Old age and the passage of time teach all things. ~ Sophocles ~
There is this notion that young techies (just out of college or about to be) are the wonder kids to have the brightest ideas to start business that can usher in the next best things no one had thought before.
Turns out, there is a flaw, a big flaw in that thinking.
Coming shortly to that, first, why the notion persists?
Well, to a large extent, it’s because of the now-dominating MAGA phenomenon or – if you prefer the recent past – the ‘Faangs’ phenomenon.
MAGA is the acronym for Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon. While, all the 4 plus ‘F’ for Facebook and ‘N’ for Netflix make up ‘Faangs’.
How Faangs has given way to MAGA since 2018 beginning is nicely elaborated here.
It’s undeniable that all these giant tech companies plus many more in the Silicon Valley were/are started by young people. When events like Apple touching trillion-dollar valuation happen, the notion emboldens by several times.
Which is that you better be young, in early 20s or thereabouts, to start business and succeed. If, unluckily, you’re past 20s or early 30s, well … better luck in the next birth.
Only, it’s NOT true.
For the old of you reading this post, the picture is actually dramatically different.
For your better.
A 60-year old is 3x successful than a 30-year old
That’s the startling finding of a 7-year study of 2.7 million company founders, done by the US Census Bureau, 2 MIT professors and a Kellogg School of Management professor, between 2007 and 2014.
They combined the tax-filling data, US Census information, and other federal datasets, which allowed them to analyse actual data of those many companies. That’s the strength of this study.
As Benjamin Jones, a professor of strategy at the Kellogg School, says,
… the beauty of administrative data is that it’s not a sample. It’s the actual universe of data.”
It’s tempting to think that as these data belong to the US companies, they may not be relevant for other countries like India.
In my belief, there is a good deal of truth in that supposing. The reason is NOT that old people in India lack entrepreneurial spirit like they have in the US, it’s rather that they have far less recourse to getting funds to start business than they do in the US.
I don’t have ready figures to support (my belief), but what I hear and read at different places, the lending agencies do NOT prioritize giving money to elders to start business.
Let’s see some figures
Coming back, in his wonderful roundup of important stats from the study (I just mentioned) by Jeff Haden, the following figures emerge:
- A 50-year-old startup founder is 2.2 times more likely to found a successful startup as a 30-year-old.
- A 40-year-old startup founder is 2.1 times more likely to found a successful startup as a 25-year-old.
- A 50-year-old startup founder is 2.8 times more likely to found a successful startup as a 25-year-old founder.
And, the best of them, if you ask me, is this one –
- A 60-year-old startup founder is 3 times as likely to found a successful startup as a 30-year-old startup founder–and is 1.7 times as likely to found a startup that winds up in the top 0.1 percent of all companies.
Jeff touches upon some interesting points as to why old people are more successful.
Experience, you’d say … but experience of what?
Here is what Jeff says on how experience counts –
It’s much harder to execute well when you have limited experience. It’s much harder to develop a sound strategy when you have limited experience. It’s much harder to make smart tactical decisions – especially when you need to make a number of decisions every day – when you have limited experience.
In other words, if you’re in your 40s and you want to start business, do it. If you’re in your 50s, do it.
And if you’re in your 60s?
By Jove, do it!!