When building a company, practice makes perfect. Maturity helps you become successful and it’s something that grows over time. Yet, maturity and wisdom don’t just always come with age. Arguments would indicate that it’s better to start a company when you’re young.
When Beetroot was founded, I was a fresh graduate at the tender age of 24, already experienced in working on 3 startups. Almost every successful entrepreneur I’ve met ever since, somewhat resembled my story, undertaking their business efforts in their younger years. But that isn’t always the case. You might’ve heard of a classic example of Colonel Sanders, founder of KFC who became a successful entrepreneur at 62! But there’s plenty of reasons to persuade you into starting something new before you’re nearing retirement age.
Before we get into the whole “entrepreneurial discussion”, let’s take a look at the main alternative—employment. Employment gives you stability and an uninterrupted income. This may result in you starting to build a certain lifestyle and you’ll get used to having regular money. Simply put, you build your cost base.
There’s plenty of reasons to persuade you into starting something new before you’re nearing retirement age.
When we founded Beetroot, we were students, basically surviving off cheap student lunch deals and noodles. We never received big salaries before and had no friends driving Bentleys, inviting us over to play golf on the weekends. We also had no families to support and devote our time to. We had a small cost base. Sleeping on floors, traveling on third-class trains and earning very little wasn’t a new or tough challenge for us because of where we came from. Being an entrepreneur is hard—becoming an entrepreneur after you’ve felt the benefits of a higher class of lifestyle is even harder.
Inside every inventor and creator, there’s an entrepreneurial spirit. It pushes them over the edge and inspires them to take risks. And I think it’s hard to imagine a person with this passion, waiting until their late 50’s to give it a try.
Sometimes people justify their inaction, claiming they’re waiting for a good idea to hit the top of their heads. In the majority of cases, the day of their enlightenment never comes. My recommendation is to focus on what you actually do. The secret of getting things done is doing things. There is a lot of people who just talk. Don’t lie to yourself. If you’re happy with being an employee, don’t say that you’re going to begin a startup later. Those who really do something, they don’t talk, they don’t wait for something, they just act.
Now, let’s get back to Colonel Sanders. His example is often used to argue that it’s never too late to start something new. That is true, but it is also true that Colonel Sanders founded his first startup—a ferry boat company—when he was thirty. If you have a genuine passion for entrepreneurship, you won’t wait. Start doing something whenever you have a chance and see where it takes you.
New technologies and free platforms, like WordPress, make it easier for younger people to launch an online business with a relatively low starting capital. Courtesy of this new digital world, you can even go global without actually moving to another country or spending half of your life building a factory.
The secret of getting things done is doing things.
Living in a digital world also means that you have to remain mentally young. Modern technologies evolve fast, meaning you’ll need to keep learning new things each day. You’ll be competing with 20-year-olds & their thirst for technical knowledge. You need a curious mind, always ready to try something new.
I believe that in any case, the main argument for an early start is not age-related, but that you have a better ability to stay one hundred percent focused on what you do.
The older you get, the more your responsibilities grow, which also require a great deal of focus. Finances are distributed to family life & time is often limited. Becoming a more mature entrepreneur you’ll probably need to put the family life on the backburner for a short while, and also accept some financial compromises. Your time and attention will be crammed with work and potential prospects. It can be extremely time-consuming to start something new. For a determined person, it’s possible. But social and family pressures can make it feel like you’re paying a high price. Try to realize your ideas when the cost of going for it, all in, is relatively low.
One more thing to chalk up to youth is energy and adaptability, which often becomes more important than life experience. You’re full of motivation to do something great and what seems to be impossible to achieve in your 50’s is done at once when you’re young.
I believe that in the future entrepreneurs will keep starting young. Their greatest successes may be achieved in later years, but their initial attempts to create something will trace back to their youth.