The Advantages Older Adults Bring To First-Time Entrepreneurship
Would-be entrepreneurs of all ages come to me for advice about whether they should start a business and what it takes to succeed. They range from the students in my entrepreneurship classes at Princeton, through men and women at midlife looking for a change, to soon-to-be retirees who aren’t yet ready for nonstop golf. They make for quite a study in contrasts: the young brimming with self-confidence, energy and sometimes naiveté; the older adults projecting experience, prudence, and sometimes self-doubt about their ability to keep up with the twenty-somethings they read about in the business press.
The young often need a strong dose of realism: The Silicon Valley model of explosive growth fueled by venture capital applies to less than 1% of entrepreneurs; brilliant ideas count for less than the ability to make customers happy enough to part with their money, and a willingness to take big risks often leads to disaster.
Older would-be first-timers need a dose of realism, too, but of a different kind. They are less likely to be mistaken about external factors like financing, customer expectations and risk-taking than they are about themselves—failing to see the many advantages they bring to entrepreneurship. If you’re an older adult contemplating entrepreneurship, take heart. You likely enjoy some or all of the following advantages…