Success Characteristics and “THE AGE FACTOR”

Word Count: 772
Est. Time to Read: 4 mins.

If you read Part 1 of “So, Just What Is…” in the January issue (also available on the GFB website,, you know some of my personal insights into this highly favored, rapidly growing, and often misunderstood mystic of “becoming an entrepreneur”.

The Who and the What

The earliest formation of an “entrepreneurial mindset” – for me and many – was living with a parent or parents who were “small-business people”, and seeing them struggle with all the ups and downs of building a business. Such “business builders” were not even referred to as entrepreneurs, since that term really did not take off until more recently. Now it seems many communities want to build economically by encouraging entrepreneurs with incentives, pathways to capital for start-up and growth, “incubators” and “accelerators”, etc. All welcomed in today’s business world, where the by-words “economic and business development” are paramount.

However, there are many misunderstandings about the pathway to being an entrepreneur. Check out Jeff Neuville’s THINK article in this month’s GFB Monthly, It All Starts Up Here”.

We accept that anyone can be an entrepreneur, but the presence of certain traits may determine eventual success or failure. Those possessing a curious nature, an idea-producing thought process, a “I can find a solution” mindset, a readiness to accept risk and personally invest in a venture, and preferring a life of boundless uncertainty all contribute to being an entrepreneur with a good chance of success.

In short, according to one entrepreneur recently interviewed by this writer, “I trust myself. I know I can do this. I prefer finding happiness in doing what I want and like to do. I don’t mind paying the price to build my life this way.”

Age and Entrepreneurial Success

You may have noticed that the traits listed above did not include the need to be of a certain age to “start a business” or be an entrepreneur. While age is not a factor of who can start an enterprise, you may find the following facts of interest:

According to a recent study by the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University…

However, another study by the Hewlett Packard Enterprise revealed that the average age at which 79% of teens EXPECT to be ready to lead or found their own company is…wait for it…29!

The same Northwestern study concluded: “Overall, we see that younger founders appear strongly disadvantaged in their tendency to produce the highest-growth companies. Below age 25, founders appear to do badly (or rarely do extremely well), but there is a sharp increase in performance at age 25. Between ages 25-35 performance seems fairly flat. However, starting after age 35, we see increased success probabilities, now outpacing the 25-year-olds. Another large surge in performance comes at age 46 and is sustained toward age 60.”

So, what is the lesson for young entrepreneurs? It is certainly NOT for them to stop dreaming big. Rather, they should be encouraged to dream strategically and for the long term. In the meantime, they can explore other avenues of sharpening their entrepreneurial skills, including low cost and low risk paths, being an “intrapreneur” within their own work environment, or learning by working in another entrepreneurial shop.

Overall, one should not approach being an entrepreneur with dreams of immediate riches or of being the next Zuckerberg, Gates, Jobs, or Musk. As Jeffrey A. Tucker wrote in an article for the American Institute for Economic Research, “We should stop lying to young people about commerce and tell them the truth…business is hard. Work is hard. Saving money is hard. Serving customers is hard. For some people just showing up is hard. These are all learned skills. The fun comes once you master them.”

Entrepreneurism is not for the faint of heart…but rather those with a heart of desire, independence, self-determination, love of an idea, and yet…realism.

Tony Jackson
Managing Director
GFB Connect, Inc.