive despite pandemic challenges or an inconsistent economy. There are more than two million small businesses in New York state, with that number fluctuating based on conditions. These businesses vary by industry, ambition and scale.

While every business is unique, data often reveal useful information that can be applied to any model. A recent analysis explores business ownership by age, including the founders’ age at the formation time.

While it is not surprising that older Americans (classified as Baby Boomers) own the majority of small businesses due to accumulated wealth over their longer lifetimes, the analysis also finds that businesses founded by older individuals have a greater rate of success.

What does the data say?

Specifically, the study notes that:

  • The largest age group of small business owners is in the age 50 to 59 range.
  • Entrepreneurs aged 55 to 64 own roughly one-quarter of new businesses.
  • Entrepreneurs aged 57 to 75 own almost half of all small businesses.
  • 60-year-old entrepreneurs are three times more likely to succeed than 30-year-old entrepreneurs.

While people often picture a Hollywood-esque young go-getter willing to work 24/7 to make their dream a reality, the study counters that experience is just as important as vigor.

Looking beyond the numbers

A closer look at this data involves speculation about age groups and their particular skill sets and experiences. The article linked above also includes several anecdotes that show a combination of reasons why older entrepreneurs may have a higher success rate.

Summarized, factors include:

  • Professional experience
  • Professional networks
  • Life experience
  • Flexibility

Not only does a 20- or 30-year career create invaluable experience, but workers meet new people and encounter new ideas continuously. This builds into a network of potential resources and colleagues for future endeavors.

Furthermore, experience presents new challenges. In turn, these new challenges may spawn new business ideas that fill a void in the market.

Flipping the script

The stereotype is that younger individuals are more flexible while older people are more set in their ways. This is untrue, as the data above illustrates. What matters for an entrepreneur of any age is that they have a good idea, a firm foundation and the resources required to meet their needs.

There is no single trick to building a successful business. But recognizing consistent patterns can help to improve success. In this example, age is cited as though it improves the odds. In truth, a businessperson of any age can acquire these traits and learn from experience. Even among these talking points, a simpler message is clear: any successful business requires careful planning, attention to detail and a strong support network.

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