Are you too old to be a successful entrepreneur?

- November 25, 2013 2 MIN READ

It’s easy to look around at the latest generation of young tech entrepreneurs, such as the founders of Facebook or Google, and wonder if those with a few more years under their belt are at a big disadvantage. But the truth is that in Australia and elsewhere, folks are getting older. In just a few years, the average age will be going up all throughout the world: Across Europe, it will be 45, and in Japan? 49! This is a big change!

Never fear: It’s possible to be innovative and creative well into your golden years, and older folks will have a huge amount to contribute in the next few decades. The key is to really look at some of the myths that have popped up around entrepreneurship and what makes it successful.

1. Younger Entrepreneurs Really Aren’t As Successful As Their Elders

Looking at the popular examples of massive success in the tech world, you might assume that plenty of young entrepreneurs are doing a fantastic job. Statistically speaking, though, younger business owners are much more likely to wash out than their elder counterparts. This is true in tech as well as many other fields. The average successful entrepreneur in technological industries is closer to 40 than 20, and there are countless stories of young entrepreneurs no one will ever hear about.

2. Many Aged Brains Think Quicker And Better

While many people are concerned about their cognitive performance as they age, there may be many good reasons for them to have hope. Recent research has shown that older brains can be much more effective than younger ones in integrating new information and developing a creative synthesis of information. In part, this might be because older people simply have more memories to draw on, so they have more “material” to generate innovative connections with. This can be a major advantage over people in their 20s and 30s.

3. Creativity Can Become A Habit

The more creative you are, the more creative you get. Wait, what? This might seem confusing, but let’s look at it another way: Creativity can become a habit of thought that your mind will be naturally acclimated to. If you are fully engaged in your business and its processes, you will find that you can naturally and easily think of new, innovative ways to improve: Even when you are not “trying” so hard. Lifestyle factors, especially engagement and interest in what we do every day, help keep the brain sharp and “young.”

4. You Can Build A Competitive Edge Well Into Your Fifties

While it’s often assumed that younger people are more competitive than their elders, science has shown this is not necessarily the case. In fact, effective, goal-oriented behaviour peaks during the 50s. Competitive risk-taking goes up in the older years as those highly experienced individuals have more perspective on the value of risks and which risks are worth taking versus those that might be poor choices. Remember: On average, Nobel Prize winners didn’t make their winning discovery until 39!