What do you think the optimal age is to start a new business? How old should you be when you set up a startup company? Famously young entrepreneurs tend to dominate the narrative - which might make you think that if you have hit 30, you’re already too late to be successful.
And whilst there are definite advantages in youth, when it comes to the hard work, stress and creative challenge of starting a business - some more mature business founders also prove that age is only a number, and starting an enterprise later in life is not necessarily a bad thing.
35 is the magic number
Whilst Mark Zuckerberg famously started Facebook from a college dorm aged only 19, the most common age to start a new successful business, is 35. This fact is calculated from the Forbes founders list - once all inherited business interests have been stripped out - and shows that the mid-thirties, when people may tend towards professional success tempered by personal introspection (a mid life crisis, anyone?) is a productive time for entrepreneurs.
This may be because individuals in their mid thirties have some experience and financial security behind them. They may have increased in confidence since their twenties, and certainly should have built a stronger network. Whatever the reason is, 35 might be old age in sports, but it’s a prime age in business.
Aged 35, William Procter founded the company that became Procter and Gamble. William Boeing started the Boeing aerospace company. Jimmy Wales set up Wikipedia at the ripe old age of 35, too. Jan Koum founded Whatsapp, and Michael Arrington started TechCrunch, both at the magic age of 35.
When you stretch the bracket to the 35-40 age group, even more household names fall into it, such as Reid Hoffman, who founded LinkedIn aged 36, or Hugo Boss who started his eponymous company at the age of 38.
And even older
Because life tends to come with a whole load of twists, turns and curve balls, there are also many famous and successful entrepreneurs who did not get started on the ventures we know them for until they were well past mid-life. This may be as a result of reevaluation, a great idea that came along late in the day, a crisis, or simply a career path that took several different turns.
Did you know, for example, that Coca Cola was invented by a 55 year old, MacDonalds founded by a 52 year old, or that Colonel Sanders was 65 when he set up KFC. At the age that others might be considering retiring, these icons were only just setting out.
If you’re in your teens or twenties now, you may be wondering what this means for you. Mainly, this means that it is never too late. Whatever your age right now, and whatever your onward ambitions, it is important to keep on pursing that goal.
Modern career paths are destined to take multiple turns, and feel like a roller coaster ride much of the time. When there is a possibility for change, don’t think that age is a barrier to looking at a new area, and don’t imagine that your career path is set - whether you’re in your twenties, your thirties, or even your fifties, there is still plenty of time to change!