The short answer to this is – no! Despite predominant Hollywood representations of business owners and entrepreneurs being young white males, this is not reflective of reality. Whether it’s branching out and learning something completely new by going back to school, or setting up a new business as an entrepreneur, the great news is there is no time limit on your potential. In life we are all subject to the rhetoric of getting things done while we are young, which of course works for some, but also has the implication that we won’t have the ability, passion, or interest to pursue our goals as we get older.
It wasn’t too late for these famous entrepreneurs
- Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, was a punk skater well into his mid-twenties and wasn’t appointed CEO of Twitter until he was 30. This was after having dropped out of New York University.
- Tim Westergren didn’t create Pandora until he was 35 years old, after having worked for 20 years in the record industry.
- Jan Koum created WhatsApp when he was 33, having worked for years in other jobs and having been rejected as an employee for Facebook.
- Jack Ma founded Alibaba when he was 35, having been rejected for 30 jobs and having received 10 rejections from Harvard.
- Sam Walton opened the first WalMart when he was 44, after having worked in jobs including management trainee at J.C Penny that paid $75 a month.
- Henry Ford created the Ford Motor Company when he was 40, the result of a lifelong interest in engineering that grew from rebuilding pocket watches.
- Bernie Marcus co-founded Home Depot at 50, after having been let go from his executive role at another home improvement chain.
- Ariana Huffington founded the Huffington Post aged 54, after having a lengthy presence in media and politics.
Many others could be added to this list to illustrate the fact that different people become successful at different times, and this is typically after years of hard work and many struggles. Don’t worry if you are older than other entrepreneurs and business owners and have not started your own business yet. You may have business and life experience that will stand in your favour.
You’re not behind anyone else
Whatever success looks like to you, you’re not behind everyone else. It’s easy to compare your own life’s timeline with other people’s, but this isn’t helpful or realistic. These real-world examples above, and there are thousands more searchable online, prove that it’s never too late to start a business. Sometimes it might feel as if we should be much further ahead in life by now, largely due to ageist social comparisons, but this kind of thinking can stop us from even trying. Your potential doesn’t decrease with age, so whether you’re still thinking about the elementary aspects of your business, or you’re almost ready to launch, the only person you’re racing against is yourself. Enjoy the pace that works for you, and don’t let societal pressure from mainstream media put you off starting your own business.
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