The convention wisdom is that starting your own business as an older adult is next to impossible. If you ask the average person why it is hard to start a business after 50, they will give you a litany of reasons, most of which will be based on tired aging stereotypes. Here are a few examples:
“Older adults don’t have the energy or stamina to compete.”
“It’s impossible to get funding for your idea as an older adult.”
“New ideas are easier to come up with when you’re younger.”
“Retirement should be about taking it easy, not working harder than ever.”
“Look at all of the famous entrepreneurs. They’re geeks in their teens and 20s.”
These are just a few of the comments that I have received when I ask people about whether it is possible for older adults to succeed as entrepreneurs.
If you have been following Sixty and Me for a while, you can probably guess my response to these statements. They are complete and utter nonsense. It gets me so angry to think about the fact that older adults are held back by tired stereotypes and perceptions that are driven by a youth-obsessed media.
The truth is that study after study have shown that older entrepreneurs are actually MORE successful than their younger counterparts. As I wrote in a previous article, when you consider the experience, empathy, contacts and financial resources that older adults have, it’s no wonder that, on average, they perform better than entrepreneurs in their 20s.
This raises an interesting question. If older entrepreneurs are so successful, why do last century’s age-based stereotypes continue to persist?
Part of the reason, in my opinion, is that the media loves to cover younger entrepreneurs. Society loves to hear stories about brilliant teenagers, locked in their basements, creating the next Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat.
It’s simply not sexy to write about 61-year-old Bob Smith, from Spokane, Washington, who quit his job as an accountant to create a new personal finance app or website.
All this takes me back to my original purpose for writing this article. I want to hear from all of the entrepreneurs and small business owners in our community. I would love us all to share examples of the businesses that we have started in our 50s, 60s and beyond.
Together, we can fight back against aging stereotypes and give hope to the many potential entrepreneurs who aren’t sure whether they are “too old” to start a business.
Now, I’d love to hear from you!
Have you started a business in your 50s or older? What did you learn from starting your own business? What advice would you give to someone who is on the fence about starting his or her own business? Please join the conversation.