There’s No ‘Perfect’ Age For Success In Entrepreneurship
I run into aspiring entrepreneurs all the time, and when we start discussing the hurdles they face, the same barriers consistently come up. They say that they’re afraid they’re too young, too old, don’t have enough time, don’t have enough money, don’t know where to start, etc. The list goes on and on, mostly because you can always find just about any reason not to do something. Over time, though, I’ve come to learn that most of these objections are just excuses that get in the way of success. And the more often these excuses are legitimized, the more likely they are to prevent someone from doing great things.
Of those excuses, the one that never made sense to me is age. Age is just a number, and no matter how old you are, there is always opportunity to accomplish your goals and make the difference you want to make.
The Perks of Starting a Company When You’re Young
When I was younger, I was dumb and pretty egotistical. I may have lacked knowledge or experience in some areas, but one thing I had plenty of was extra time. Stay up all night to work on a project? Yep, I can do that. Book back-to-back trips out of town for various marketing conferences? I can do that, too. The kinds of decisions and sacrifices that seemed easy to make in my early 20s are harder to make now. Back then, I could pour all my time into projects with basically no questions asked. As I’ve gotten older and my priorities have changed, spending my time with my family has become very important to me, and an opportunity has to be extremely valuable to pull me away from that focus.
I recently ran into Brett Newman, who, together with his co-founder Ryan Blum, founded Study Abroad Apartments, a company that helps international students safely book verified housing options online. Rather than bragging about becoming a leading company in the industry, he talked about the bond that he and his colleagues formed in the early days when they were all in the trenches together building a company. He said he remembered ordering packages of ramen noodles to their New York City office to keep personal food expenses down while they were staying up all night to make sure students were arriving safely to the right destinations.
“Building a company at a younger age comes with its own set of challenges, but it is also the best time for you to live frugal and put in all of your energy,” Newman said. “I want this generation to realize that it is important to focus on what you love to do right now rather than what makes you the most money.” Today, an idea that all started with a group of young people in a dorm room looking for a solution to a problem they were facing has quickly grown into a company that’s helping people travel and connect with others all around the world.
There’s No Age Limit to Success
When I spoke at Collision, a large tech conference, I met a man named Ray who had worked hard to learn how to code. Ray was in his 60s and was currently coding a new project. His co-founders loved him and couldn’t speak more highly of him. When I asked about Ray, one of co-founders replied, “Oh, there’s not a day that goes by where we don’t learn something from his experience.”
There seems to be a belief that older people are so behind the times when it comes to trends in technology that younger generations have this huge advantage. In reality, younger generations generally lack the experience older generations have. Paired with the right skills, that experience can really help older aspiring entrepreneurs. Sure, people in older generations may not have grown up with the internet in their pocket, but that doesn’t mean they have no understanding of technology or other skills, experiences, and ideas. The best leaders and entrepreneurs I know are constantly challenging themselves to learn more and build new skills, and there’s no age limit on that.
So, there is no “perfect” age for entrepreneurship. It’s easy to let your age influence your decision on whether to pursue your goals, but as I said earlier, that’s usually just an excuse that keeps people from achieving amazing things. Anyone can come up with reasons not to take the leap, but if you want to achieve greatness, you’ve got to go for it — no matter how young or old you are.
John Hall is the CEO of Influence & Co., a keynote speaker, and the author of “Top of Mind.” You can book John to speak here.