It’s never too late (or too early) to become an entrepreneur

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This article has been translated from our English edition.

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It’s never too late (or too early) to become an entrepreneur
It’s never too late (or too early) to become an entrepreneur

Think about what the stereotypical entrepreneur looks like. Can you see it clearly He is 20 years old. He’s a technician. He’s drinking a Red Bull in a hoodie. And yes, it is definitely a he. If you don’t fit into that Silicon Valley box, introducing yourself as an entrepreneur can be difficult … even if you did a great job.

But here’s the thing: Research shows that the stereotypical entrepreneur I just described is NOT your average entrepreneur. Or even the most successful entrepreneur.

According to the results of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the average entrepreneur is 40 years old and the average age of executives in high-growth startups is 45 years.

That’s right, not only can you start a business at any age, age is actually a predictor of business success.

Now that it is easier than ever to start a business and become a single entrepreneur, it’s time to change the conversation about who can be an entrepreneur and what it really means.

The rise of the entrepreneur in 2021

We’re on a massive wave of people making the leap to become their own boss. The Wall Street Journal reported that Americans are starting new businesses at the fastest rate in more than a decade and are choosing to become sole proprietors in increasing numbers. Statista estimates that 86.5 million people will work as by 2027 freelancer in the United States, an astonishing 50.9% of the total American workforce.

And they didn’t let the global pandemic get in the way either. Data from the Census Bureau shows that new business applications skyrocketed in the first three quarters of 2020, from 3.2 million compared to 2.7 million in 2019.

With millions already working for themselves and another ten million aiming at it over the next five years, it is clear that the way we work and which companies we start are changing around the world.

We no longer live in a world where your business opportunities depend on where you live. The formula for success has changed. It’s a digital world and there’s no going back.

ship improves with age

Not only is it easier than ever to start your own business with just one computer and WiFi, but more and more people are looking for flexibility, freedom and control over their time. We all want a job that inspires our passion and gives life a meaning.

And no matter who you are, where you come from or what age, entrepreneurship is for anyone who wants to join the movement and has the courage to try.

It turns out that’s a lot of people. The Kauffman Foundation reports that half of all adults and more than 70% of students say they want to become entrepreneurs.

Image: Morsa Images | Getty Images

That’s a lot of young people, but as research and countless examples have shown, this is not just a game for young people. Many people started businesses in their later years and many have been incredibly successful. Here are just a few you may have heard of:

Chip Wilson

You may not know Chip Wilson’s name, but you probably do know Lululemon. He founded the multi-million dollar company leisure (mixed clothing type) at the age of 42 years.

Sam Walton

Founded at the age of 44, Sam Walton eventually made him the world’s largest private employer and one of the richest men in America. This firm? Walmart.

My father

At the age of 72, my father started a new business building climate-neutral houses. He is a lifelong entrepreneur who has started all kinds of businesses, but even after all these years he is still full of energy to start something new.

Of course, it’s not too early to become an entrepreneur either. My 9 year old niece currently runs a dog treatment shop in her neighborhood, and that’s not even the first business she’s started. She says her current company combines two of her greatest passions: talking to people and helping animals.

What it really means to be an entrepreneur

The image that occurs to many people when they think of an entrepreneur is someone like Steve Jobs beginning Manzana with his friend Steve Wozniak in his parents’ garage when he was in his early 20s. Of course, they built something very successful from nothing, but that’s just a story that makes up 1% of entrepreneurs.

In my opinion, entrepreneurs define themselves by their actions, not by their intention or whether they can be traded on the stock exchange. This includes start-up and small business owners, freelancers, contract workers, gig workers, side scammers and anyone else who takes risks to make their dreams come true.

You can (and should!) Consider yourself an entrepreneur if you can say YES! to one of these three basic business concepts:

  1. I run a business. It can be a company of any size and at any stage of development as long as the “brainstorming” phase has passed.
  2. I am taking a risk. You could be risking your money, resources, reputation, time, or all of the above. But it’s a risk that you believe in.
  3. I’m making money or I’m on my way. Money doesn’t have to be the main reason you do what you do, but if you don’t intend to make a profit then you have a hobby, not a business.

If you make money from your Etsy shop, you are an entrepreneur. You may be a part-time worker who also has a day job but an entrepreneur nonetheless!

If you are building an application that has not yet generated any revenue but want to profitably market it to customers, you are an entrepreneur.

And if you’re a technician in your twenties who just opened a business in your garage, then you’re an entrepreneur too!

It’s time to rethink our business stereotypes. Innovation and inspiration can come at any age, whether you are 9, 72 or any other age. The most important thing is the desire to start something of your own and the belief that it is possible. It’s never too late (or too early) to start.

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