How to Bridge the Entrepreneurial Divide
This blog is dedicated to my 27-year-old son Zachary James Trask who is featured in the image for my blog. Zachary is an incredibly talented individual, he is extremely intelligent, very creative and above all else, he is the kindest, most compassionate person I have ever known. Zachary has a wisdom, spirit and vision that transcends all generations.
Speaking of generations, I strongly believe that being an entrepreneur in the 21st century is far more than just starting a business, it is an all-encompassing state of mind. I also believe that everyone has the capacity to dream big, be intellectually curious and solve problems. Not just small problems but big problems affecting our quality of life, our environment and civil discourse. We should all be concerned about how we can leave the world a better place.
A 2014 Statistics Canada survey estimated that 50 per cent of all entrepreneurs fall within the 50 to 64 age range. I am among that demographic as I launched my business at age 60. In my first year, I thought it was the worst idea I ever had and now in my third year, I think it is the best idea I've ever had.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was once quoted as saying “Young people are just smarter”. Zuckerberg's bias is not uncommon in Silicon Valley and other large tech sectors throughout the world. It's true that young people are tech-savvy, cognitively sharp, and not at as concerned about current industry paradigms. One only needs to think of the famous instances of the wildly successful 20-year-olds like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg himself. And because I am Canadian, we have incredibly gifted startup founders like 29-year-old Hilary Kilgour from Vancouver, 27-year-old Alice Park from Vancouver, and 26-year-old Afzal Habi from Toronto.
We have the technological tools and resources to address our current global challenges, but we very much need the minds and people who can build collective will for this change to happen. The complex global challenges we face require the brightest minds and teams we can find. What I personally find so exciting is that so many people in their 50’s and beyond are becoming a huge part of this collective.
People like sensational stories and the fact that a very young person can be very successful is not the norm, as shown in the various analysis which on its own might be why it attracts so much attention. On the other side of the spectrum, older entrepreneurs have had years to build their business, leadership and problem-solving skills, as well as to accumulate the social and financial capital needed to get a Startup off the ground. Even companies like Apple and Microsoft that were founded by exceptional young people didn't achieve their most rapid market capitalization growth until later when their founders were older. The iPhone entered the market when Steve Jobs was in his 50s.
Most people have higher or lower success averages throughout their lives, but whoever you are, your probability of hitting it out of the park is going to go up as you head toward middle age. I am of the opinion that an entrepreneur is an entrepreneur regardless of age. I also believe that we can benefit enormously by speaking, sharing and learning from each other.
If I can offer a little advice from my experience of starting a business in my 60’s it's this: Don't think too long on an idea or put it on the shelf. The clock is ticking. If you have a dream, make it happen, start today! You have less to lose when you're older. Let your dream make you happy and fulfilled for the rest of your life. Get over any ambivalence you have and don’t settle for mediocrity. You can do great things.
I like to think that I have gained a little wisdom from my 6 decades of living and all the things that I have learned in my various careers and leadership roles. I don't, however, think for a minute that my life and career experience gives me any greater edge over the many young entrepreneurs I have had the honour to meet, learn from, and work alongside in this industry. My son Zachary is one of the most positive influences in my life of a young person who is making a difference and his mark in the world.
“I am still learning this new journey myself and I am thriving more every day. If you are over 50 and thinking of starting a business, be sure that you are passionate about your idea. This is a time to enjoy the great adventure that you are about to embark upon. It is also a time to embrace and hire the young minds affluent in today’s and tomorrow’s technology.” If you are a young entrepreneur in start-up mode, keep going and never give up.
Jennifer Grant International offers to coach entrepreneurs of any age. Call us for a courtesy consultation and let’s get your dream business off the ground.