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45: Average Age of Successful Founder

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Research: The Average Age of a Successful Startup Founder Is 45
(According to the Harvard Business Review)

I know there are a lot of younger folks on here who see the success of some of their younger peers and lament that they themselves will never make it.

Don't dispair! Keep plugging away. Achieving success before your 40's is actually extraordinary, not the norm, and you shouldn't compare yourself to those who are. Keep following the process, and keep your head up!

(And for folks who are older than 45, remember that by definition 50% of successful startup founders are older than 45 when they hit paydirt.)
 

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ZF Lee

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Ah, statistics. This study got its limitations in coverage as well.
A quote from the article:

"Among the top 0.1% of startups based on growth in their first five years, we find that the founders started their companies, on average, when they were 45 years old. These highest-performing firms were identified based on employment growth. The age finding is similar using firms with the fastest sales growth instead, and founder age is similarly high for those startups that successfully exit through an IPO or acquisition. In other words, when you look at most successful firms, the average founder age goes up, not down. Overall, the empirical evidence shows that successful entrepreneurs tend to be middle-aged, not young."

1. You don't need to be the Top No. 1 company in the world to be rich or escape the SCRIPT monetarily. There are plenty of business folks who aren't the very zenith of the top, but they enjoy the life we all aspire to. That's the beauty of entrepreneurship.

2. Employment growth is just one sore metric. There's lots of other arguably better metrics like revenue and turnover, but I guess for one study, you can't have the readers glazing over at too many figures and cut-off metrics.

And on similarity with firms having sales growth, how similar? Didn't mention, so we won't know.

Objectively, I think that it depends on the power of choice as well, in the end. The average 45-year old can either choose to park his a$$ in front of the TV or go out to do something useful. We have the same choice as well.
 
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PizzaOnTheRoof

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Ah, statistics. This study got its limitations in coverage as well.
A quote from the article:

"Among the top 0.1% of startups based on growth in their first five years, we find that the founders started their companies, on average, when they were 45 years old. These highest-performing firms were identified based on employment growth. The age finding is similar using firms with the fastest sales growth instead, and founder age is similarly high for those startups that successfully exit through an IPO or acquisition. In other words, when you look at most successful firms, the average founder age goes up, not down. Overall, the empirical evidence shows that successful entrepreneurs tend to be middle-aged, not young."

1. You don't need to be the Top No. 1 company in the world to be rich or escape the SCRIPT monetarily. There are plenty of business folks who aren't the very zenith of the top, but they enjoy the life we all aspire to. That's the beauty of entrepreneurship.

2. Employment growth is just one sore metric. There's lots of other arguably better metrics like revenue and turnover, but I guess for one study, you can't have the readers glazing over at too many figures and cut-off metrics.

And on similarity with firms having sales growth, how similar? Didn't mention, so we won't know.

Objectively, I think that it depends on the power of choice as well, in the end. The average 45-year old can either choose to park his a$$ in front of the TV or go out to do something useful. We have the same choice as well.
I agree. Employment growth is such an arbitrary measurement. Hell, I'm pretty sure Stripe was valued at billions before they had more than 100 employees.
Good points @ZF Lee . Lies, damn lies, and statisitcs!

Here is another survey that coorborates the HBR study: It takes the typical self-made millionaire at least 32 years to get rich

What I like about these and other similar studies/surveys is that it makes me (a 30-something who has tried a failed a bunch charge of times) hopeful and help me reframe my experience.
It's the same thing again as your original post.

They never really define "wealthy" or say HOW these people became wealthy.

TMF is designed to give you FREEDOM, not just money, which can be achieved well before your 40's.

To me, that's true wealth...
 
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I agree. Employment growth is such an arbitrary measurement. Hell, I'm pretty sure Stripe was valued at billions before they had more than 100 employees.

It's the same thing again as your original post.

They never really define "wealthy" or say HOW these people became wealthy.

TMF is designed to give you FREEDOM, not just money, which can be achieved well before your 40's.

To me, that's true wealth...
All surveys of these types have their limitations. I was simply trying to give hope to people who look around a place like this and go "if I don't make it by 30, I'll never make it." In my opinion, there is a sub-demographic of people here who are past 30, married, have kids, mortgages, student loans, etc. who often become discouraged when comparing themselves to younger, perhaps more successful entrepreneurs, whether solopreneures or founders of larger businesses.

I think most people are surprised to learn that, regardless of how you measure it (employee count being one flawed way), there is evidence to suggest that self-made success comes much later than the common media narratives might have you believe. However, I wasn't suggesting that everyone has to emulate a VC-backed, high-employee count business to achieve financial freedom. To the contrary, as we have seen here on this forum numerous times, those traditional measures of "business success" are often deeply flawed; one can run what would be considered a microbusiness yet hit all the CENTS marks and allow their founder to achieve freedom.
 
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Get Right

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If you really want to test this theory then look around you. List the people in your area that you presume to be millionaires. Now write down the approx. age they made it. Average it out like the article above and it's pretty close.

My local self-made millionaire friends (age when they made the $):
0-40 years old: 0%
40+ years old: 100%

So yes, you have time but...you have to use that time to gain the mindset, knowledge, skills and experience to get there. That's why we are all here. We are doing the work necessary to give us a chance to do some really special things.
 

lewj24

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I feel like 45 may seem old for this statistic but it makes sense. I mean for the first 20 years of life you (pretty much) don't even count when it comes to this.

So they are really only looking at people aged 20 to 80 (life expectancy). 50 is right in the middle of those two numbers. Making 45 almost exactly average.

Fastlaners come in all ages. So on average 45 makes sense.
 

Pete799p

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Makes total sense, more time on earth is more opportunity to hone your craft, build capital, and the right network etc. so you'd have more/better tools at your disposal while still young enough to have energy/desire to take the risk & grind it out.

Also imagine many founders in this group of "fastest" growing companies are not on their first venture. I think most would agree in hindsight there are things you would have done differently/better to grow your business much faster.
 

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Blackadder

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NAPOLEON HILL THINK AND GROW RICH WHY MEN SELDOM SUCCEED BEFORE FORTY

I discovered, from the analysis of over 25,000 people, that men who succeed in an outstanding way, seldom do so before the age of forty, and more often they do not strike their real pace until they are well beyond the age of fifty. This fact was so astounding that it prompted me to go into the study of its cause most carefully, carrying the investigation over a period of more than twelve years. This study disclosed the fact that the major reason why the majority of men who succeed do not begin to do so before the age of forty to fifty, is their tendency to DISSIPATE their energies through over indulgence in physical expression of the emotion of sex. The majority of men never learn that the urge of sex has other possibilities, which far transcend in importance, that of mere physical expression. The majority of those who make this discovery, do so after having wasted many years at a period when the sex energy is at its height, prior to the age of forty-five to fifty. This usually is followed by noteworthy achievement.



Blackadder’s note: I feel the Internet has allowed younger people to succeed earlier than 40 but only if they are driven and focused during their push.
 

The Abundant Man

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What's the margin of error?

There's always a margin of error when it comes to statistics.
 

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I mean for the first 20 years of life you (pretty much) don't even count when it comes to this
I agree, especially if you are the son of sidewalkers. In this stage of life you hardly have critical thinking and observation skills strong enough to steer you from the influencers that held rule over you for at least 18 years. If folks find themselves luckily enlightened as you and I, it usually takes until 35 to wiggle back out of the trap we built from all of the ignorance we collected.

So there's hope for me yet. I turn 37 this year, and I'm starting to feel my age.

Gentlemen, enjoy and make the most of your 20s.
X2, halfway to 74 myself!
 

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