In recent decades hot keywords like entrepreneur and startup have become pretty much synonymous with 20-something-year-olds founding their own firms. Impressive stories of people who were able to achieve huge success in very little time despite no prior professional experiences, like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have greatly contributed to this assumption, but research begs to differ.
Research: The best entrepreneurs tend to be middle-aged.— Daniel Pink (@DanielPink) June 25, 2018
- Among fastest-growing new tech companies, the average founder was 45 at the time of founding.
- A 50-year-old entrepreneur is nearly twice as likely to have a runaway success as a 30-year-old. https://t.co/nyimfn3w6x
Several research findings explain that older, more experienced entrepreneurs are a safer option for investors who wish to guarantee higher success rates for their new-emerging businesses.
In a 2019 study, researchers from the US Census Bureau and Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that the mean average age for people successfully establishing businesses is 41.9.
Research results also proved that most successful growth-oriented startups in the US are founded by middle-aged founders, ranging between the late 30s and late 40s.
The study further explains that even though businessmen known for success at early stages of their lives started their projects during their teens or twenties, most of them hadn't reach the pinnacle of their success until later in life. This was the case for Steve Jobs, for example, whose business only peaked when he was 48. The same is true for Bill Gates at 39, and Jeff Bezos at 45.
Young star innovators such as Gates, Jobs and Zuckerberg give a skewed impression. More successful entrepreneurs launch their businesses when they are middle-aged. https://t.co/kC90z7Ffwu pic.twitter.com/OB7jgBgf9X— Jolien Noels (@JolienNoels) July 8, 2018
Putting famous success stories aside, there still seems to be a theory that younger generations have a better understanding of technologies and that that somehow equates to better results. There's also an expectation that people in their twenties are expected to invest more time for work as they mostly aren’t as committed to family obligations and responsibilities as older people do.
But these assumptions seem to overlook other important factors, such as leadership traits that are typically acquired through years of day-to-day experiences, in addition to practical knowledge and expertise that business leaders build overtime by continuously learning about administration tactics and management strategies.
In the Middle East, examples of prominent businessmen come to support this argument.
Emirati billionaire businessman Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair graduated from California Polytechnic State University in the 1970s and worked in several companies for years to follow, before successfully becoming the CEO of Mashreq Bank in 1990 at the age of 36.
Another example is the Emirati billionaire businessman Majid Al Futtaim who first emerged in the business world as early as 1955, traveling to Tokyo to be the sponsor of Dodge, Toyota, and Honda in UAE.
Only in 1992 was Al Futtaim able to finally establish his giant shopping and retail group that helped rank him amongst the most wealthy businessmen in the region. In 2017, Forbes magazine reported that Al Futtaim was the second richest individual in the Middle East with about $10.9 billion.
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