It’s Not Too Late to Start Your Business
Three advantages of middle-aged entrepreneurs
This week, I read that the fastest growing segment of people starting companies is those aged 45 to 54. That’s right. The fastest growing entrepreneurship age group is the middle agers. This is great news!
I meet a lot of women who want to start their own business but feel that it is too late. For women, this is especially tough because many have spent most of their lives juggling many responsibilities that involve taking care of others as a wife, mother, and employee. So, when they get to a point in life when they can start to dream for themselves, they can be intimidated by not just gender bias but also age bias.
As one woman said in the article, “It’s weird to go to a meetup and literally be the oldest person in the room. If you sit there and dwell on it, you feel like a total outsider. You feel like, ‘What the hell am I doing here’?”
I can sympathize with this woman. When Robert and I started the Rich Dad Company, we were in our middle ages. After the failure of Robert’s first business selling Velcro wallets, we had to climb out of over a million dollars in debt. We spent much of our early years learning about money and improving our personal finance skills. We invested in ourselves and our future, and then we launched another business. We weren’t the youngest or the boldest, but we were much wiser.
For both Robert and I, there were some distinct advantages to starting a business when we were a little older.
1. We learned to learn from failure
Fear of failure is one of the things that hold many people back from starting their own business. As you get older, you realize that you cannot avoid failure—we make mistakes! Instead, if you want to be successful, you learn to live with failure, to understand the lessons it teaches you, and to be that much better the next time. For most people, this is something that can be only learned with age. Most successful entrepreneurs and business owners will tell you that failure and the lessons they’ve learned from it has been a major factor in preparing for their present success.
2. We were more focused
When you’re younger the world is so wide open that it can sometimes be hard to know exactly what you want and to focus on going after it. This is not a bad thing, as many younger people have extreme amounts of energy and passion for multiple things and projects until they find something that sticks. But there is a distinct advantage to coming into your own, to knowing what you want and what you have to do to get it.
For Robert and I, this was the realization that we wanted to teach people about money. We had done a number of different ventures prior to that, but once we really discovered our passion, that is when we became most successful. We were more focused, and that focus equaled greater entrepreneurial accomplishment.
3. We were more comfortable with others and ourselves
Being a successful business owner takes great skill in selling, speaking, and leading others. These are skills that can only be developed over time, even if you have some amazing natural talent. Going back to learning from failures, one of the biggest things you learn is how to better sell, better speak, and better lead. Because you’ll make a lot of mistakes in those areas along the way!
This is not to say that young people can’t start and run great companies. Many do, and I hope more do! But the reality is that people in their middle ages and beyond do bring a unique perspective to the entrepreneurial table, and they can be just as successful as their younger counterparts. All you have to do is start.
To women who think their best days have sailed past them, I say, there is never a bad day to start realizing your dreams. It is never too late to be who you want to be and do what you want to do.