Never Too Late To Start

A study of 2.7 Million Startups Found the Ideal Age To Start A Business (And It’s Much Older Than You Think)

INC Magazine originally published this article, written by Jeff Haden.

All Ages

If you’re in your 30s or 40s (or even 50s) and you believe conventional wisdom, you might think the entrepreneurial train has passed you by and it’s too late to start your own business.

Wrong: A recent study conducted by the Census Bureau and two MIT professors found the most successful entrepreneurs tend to be middle-aged–even in the tech sector. The researchers compiled a list of 2.7 million company founders who hired at least one employee between 2007 and 2014. The average startup founder was 45 years old when he or she founded the most successful tech companies.

And in general terms, a 50-year-old entrepreneur is almost twice as likely to start an extremely successful company as a 30-year-old. (Or, for that matter, a successful side hustle.)

Still not convinced? Check out these stats:

  • 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 if you want a really fun statistic:

  • 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.


There are plenty of reasons, but one key factor is the difference between ideas and execution.

Ideas are great, but execution is everything. The same is true with strategy: Strategy matters, but tactics–what you actually do–is what helps companies grow.

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.

Think of it this way: People love to say, “You need to know what you don’t know.” The only way to decrease the number of things you don’t know–and have a reasonable grasp of which things you do well, and which you don’t–is by gaining experience.

That’s especially true where leadership experience is concerned.

So, if you’re in your 40s and you want to start a business, do it. If you’re in your 50s, do it. If you’re in your 60s…do it.

Successful entrepreneurs don’t have some intangible entrepreneurial something–ideas, talent, drive, skills, creativity–that you don’t. Their success only seems inevitable in hindsight.

Every entrepreneur at some point looked in the mirror and said, “Lots of other people have succeeded…and so will I.”

Believe in yourself–especially if you’re willing to work hard and persevere.

Science proves that your experience, your skills, your connections, your expertise, and yes, your age, are on your side.

Start putting all that to work for you.

Not for someone else.


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