Starting a business in your 40s sounds a bit crazy, but so does getting married at sixteen. I think back in my life, and I can honestly say that I have never been good at choosing the easy road.
Being a parent is not easy, but somehow we survived and thrived.
Now that our children are out on their own, I reflect upon the time of skinned knees, hiccups that won’t go away, and our first of the season trips to the lake. Time goes by so fast. As a young mom, I wanted them to believe in themselves.
My motherly message was consistent: You can do anything that you put your mind to.
Now I watch our adult children in action and think to myself, damn lady, you need to follow your own advice! I see these two amazing people are out there chasing their dreams. Their spirit is contagious as they’re not afraid to try something new.
As a mom in my forties, I cannot help but feel inspired by their energy to make a change. Now that our children are all grown up and have moved on to create their own lives, I feel a sense of accomplishment and peace.
I feel like I did my job!
It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform. – Roy T. Bennett
Entrepreneur startup in my forties – sounds intimidating
From leaving home at fourteen to teenage motherhood, you could say that I am not a stranger to challenges. I have always had a bit of the Geronimo way of thinking. I jump and then look around to see where I land.
Motherhood quieted that side of me. But something changed in me when I turned forty. That change was magnified by watching our children take on the world.
So now I ask myself, am I insane for wanting to walk away from this life to chase a dream of freedom? To see what else is out there in the world?
But the thing is, if I have lost my mind, I am not alone.
The US Census Bureau conducted a study along with two MIT professors who found that the ideal age of starting a business is actually in your 40s.
All evidence points to founders being especially successful when starting businesses in middle age or beyond, while young founders appear disadvantaged. Across the 2.7 million founders in the U.S. between 2007-2014 who started companies that go on to hire at least one employee, the mean age for the entrepreneurs at founding is 41.9. – Age and High-Growth Entrepreneurship
A few more cool stats about starting a new business later in life
Ideas are great, but execution is everything. The same is true with strategy: Strategy matters, but tactics–what you actually do–is what helps companies grow. – Jeff Haden
Kellogg Insight created a tool that utilizes the results of the 2.7 million founder study to calculate the likeliness of success of starting a business by age. Below are a few of the numbers I pulled from their “At What Age Are Entrepreneurs Likely to Find Success?” tool.
- 40-year-old startup founders are 1.5 times more likely to found a successful startup as a 33-year-old.
- 45-year-old startup founders are 2.0 times more likely to found a successful startup as a 33-year-old.
- 50-year-old startup founders are 2.1 times more likely to found a successful startup as a 33-year-old.
If the results shock you, then you are are not alone. These findings have turned the entrepreneurial world on its head. The reason that it is so astounding is that the heavy interest that the study put on the tech industry.
The result of this study showed that the average age of the founder at the time of startup of the fastest growing tech companies is 45 years old.
This study of 2.7 million founders went as far as to conclude that “the longer you’ve been around, the better your odds.”
Entrepreneurs who started their businesses after 40
Statistical information is one thing. But what about real-life examples of success in the midlife years? There are plenty of inspiring examples of success stories. Below are five stories of entrepreneurs who founded their companies later in life.
Harland Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken
At the age of 40, Harland Sanders started selling chicken dishes in a service station. A deadly shootout ensued following an advertising argument with a local competitor. At the age of 62, following the rejection of his “secret recipe” 1,009 times, Sanders sold his company for two million dollars.
I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. – Colonel Harland Sanders
Donald Fisher, co-founder of Gap
Donald Fisher, born in 1928 cofounded the Gap clothing store with his wife Doris in 1969. At 41 years of age, the Fisher’s opened their first store with the purpose of selling all of the sizes and colors of Levi’s in one place.
I always felt it took a little luck to get ahead, but it never occurred to me that the formula for success might necessarily involve both kinds of luck – good and bad. – Donald Fisher
Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart
With years of retail experience, Sam Walton opened his first Wal-Mart in 1962. Sam was 44 when he opened his first Wal-Mart. He was a visionary in the retail world as he saw the value of rural America.
There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else. – Sam Walton
Lynda Weinman, co-founder of Lynda.com
With a failed business behind her, Lynda Weinman co-founded the online software training website Lynda.com with her husband at the age of 40. Twenty years later, Lynda sold her company to LinkedIn for 1.5 billion dollars.
You are going to get through all the hardships and pain, but they are necessary to make you stronger and wiser. – Lynda Weinman
Bernard Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot
Following a firing from the Handy Dan Home Improvement Centers store in 1978, Bernard Marcus and a coworker name Arthur Blank founded the mega-chain Home Depot. At the age of 50, Bernard and Arthur convinced their friend Ken Langone to open a home improvement store. All three men are now billionaires.
What makes America great? Risk, preparation, hard work, and a young man’s willingness to shag carts from a parking lot because he has faith that he and his family can be great. – Bernard Marcus
Starting a business in your 40s
If you are thinking about starting a business and you are in your 40s, 50s, or even 60s, I say go for it! You have got the experience, the know-how, and the skills to deliver. Your age is on your side in this venture.
You have spent years believing in your kiddos, now is your time to believe in yourself.
Follow that advice because you too can do anything that you put your mind to. Now is the time to shout Geronimo once again and jump!