Why You're Not Too Old to Launch a Startup
Experience matters. Or at least when it comes to startups. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) has released its latest annual global report, and found that 80 percent of total entrepreneurship activity in U.S. and Western Europe is conducted by those over 35.
As a post on Business Insider notes, such a finding flies in the face of the prevailing wisdom of the Facebook generation and its 20-something CEOs:
"If you're part of the baby boomer generation, and you've always dreamed about starting a business, remember that Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of America's young tech entrepreneurs are anomalies. You've got wisdom and experience on your side."
In accounting for the solid performance of those not fresh off the college campus, the GEM global report said the reasoning is twofold.
For one, credit must be given to the ability of those not born in the digital age to adapt to its ways.
"The 50-plus age group in many economies is now familiar with information and communication technologies, making home-based startups an interesting option for this group," the report notes.
But it's the wider cultural appreciation for long-term development that must be acknowleged, the GEM says:
"In these regions, individuals tend to spend a longer time period receiving their educations. In addition, with their high levels of education, they are more likely to work for established companies or in government jobs before becoming entrepreneurs. The United States/Western European region also had the highest percentage of the second oldest group (45 to 54 year olds), again demonstrating the popularity of entrepreneurship among a middle-age population."
And as Business Insider also points out, the report's findings are in keeping with another recent survey. For sectors that require high levels of expertise, and thus years of experience -- like aerospace, defense, health care and computers -- people over age 55 were twice as likely to be the ones launching startups. That was the conclusion of the Kauffman Foundation and its 2009 index of entrepreneurial activity in 549 startups.
The GEM Global report has been published annually since 1999. The 2010 report, which studied data from that year and 2009, surveyed 175,000 people in 59 economies.
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