What’s AGE Got to Do With It?

A recent AARP article’s title makes the declarative statement: “Never Too Old to Start a Business.” The article centers around 52-year-old Christine Acosta who created a bike services company called Pedal Power Promoters in Tampa, Florida.  Acosta quit her job at American Express to take care of her father who was sick with diabetes. When she wanted to merge back into the job market, she didn’t have any luck, so she started her own business.  This is a common theme among Baby Boomers.

A Kauffman Foundation study showed that Baby Boomers are much more likely than Millennials to start a business. “The most recent Kauffman Index of Startup Activity showed the age 20-34 demographic group (0.22 percent) much below the rate for other age groups. (This rate means that 221 out of every 100,000 adults in this age group became entrepreneurs in a given month.). The same index reveals that the rate of new entrepreneurs ages 55-64 has increased from 0.34 percent in 1996 to 0.37 percent in 2014. (This rate means that 370 out of every 100,000 adults in this age group became entrepreneurs in a given month.)”

“Choose Yourself” author James Altucher compiled a list of people who experienced success after 50:

  • Ray Krok was a milkshake machine salesman and founded McDonald’s when he was 52.
  • Frank McCourt wrote Angela’s Ashes at age 66.
  • Julia Child was 50 when she wrote her first cookbook.
  • Jack Cover invented the Taser when he was 50, but didn’t sell a single one until he was 60.
  • Peter Roget, a retired physician wrote Roget’s Thesaurus when he was 73.
  • Charles Darwin wrote Origin of Species when he was 50.
  • Henry Ford invented the Model T which was a failure until he invented the assembly line…at 60.

A recent Forbes article  based on a Gallup study shows that “…Baby Boomers are twice as likely to want to start a business in the next year than Millennials. People over 50 represent one of the fastest-growing groups of entrepreneurs in the United States. Flush with decades of experience, network contacts, and financial stability, Baby Boomers have numerous advantages on their side for starting a business. They’re often in a better position to invest the money needed to get their business off the ground, and they are clear about who they are and what they want.”

Common Misconceptions About Starting a Business

There are many reasons why people hesitate to start a business, most of which are unfounded. First of all is the mistaken belief that you have to have a completely new idea, or that you have to be an experienced business person or have an MBA.  However, that’s just not the case. Studies by the Kauffman Foundation’s Entrepreneurial Learning Institute have shown that the entrepreneurial reality is this:

  • There is no new or breakthrough technology. Many times, it’s an improvement on an existing idea.
  • There has been little or no formal planning. The business or service evolves out of trial and error or arises from something already in existence.
  • There has been very little actual market research.
  • The business is started for under $10,000 and often comes from savings, loans or gift from family members, or credit cards.
  • The person starting the business has little formal experience. What is lacking in experience is made up with determination.
  • Very few businesses…well under 1%…are started with angel investment or even have a full-fledged business plan.

It’s easy to be intimidated by shows like “Shark Tank.”  However, with technology and with globalization making inexpensive resources available, anyone can have a business set up in no time. Check out Fiverr.com, for example,  just to see what can be done for  increments of $5.00…from logo design to website construction. You might even come up with some business ideas for yourself just by perusing the site. There are more ways to start a business than ever before….no matter how long you’ve been on this earth.

Are you or someone you know thinking about starting a business? What’s holding you back? What successes have you had? Share your comments below.

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5 thoughts on “What’s AGE Got to Do With It?

  • January 7, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Great reminder that age is no excuse… We have a lot of knowledge and shouldn’t be afraid to ‘think we can’. Thanks for sharing all this info Kathy!

    • January 8, 2017 at 5:43 pm

      Thanks for your wonderful observations, Anne!

    • January 9, 2017 at 8:15 am

      You’re right, Anne: we DO have a lot of knowledge and should share it!

  • May 29, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    64… Went In the army at 32 (and stayed 14 yrs, including 6 yr ‘stint’ with V.A., concurrently)… . Wondering where to go to get ‘tested’ to see where my ‘aptitudes’ lie, in my ‘senior’ years… . Would like to go back to school but where to get ‘funded’?

    • August 17, 2019 at 11:23 am

      I apologize for the delay, Steve. I have no knowledge about the military, but the first thing that comes up for me is to check in with the nearest V.A. office and see if they have any vocational or career testing available. Also, is there an “expiration date” in terms of veteran benefits paying for tuition? If you’ve already explored that avenue, what about a local community college? Could you approach them and see what they have available? You could also start by taking an inventory of your interests and previous jobs and see if you uncover anything that thrilled you at an earlier time in your life. I know someone who’d had a roof-cleaning business with his brother-in-law and after they sold it, he missed the work, being part of a team with a finite goal to be completed. He didn’t want to go back to climbing on roofs, but he started the business up again and hired people to do the actual roof cleaning. Just a few suggestions…


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