You might see them featured on the covers of business magazines or in cutting-edge blogs. They might drive cooler cars or own larger businesses, and they might be 20 years younger than you. So what?
If you're in your 40s, there's no better time to follow your entrepreneurial dreams. Just because you were born in a different decade doesn't mean you're ready to be put out to pasture. Look at Harland Sanders, for example. He held various jobs throughout his life, but in 1955, at the age of 65, he decided to start developing his franchise restaurant: Kentucky Fried Chicken. To date, KFC has stores in more than 100 countries.
And Sanders isn't the only middle-aged entrepreneur. The Kauffman Foundation surveyed nearly 700 U.S.-born CEOs and heads of product development in engineering tech companies. Interestingly enough, twice as many U.S.-born tech entrepreneurs start ventures in their 50s as they do in their early 20s. Here are four reasons why you should consider starting a business in your 40s:
1. You've got a bigger network. When you're in your 40s, you've been around the block a few times. You've probably met all the movers and shakers in your city, and that's great! Now it's time to put that Rolodex to use.
When you're older than your bright-eyed, bushy-tailed competitors, you have more personal and professional connections to take advantage of. Aside from the connections you already have, you're decades ahead of the competition in terms of interpersonal skills. Take networking events, for example. You'll often see familiar faces at these gatherings--it's almost like you're all in a support group together.
2. You have more experience. Experience is a huge benefit when you're starting a business in your 40s. You know what you want, you have a focused mindset, and you've had time to narrow down your business objectives. Younger professionals, on the other hand, will often dive headfirst into something they're unfamiliar with.
Some young executives might label you "old school" or "conservative" because of your age, and they might even write you off as being behind the times. But you can use your age to bill yourself as someone who's much more levelheaded and knowledgeable than the average twentysomething.
3. You're familiar with responsibility. You've got a family, a mortgage, and a car loan. You can still do this. As the founder of a new business, it's your responsibility to be the hardest-working employee on staff. You have to be comfortable with stopping what you're doing to respond to your business's needs.
However, that's no different than fulfilling the obligations that come with a family. If your kid gets sick, you stay home and help him or her feel better. If your business takes a nosedive, you nurture it to make it thrive. Your familiarity with responsibility will pay dividends.
4. You have strength in numbers. Remember: You're not the only fortysomething who has opened a successful business. After graduating from Stanford University, Reid Hoffman spent years deciding what he wanted to do. In 2002, at age 35, he co-founded LinkedIn, which went public by the time he was 43.
It's the committed entrepreneurs like Jan Ihmels who cement the fact that it's never too late to start something new. He openly voices the struggles of being a 40-year-old divorced father of two who's in the midst of building his first startup. Although he's challenged in more ways than one, his demeanor is positive. He's the true reflection of a devoted entrepreneur, and you shouldn't sell yourself short, either. Middle-aged entrepreneurs have business savvy that twentysomethings envy. It's up to you to put it to good use.