Why it’s never too late to start a business

Remember, fortune favours the bold...

The maxim goes that youth is wasted on the young. And, if you’re sitting on a business idea a little later on in life thinking you’ve missed the boat for success, then that might feel particularly true.

However, history is filled with encouraging stories of remarkable late bloomers who made their fortunes with a little more of life already under their belt. Sure, Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook at 19, but Charles Flint launched IBM at 61 (and we certainly know which company we’d sooner have shares in today).

In fact, as people live longer and the business landscape (along with its possibilities) shift everyday, there is a strong argument to suggest that those who start businesses later in life have a better chance of reaching success. Studies have even shown that if you’re over 55 years old, you are twice as likely as your counterparts who are under 35 to launch a high-growth startup.

If you’re still not convinced, then allow us to encourage you with this reminder of the invaluable weapons you have in your arsenal, simply by the virtue of having spent a little longer on Earth.

1. You know that knowledge is power

This might sound simple, but the most obvious benefit of starting a business later in life is also the most undeniable: you now have years of life experience to pull from in your new venture.

Take the legendary fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, who opened her iconic punk clothing store, Sex, at the age of 34 — launching her first runway show at 41. For her, this later start was invaluable, as she explained to Interview Magazine:

You can change your mind quite radically, of course, but I expect the older you get, the less you change your mind, because your way of seeing things is more solid. Solid in a good sense, meaning that everything keeps connecting, and when you make a point, it’s got the basis of all that experience.”

2. You know what you're passionate about

Another point that might seem rather obvious, but many young entrepreneurs can come unstuck when faced with the issue of knowing that they want to start a business, without knowing exactly how they want to do it. And, there’s a strong argument to suggest that this all comes down to passion.

Serial entrepreneur and world-famous businessman Richard Branson has said that “passion is one of the most effective motivators when it comes to launching a business — and often one of the strongest predictors of whether an idea will lead to success.” Older entrepreneurs know what they do (and don’t) enjoy doing, so can tailor a new business to fit that.

(If you’re looking to read a little more on Richard Branson’s business success story, then take a read of our interview with him here).

3. You've failed before

Do a little research on anyone who’s accomplished anything and you’ll soon discover that they have failed. Often, multiple times. They just never let it stop them or define them.

And, if you’ve lived for any significant amount of time on Earth, and still feel as though you have a seriously good business idea within you, then the chances are that you are in the same boat.  

For another encouraging case study, Bill Marriott Jr., Chairman of Marriott International was well into his 80s when the company made their $13 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. In an interview with Forbes contributor Margie Warrell, he said, “it’s easy to rest on your laurels but you’ve got to continue risking failure. Failure may not be final, but nor is success.”

4. You know how to set and achieve goals

Goal-setting is an integral part of starting and running a business, and in our younger years, we don’t always have the right processes in place to make this a habitual practise. Chances are, if you’re a little further along in years, that you’re something of a seasoned goal-setter.

Your life experience will also help you remain objective as you consider different paths you can take to reach your goals so you can move forward in a more efficient, cost-effective and productive way.

You know more people

…Who in turn know more people. As the saying goes, it takes a village — and your existing connections will be invaluable as you get started on your exciting new venture.

Thanks to your existing experience in the business world, it’s likely that you already understand the importance of networking, and are able to ask for the introductions you know will be most useful to you. This can work to expand your network by double or even triple, giving you all of the resources you need to get started.

Further Reading