Think you’re too old to strike out and start your own business? Think again. As long as you’ve got a good idea and the right attitude, age is no barrier to launching a successful company.
In fact, that extra experience you have could give you an advantage when you’re starting out as an entrepreneur. I may have set up my first business when I was 22, but during my career I’ve met many talented entrepreneurs who launched their companies much later in life.
Be prepared to step outside your comfort zone
The one thing you really need if you want to become an entrepreneur is the bravery to step outside your comfort zone and test yourself in a completely new situation.
There’s no denying this can be a big step, especially if you’re used to working for other people and following their lead. But if you’re passionate about your idea, you’ve done your homework and you’re prepared to put in the hard work and pick up new skills along the way, there’s no reason to let your date of birth stop you from following your dreams.
Rather than seeing your age as a problem, focus on the fact that you’ll have a wealth of skills and life experience to bring to bear in your new role.
Take a look around you
Sure, we all know about Zuckerberg and Musk and Chesky – the entrepreneurs who became incredibly successful at an incredibly young age. But there are just as many examples of successful business people who launched their own companies with a lot more mileage on their career clocks.
Finding out about these entrepreneurs and their stories could give you the inspiration you need to take the next step on your own journey to starting a company.
One of my favourite examples is the late Leo Goodwin. He worked as an accountant in America until the age of 50, when he saw a gap in the insurance market and launched the Government Employee’s Insurance Company (GEICO).
Working with his wife, he quickly grew the business and by the end of his first year, he had employed 12 people and was providing nearly 4,000 insurance policies. Now, GEICO has over 14 million policyholders and employs tens of thousands of workers.
Another inspirational story is that of Carol Gardner. At the age of 52 and newly divorced, she entered a competition to create a Christmas card featuring her dog Zelda. She won, and the positive response she got encouraged her to set up a greeting card company that she called Zelda Wisdom. A few years later, the business was valued at an impressive $50 million.
Wally Blume also arrived in the business world later in life. After a successful 20-year career in the dairy industry, he decided to open his own company in 1995. Called Denali Flavors, it specialises in creating and marketing innovative ice cream flavours. Its most popular product, Moose Tracks, makes around $80 million a year through licensing agreements.
Talented ‘older-preneurs’ like these show just how much can be achieved by going it alone and starting your own business – regardless of your age.
Chris Niarchos is a lifelong entrepreneur and founder of The Cobra Group of Companies, which specialises in incubating, developing and managing a portfolio of start-up enterprises and successful companies.