Starting a Business in Canada

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Jan 4, 2020 - 2 minute read - entrepreneurship

How Old Is Too Old to Start a Business?

We’ve just entered into another New Year and it is a natural point for people to reflect on the year past and what lies ahead. If you have had starting a business on your mind for a few years now, you might be thinking, “Have I missed my window of opportunity for this?” “Is it too late to pursue my dream of starting a business?” Fortunately, the answer is no.

This illustration from Michelle Rial’s book, Am I Overthinking This?, demonstrates this wonderfully.

Is It Too Late to Start?

Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk has a very similar outlook.

Before you write this off as a couple of people just being overly optimistic, you should know that there is research that backs up the idea that businesses started by older entrepreneurs are more successful.

A research article in Harvard Business Review1 found that the average age of an entrepreneur when starting a business is 42. Even when filtering the data to analyze just the founders of software startups, the average age is 40. It seems that the young software startup founders are just the ones that you hear about the most.

The same study found that the top 0.1% of startups, based on their growth rates during their first 5 years of business, were started by people who were on average 45 years old. The authors state that:

“If you were faced with two entrepreneurs and knew nothing about them besides their age, you would do better, on average, betting on the older one.”

Why is this? Experience matters. Reading books and attending university classes are valuable but some things can only be learned through real world experience. Someone with 20 years of experience in an industry is going to have a very good foundation on which to start a business.

The idea that starting businesses is only for the young is simply a myth. If you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur, don’t let age stand in your way.

  1. Azoulay, P., B. Jones, J. D. Kin, and J. Miranda. “Research: The average age of a successful startup founder is 45.” Harvard Business Review (2018). ↩︎