Intriguing stats. Honestly can't say any shocked me. I would have guessed the median age would be younger.
Do wonder how many of the 69.9% who were married when they started their first, were still married (to the same person) when they started their second:)
Good one. I would be very interested to see the stats filtered to 'Tech Founders'.
Very interesting. Hope for us all! Would also add that the majority of entrepreneurs that raise funding from the VC community are well known to the investors before they raise money. We ran a VC panel last week and it was interesting to note that most of the advice about raising money focused not on business plans and the like but on how you can make sure an investor knows you before you ask for money. More at our VC fundraising cheat sheet post: http://thebln.com/2009/09/2009-fund-raising-cheat-sheet/
These are not 'facts about entrepreneurs'. That is a blanket statement covering all every single one of them. This "some" of the points that 549 (out of all of the entrepreneurs in the world) that you like.
That being said thanks for sharing the information. I've started 3 businesses and I fall into just a couple of those norms that you highlighted.
Regarding #11: I would say the inverse of this is more interesting, that about half of entrepreneurs do
come from families that have started companies. A random sampling of families would probably find that most have no startup history.
As I count it, this is 11 points.. #11 and #4 are duplicates..yes?
Great information. I will try to find a copy of the original study.
Great Stats, I am able to relate 90% to myself.
Interesting information. For me #2 was the most surpising, I expected many more entrepreneurs to have lower educational achievements. Perhaps a sign of our more information-led age.
I find it most surprising that fact 4 and 11 are the same :)
Most the facts make sense. I agree with Dharmesh, I would have assumed the median age would have been much younger. I wonder if they counted the age the first time they opened a business or every subsequent time also as this would skew the numbers. For example) Mr. Smith opened his first business when he was 25, but then another one when we was 40 and another when he was 55... did they count 25 only or 25, 40, and 55.
Also, 69.9 percent of respondents indicated they were married when they launched their first business kinda surprised me, I thought that more people would be taking risk when they had less to loose not more to lose or more-on-the-line.... that's very interesting from a behavioral standpoint.
I would say that list is a great profile of many of the entrepreneurs that I know personally. Now of course it is also a good profile of myself so maybe I just know lots of people like myself.
Nice facts. But as we all know Rules are supposed to be broken :)
Not surprising. Started mine in 1989 at age of 44. Worked for other companies for 20 years.Was a US.Army officer, Vietnam vet. Married, 2 boys. Had MBA, parents only HS grads. Came from middle class. First start up.
Great posting. I was just interviewed on a blog radio show called "Who you calling old?" which deals exactly with the subject of entrepreneurs who are 40 and over (at least this segment). I think many "older" entrepreneurs have the business background necessary to successfully start a company.
Thanks for the facts. Nothing shocking or surprising, though. Seems like an entrepreneur is just you average citizen.
Always entertaining to see pedants getting things wrong. Points #4 and #11 are different. Being first in your family to start a business is different to having a sibling who has.
Intresting Facts and details.
But I wouldnt want to wait till 40.
I think will try and get the facts wrong soon. ;-)
Great posting, fun to read, recognizable!
It would be interesting to see whether high impact growth entrepreneurs (Dr. Birch's gazelles) mirror or differ from these numbers...
I like the fact that most of them were over 40 when they took the plunge. So many people think they are too old to start something new. My father was exactly 40 when he started his business. You just have to go for it.
Quote - Patrick Allmond: This "some" of the points that 549 (out of all of the entrepreneurs in the world) that you like.
Assuming the selection of the entrepreneurs is statistically valid and that all 549 answered all the questions, the margin of error is 4%.
My experience is that the age misconception is totally true.
There is a certain selection bias in the tech Startup world centered on particular startup communities like Y-combinator or Techstars and other less formally identifiable startup "scenes" all over.
I love these guys but they cater to the 20 somethings and often overlap with the bar/social scene. Nothing wrong with any of that (especially when I was a20 something :) ) but now that I'm in my late 30's with 3 kids at home I'm much less likely to be out partying with other clitche "startup types". I'm at home with my wife and kids...hacking, writing and calling customers and prospects.
Not surprised at all. It all seems legit and quite valid.
I guess I don't fit into the average mold, and probably why so many people are surprised that I am the owner and boss.
I'd also like to know the definition of entrepreneur used. Does that include small businessmen or not. Small business owners are not entrepreneurs, but merely owners of small businesses without growing them rapidly. That could make a huge difference to the results.
Interesting facts. Would be keen to know more about how the curve of the Average Entrepreneurial Age has progressed over the past few years. I am sure the the average age is going to go down but still keeping in view the dot com burst wherein most of IT Startups were hit and left the others who were planning to either defer or drop the dreams alltogether. It would surely be interesting to understand such dynamics.
very interesting. I would have thought the age was so much less due to technology now. 40 seems to be the time you are settling into the better part of your career.
Thanks for this - I will read with interest. Yes - you were way wrong on age as I have worked for two $100-million firms started by folks over 50, have a friend who just started a busines at age of 70+ and still works 8-days a week like the rest of us, know plenty of others with larger firms started in their 40's. Bunch of us on both side of that 40 - think of Google, Microsoft and others as well. Age does not matter as much anymore. thanks again!
Interesting comment, John. I attended a presentation at a venture club from a serial entrepreneur and realized I wasn't an entrepreneur at all - just a brave small business start up - because I only intend to do this one time.
I have just been profiled!
What are your sources for these "facts?"
I was surprised that more folks didn't start a business because they couldn't get traditional employment or they were tired of "bullying" in jobs. I started my business at 55. It only took me 3 years to build a 2 million dollar asset and I do think education helped. I was raised poor but college and the ability to research, etc were critical to my success.
These metrics are not surprising at all. More often than not it takes time and experience in order to make it in a tough entrepeneurial landscape.
Thanks for the post! This report affirms the words of Napoleon Hill in "Think & Grow Rich", published in 1937 : "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."
My theory is that young, self-made wealth came into the forefront with rise of entertainment, sports, and technology fortunes in the 70s.
This was a good posting. I wonder how many entrepreneurs, such as myself, had been in the military prior to launching a business?
Well I must say, if I wasn't 40 and starting a business of my own I wouldn't belive the stats, however, that being said what I did find suprising is the high percentage of entrepreneurs who are married with kids.It's great to know I'm in good company.
Ellen: Any start up is an entrepreneurial act. However, what happens afterward is where the difference comes into play - GROWTH of the venture. One does not have to be a serial entrepreneur to be one.
Bruce, the link to the Kaufmann Foundation research article is on there. Remember though that this research is US based AFAIK.
You said that the average age of entrepreneurship is 40 and the "majority" have owned previous businesses.
Having begun one failed business as a twenty year old, and started a second tech biz as a 39 year old, I guess I fall pretty squarely in that group. It does point to the fact that as we get a little older and possibly wiser, our business failures and life experience lend themselves to greater success when we start subsequent businesses.
we are out of all ranges above, but interested in statistics;)
Nothing too surprising here for me.
The most surprising was that the median age of company founders when they started their current companies was 40. I would have said around 30.
Amazingly close. About 8 out of the 12 were similar to my own experience.
1. Started my first company when I was 31
2. Had one child and another on the way.
3. I am on my 4th
4. I worked for 9 years before I started my first company. I knew I could make as much or more as I was earning at the time I left.
I guess I am pretty much a statistical average :)
Started this business from nothing at age 52. Keep on growing. Have a BCom and a MBL. Starting a 2nd business to dovetail first one. First one is seasonal.
The Scriptures say: Deu 8:18 But you shall remember Jehovah your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, so that He may confirm His covenant which He has sworn to your fathers, as it is today.
I believe I will leave something for my children to carry on with.
All of the stats fit me!!
These stats should be much more broadly published. I am curious about the numbers behind the statistics, such as career trajectory, holding of jobs vs startups, etc. Because a lot of my "mid-career" friends are interested in starting or joining a startup, but they think it isn't for people of their lifestyle. I suppose that's self-selection in action, to an extent, but I don't think it would hurt to show them how other people make the transition.
Pretty interesting stats. Quite fitting to my situation. Good to know that I still have few years to catch up....
I think the 40+ year old point makes complete sense. The kids are more independent, they've built up some savings to take the risk, they have real-life business experience, etc.
I certainly expect the age for tech entrepreneurs to be much younger but we tend to forget that it's only one industry and it's definitely not the oldest (yes, pun intended)!
Nothing surprising. Survey report is for those who like to find what they wanted to prove. And presented to those who want to see what is related to them.
Hey,thanks a lot for posting this piece of information.It acts more as a source of motivation that its neither too early nor too late ever to get started in terms of entrepreneurship.
My take away is that there is a wide variety of people who choose to start their own business. It bears stating that it is rather easy to do so, in terms of establishing a legal entity, declaring one's intention and starting, in comparison to other countries. My experience is that there is are more people in America willing to take the chance to start their own business, which coupled with the ease of doing so, simply means more entrepreneurship.
After that, it comes down to the individual; there are no rules, no limits, no indicators other than ones desire and ones believe in an idea.
That said, I often feel like Monkey #999 trying to write my Shakespeare play. :-)
This one surprised me.
11. Entrepreneurship doesn’t always run in the family. More than half (51.9 percent) of respondents were the first in their families to launch a business.
Yes, I can relate to about 95% of it. I've worked in the Silicon Valley for 11 years and left to pursue a vision to change the world. Cheers to us!
I wonder what the ratio was between service sector businesses, tech, and retail. I started my business at 25 in 1985. I guess I am not typical. It would have been easier if I had had a previous job as an employee and a business degree.
The age factor.I am 34 years old and i felt as if i have already missed the bus, since i see lots of web startups founded by very young people.
#1 - what was the age that they started their *first* company? (ties into the serial comment - #7.
#4 and #7 are not the same (define sibling as brother/sister) and define family as aunts/uncles/cousins/parents. My first read of #4 and #7 caused to me to say "contradiction". Perhaps you could define the terms - to make it clear to all.
#3 is interesting - implies to me that being at the extreme edge (too rich/too poor) results - for obviously different reasons - in no forrays into entrepreneurship.
To answer your question "which of the above ...." - I'd have to say #1 - 95.1% ... -- I can't believe that stat - it seems way too high for me (again, I'm looking at all industries in all countries - not just the Valley).
Thanks for the post.
I think it is somewhat surprising, but inspirational nevertheless. Most of this applies to our company's founders.
GEM (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor) is another such report, actually set of reports (one per country) - Babson is involved in that. Here it is possible to see the percentage of "entrepreneurs" that is purely based on survival, with no growth initiative either. It is also interesting to see the very high level of entrepreneurship in some countries (either Peru or Chile)
compared to others.
Why would so many people think that the majority of start up companies are done by young people?
Correction to my comment.
I wrote: #4 and #7 are not the same
I meant to write: #4 and #11.
Apologies for the confusion on #4 and #11. Originally, they were mistakenly the same -- but it is now fixed.
2. Advanced degree
3. extremely poor
4. no siblings who started a business. I'm the oldest.
5. single. looking for a supportive spouse. LOL
6. no children
8. wealth is important, but I'm most comfortable being an entrepreneur.
9. traditional employment absolutely not a factor
11. parents had 2 small business ventures out of necessity to provide for family about 20 yrs ago. not anymore.
12. 12.5 yrs
40 year... That's a relief.
Any motivation to move fwd is good. I'm 32.
My profile matches 9 out of 12 cases you listed above. Some of them are natural drivers, folks settle down in life (get married and have kids etc), and then use the 35-45 age band to take some risks in life with entrepreneurship. www.sterizon.com
I think that the number of startups due to unemployment are lower than some of the articles that I have read.
This is very good article about enterpreneurs.
3. poor - medium income
4. My father.
6. No kids.
8. Everyone likes the green, however finishing a development project one can be proud of, which others enjoy.... well it's a unique and awesome feeling.
9. I could skate through life on a medium to high salary job. That seams like the easy way. Where's the fun in that?
10. This is true.
11. My father owned a successful small business.
12. Not I, I had worked on in small computer repair shops and consulted on various geeky things until I first "hit it big".
The profile is somewhat accurate. I was bitten by the entrepreneur bug when I was in college and cofounded a non-profit at 21 which disbanded after we met our fundraising goals.
I was surprised that only 25% in the survey were single. I fall into that category and 50% of the women entrepreneurs I networked with at age 32 when I launched my 1st for-profit company, were single.
I am always struck by how passionate, committed and driven entrepreneurs are whether they are rich or poor, have college degree or not, in their 20s, 40s, or 60s or have family roles models. I look forward to entrepreneurial networking events just for the inspiration.
None of the points are really any surprising.
Well, the report says average age of founder is 40 "across a variety of industries" which may be true but, I too feel like many others, in the IT industry a founder's age is far less. I'm 33 and launched my own venture, just another typical example :)
I'd love to believe those stats, unfortunately I find a sample of 549 too small to draw conclusions. I believe in all of us making our own luck (or unluck), not to get 2.6 children and stay in a job 6 years before starting a company.
wonderful composition and tones!
Good information. As a serial entrepreneur myself, I relate to most of those points.
No.1 came out as a big surprise to me...
I think that what most shocked
me was the average age
of the entrepreneurs.
All of the 12 points apply to me. Except that I'm not an entrepreneur. :-)
The average age figure-even if that figure is skewed,I'd like to believe it to be true for my own benefit-came as a relief to me, I still have time!
Many of the findings were surprises to me.
Vincent - your point on sample size is very debatable - what basis are you using for the statement? IMHO based what I could figure out on the questions (I did not see the full questionnaire) the number of responders seems to be statistically acceptable.
The biggest surprise to me was that most did better at high (secondary) school than at University. I guess that I was too much of a sport (and other activities) fanatic at school.
Wondering about the medium age... 40 - current company, ok this is harmonic --> the first company does not always work perfectly when you start too young. Most business models have a short term view or turn out to have one, lessons learned next company ... this is normal. Makes sense.
According to statistics of the National Institute of Health, the average age of recipient of the first R01 grant (that is the first independent grant whete the recipient is the primary investigator) is 42 for PhDs and 44 for MDs.
This is quite consistent.
Interesting information. Most stats seem pretty close. At 66 my wife and I needed to do something because of the economy. Three months ago, we started a new upscale furniture consignment store. We needed a jump start, so we went out of our way to make it unique. It is doing great. It is not our first, and it may not be our last.
It is never too early or late if you have your heart in it.
This is great! I'd love to see info on how many new business have been started due to layoffs and how they're doing. Would make for a great series.
The age demographic was older than I had previously been led to believe. thanks for posting.
I am surprised that close to 70% of the respondents were married and close to 60% have children.
Perhaps a sign of maturity?
I am under 40 and single - do I still get to run my business? I am a little surprised by the age skew, I would have thought that people who were younger would be more likely to take risks.
Really interesting study, Dharmesh. I think it confirms a lot of what we already knew:
1) Entrepreneurs have to work hard for every bit of success and that starts in High School (more than half in the top 10% of their classes) and translates through their careers.
2) Coming from "middle class and upper lower class" puts them squarely in the range where they're raised to be hungry for success and climb the social ladder. This reminds me of the studies about the Immigrant Work Ethic (http://bit.ly/CY5pY).
3) Most entrepreneurs are serial entrepreneurs...once you catch the bug, you don't stop.
The only issue I have with the study is the sampling. I realize it's not very easy to track many first time entrepreneurs, but because of this, I think there's a large opportunity to subsequently focus a study on first time and young entrepreneurs.
I am on the brink of starting a startup in India.
I want to start a software company with one of my colleagues at my previous job.
I would like to know if I am doing it right by trusting a person whom I know for only last 6 months.
To tell the truth I am seeking benefits for myself, as he is an experienced and efficient programmer, I wont need to hire someone to write codes.
Though my father is ready to support my startup, but he is not willing to support the partnership.
He wants me to be the sole propreitor(Dont know whether its is spelt right).
Nothing about those statistics surprises me... but that's probably because I'm so squarely in the majority it describes! :)
Very interesting article...
Very impressive report. Of course no report like this can be 100% reliable. I for one know many more Y gen entrepreneurs than 40+ but that is probably because they are my age so I get introduced to more of them.
I do think the term entrepreneur is not defined properly though, it is more of an opinion.
Interesting. I'd be interested to know what industries the entrepreneurs are involved in. I'd say tech, especially internet, the age of entrepreneurs would be a whole lot lower.
I think media is to blame for so many people thinking entrepreneurs are younger. It seems that 20 somethings get a lot more attention when they succeed.
I would bet that more than 75% of successful startups were founded by people 35 or over.
However they are not as hot to cover on the news.
News like extremes, so if I was 15 or 90 years old with a successful startup the chances of me appearing everywhere would be a lot higher.
When you are average there is nothing exciting about you.. ;(
I'd really like to see the breakdown of ages versus successful (read profitable) startups.
They say that only 1 in 10 startups have a chance of survival. Is that the same for all ages too?
One would think that more seasoned professionals would have a better chance.
I was also surprised about the average age.. and like someone said.
The list seems to be just defining the average person. Not too old. not too young, not to rich or poor, not too stupid.. just plain average.
Interesting Stats. Thanks for sharing Dharmesh. Makes me feel good, as I can relate to some. About your question-
Which of the above surprises you the most and alters your mental model of what entrepreneurs are like?
11. Entrepreneurship doesn’t always run in the family. More than half (51.9 percent) of respondents were the first in their families to launch a business.
Very interesting stats & more interesting comments! Some of the stats make sense like the age of most start ups but I think if we really included the tech demographics the age would be much younger! I applaud all who have the courage & vision to be an entrepreneur!
I have recently found this site & am excited about its potential in the US market for entrepreneurs, etc. https://www.angelsinaction.tv/
These statistic are interesting and very surprising, thanks for posting these and hopefully they will inspire those people who are consider entrepreneurship but didn't think that they were the typically business owner!
Good study. Median age can be less if the samples drawn are from IT related countries or from the group that are already there in the succesful business. Your data could not be skewed. Has marriage had any influence financially or morally or emotionally to start a business?
Good analysis, I can relate myself a lot in this stats...
Two sides of the coin - yes, younger people may be more likely to take a risk (most often a blind risk), but an older person (and especially if better qualified) can reduce the risk radically, with experience and knowledge. - Also people tend to hide their earlier failures/not so successes.
Even in the high technology environments, an opportunity has to be seen, requiring the ability to pull it off, these often requires experience AND relationships to attain - such a combination is usually bestowed upon the NOT SO YOUNG. 40's is normally when people peak in their careers - it seems logical that at that age it be the highest possibility to start a business.
I have worked in teh field of entrepreneurship development and education for 25 years and seen many such surveys. They are interesting to the extent that they provide some contours to a map. But they are not of much use to frame policy, curriculum or mentoring. They provide information About a sample and no insight For entrepreneurs. What startups want to know is really what will help them succeed, have they got good ideas, where to raise money, find team members, how to win over customers and so forth. Surely that is the kind of large scale survey that is needed. From my own work there are three key elements of success: the quality of the management team is probably number one; availability of markets and ability to get into them is number 2 and the entrepreneurial spirit as a broad definition of much of the so called "soft skills" would be at number 3 - but the order would change form case to case. Hope this adds fuel to the debate.
One point that I think is glaringly omitted from this post:
I wonder what the gender stats are?
My great friend Natalie who has started Womanzworld.com which linked me to this site should have something to say about this!
Good fact to discover Dharmesh.
Coming from the business family, so entrepreneurship is the way of life but now-a-day its just not about doing business but more so about making business really BIG.
Though median age looks on a higher side but i guess Entrepreneurship is growing at a great speed and people even at young age plunge into business since the risk taking appetite is very high at young age.
Experience and exposure are great contributors in making a venture successful but most important factor is risk appetite.
I started my own firm in the year 2000 with my friend. We were both aged 25 when we started. Previously I had worked for a major steel company for 1.5 years. Both of us are the first in our families to have started on our own business.
We are in the business of software services and support. We are still going strong.
80% of these relates to me as well
I guess Entrepeneurs born being an Entrepeneurs and only 2% to 3% from the working force are Entrepeneurs.I started my first business when i was 24. I established more than 12 companies until today most of them are industrial with providing know how.I guess what helps to develop a personality of an enrtrepeneurs is working in the summer vacations.(From age 6 until i graduated i used to work in a factory for 6 hours daily earning my own money).
This is my experiance in life.Thanks a lot for this interesting subject.
Read Scott Shane's "The Illusions of Entrepreneurship" for more insight - and policy implications - on the topic.
oh gos im juz 24 now...still 16 years to start a concern...lol
Thanks for the interesting post, but I can't help making a critical note here.
Unfortunately, many of these statistics relate to the public in general:
1 (average age in highly developed countries is about 40),
3 (less than 1% is extremely rich or poor),
6 (on average people of 40 have 1 or 2 children),
10 (most people are better educated than their parents), etc.
That's the problem with statistics. Without variance and sample data, they become like horoscopes...
Fun to read anyway.
All good stuff but what was the male/female breakdown of the 549 survey participants?
Would have definitely expected the median age to be in 20s. Another fact that you could perhaps include is how many entrepreneurs were men and how many women!
Oh dear... "Facts" like these make statisticians weep.
Remember that correlation does not imply causation and that you need benchmarks to interpret any data.
5 and 6 are closely related to 1. I doubt the existence of marriage and kids help to explain any more about the "anatomy of entrepreneurs" than they do about the "anatomy of 40 year olds".
3, 9, 10, and 12 are probably just as true for anybody as they are for entrepreneurs.
I'm actually surprised the figure for number 11 isn't a lot higher than that. I am pretty sure that on average most people have not owned businesses so i would expect this figure to be up above 70%. To me this figure actually demonstrates that entrepreneurship does run in the family. I.E if only a small part of the population actually start businesses but nearly 50% of those people are second generation then i think this proves that you are more willing to start a company if there has been one in the family. Why? I guess its the knowledge that you know you can wok for yourself and have been brought up in an environment where entrepreneurship is regarded and there is an appetite for risk. I would love to see a figure for the number of children of government officals that become entrepreneurs; i cant help thinking that risk aversion may have been engrained into them from a young age...
Interesting stats. I was 30 with my first startup, an arts non profit. I'm on my third which I started at 46, a three year old at home and another on the way. There's no great er motivator than having a family to support.
Wow, I fall right into the average, guess I'm not as special as I thought :-).
47% of statistics are made up you know
i scored a 12 on 12.
No 12 as 3/4 is a lot. Being conditioned to waste your life trading it for money & working for others it is hard to break out of the rut after 6+ years.
Entrepreneurs are like Rhinos - endangered unless they are prepared to work together and follow their passion. Team work makes the dream not only survive but thrives because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Interesting stats which closely match my profile. Don't do red beans though and I like my rice fried! It's best if you do the corporate thing first and make learn by mistakes on someone elses tab before going it alone.
Interesting stats which closely match my profile. Don't do red beans though and I like my rice fried! It's best if you do the corporate thing first and make learn by mistakes on someone elses tab before going it alone.
I'm 49 now, currently involved in my fastest-growth start-up, which I think is a product of everything good I've learned in 15 years of serial company creation. I'd be very interested in tracking all of these surveys against some demonstrable success, however early stage. It's very easy, even with a really bad idea and little done with it, to make a claim to entrepreneurship.
There are many reasons why people start their own business I have to agree to disagree with some of the information as it would need more consideration to be able to be near factual.
3 things that were pointed out Marriage, age and children have a psychological point to make themselves.
With marriage it has two factors that could be considered, financial support within the couple or pressing money issues where an additional income is required, this also relates to the children and the costs with raising children these days.
Age is a bit of a odd ball as there is some many way to looking at why people start business at different ages.
20-25 age groups don’t want to work for other people and live the dream (in a manner of speaking) they think its easy and they have the get up and go to try.
40+ would be those people who have worked for others for a number of years and are aware. After all if you look at a business you may work for, you may see a invoice that says the client is paying lots of money per hour compared to the rate of pay in the pay pack, then they want to take the hourly rate, they have considerable experience and will take contacts form the business they have worked in.
I have also found that the older age groups just got bored with what they were doing and wanted to do something new but had been in one sector and couldn’t see themselves being able to get a job outside of the industry they have worked within. Thus started there own business.
It was interesting that there is no mention that 1 in 3 business fails in the first 3 years and that one of the larger reasons for business failures in the owner taking a larger wage than the business can support and the lack of re investment into the business as a result.
Most business plans have little to no market research carried out and is picked out of thin air.
Most start-ups do not consider the cost correctly and inflation to place there business.
Most start ups do not fully know their competition fully and take serious account of the market force.
There are far to many variables with such a small amount of people surveyed
i totally disagree with the survey that most entrepreneurs make it at 40 i have and know many friends who made there millions and trust me non of them were any were near 40 most of them had not hit there 30s. so i wouldnt take much notice of this article its very misleading
Excellent post! Most of this fits me perfectly! I was actually suprised to learn that median age of company founders is around 40. I started my business at 39. Worked as an editor for 10 years before I started by first company.
Not that surprising at all, I just think really young entrepreneurs have more publicity. But I think this stats are very encouraging for every person thinking about starting a new business -it´s never too late, and you don´t have to risk your family income or quit your job to start your own business.
I'm with you... wife, 2 kids and 40 starting to peek over the hill... I'm all gung-ho to get things really rolling on my own. Biggest problem is that family needs my time as well (and IMO is more important.
Frankly, when I was in my 20's, I don't think I could have pulled anything off... not only was I spending too much time "playing" , but I didn't know the right people to help get things going.
Love it! Entrepreneurs are a fascinating breed and it's always fun to learn more about us... that said, I fall well from the "norm" on almost all of these points - suppose I should feel special ;)
Actually, I'd like to comment back to the gentlman who is considering a startup, in India, w/a former colleague.
Undoubtedly,taking on the challenge of starting up a business is a huge undertaking and (for most people) involves taking many risks, some of which are more within our control than others. In having said that, partnering up with an acquaintance of less than a year, may be one risk you're willing to hold off on, for now. If this person is as equally committed to the success of the business as you, then he should understand and be willing to accept why it may not be in anyone's best interest to bring him on as an equal or partner, at this time.
Ask yourself how critical he is to achieving the goals you want and if a vital piece of the puzzle, make him an offer that satisfies both his and your immediate needs, without your having to take on anymore risks than you can currently handle.
It takes a significant amount of money to start a business (maybe in the VC world 10K-20K is not alot but its usually between 3-6 months of salary for the average person)so people need to wait a while before they bet thier hard earned savings.
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Little bit surprised that all that education hasn't produced any motivations more rounded than just the desire to make a lot of money.
The measure here was the effect of education on starting a business successfully, and NOT to measure motivation as a result of education....
Education is one a MAJOR success criteria in successful entrepreneurial (incl. growing) businesses.
I found No 2. most interesting as I can relate (somewhat) to the others ...
"95.1 percent of respondents themselves had earned bachelor's degrees, and 47 percent had more advanced degrees"
25 years ago I passed ALL-BUT-ONE of the elements of my Beauty Therapy diploma with flying colours and have run a 'modestly' successful beauty business for the past 22. My business now operates as an umbrella to 6 Independent (qualified!!) Therapists whom I adore!
SO THE REASON I'M MOST INTERESTED IN NO. 2 IS BECAUSE ...
Before taking my beauty exam I left high school with 4 grade C 'O' levels. Unfortunately, I never became a qualified beauty therapist (I failed the BUSINESS element of my diploma and didn't re-take) ALSO - Not one of my six therapists set out to 'work for themselves' and each left school with lower grades than me BUT five of my girls are single parents who work extremely hard earning better money this way with more flexibility and greater work satisfaction ...
Ps Am I and entrepreneur? xXx
Great research Dharmesh. I do a lot of work in locals schools to promote Entrepreneurship, so I am going to use the stats as talking points with the kids.
Michelle - No you are NOT an entrepreneur - you are a small business owner. There is a big difference between the two...
This ia absolutely great, thanks for the info. I really didnt expect entrepreneurs to be the kind of people to work for 6 yrs before they started their businesses however i am sure none of them wanted to be working but really required the start-up capital.
I wonder what the stats are for number of start-up attempts before launching wildly successful start-up?
What surprises me is how 'average' I am, therefore, as an entrepreneur.
The only thing I don't have is a sibling who has started a business :-). But then again, I don't have any siblings, so I guess that's reasonable.
I think most Entrepreneurs will eventually be a serial entrepreneur, it's in our blood to create, not maintain. I think it's just a matter of when you ask the entrepreneur the question. It's good to know I'm like most of them and proud to have 3 under my belt at 38.
The Kaufman Foundation has another report that indicates midlife and older entrepreneurs make up the majority of new entrepreneurs. It also indicates that this group will probably lead the US out of the recession.
This tallies with my constituency, midlife and older managers who are reinventing themselves en masse into knowledge-based service businesses, as much for interest and adventure as for money.
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Michele - I believe that you are correct - once in the blood - difficult to remove - and also very difficult to be a pure business operator that only wants smooth operations with organic growth, until it's maturity turns into old-age.
Entrepreneurs will do start-ups, turn-around, rejuvenation etc. I.e. they will get a business back on a radical growth path...
They will never: Just ensure that all processes works perfectly, like an oiled machine, because by that time, the business are starting to go beyond maturity. - They will always look at how to put the business on the next growth path, to bring it to the next level of business activity. They will not use purely "standard practice" - because then the business lack the innovation required to compete and bring it to the next level or even to create a new market.
Financiers believe (classic bean-counter types): Entrepreneurs are good for start-up, then has to be replaced by an operator which will make the business a measurable oiled machine... Financiers do not like innovation, they want standard practice, then they can estimate and gauge the business against other similar businesses. Innovation takes that ability away. Financiers do not like change in business, that makes the performance estimation "unpredictable".
Most of the above is contrary to that of a real entrepreneur.
If you create a standard business, based on standard practice, then you are more likely to get finance, based on standard growth, income and profitability patterns....
If you create an innovative business then you will have to look further, to find the VC's interested in higher growth patterns, VC's that can understand your proposal, or industry etc. VC's that often were entrepreneurs themselves, not just CPA (most not all) fund managers. People that can go beyond the standard and measured, people that has the ability to understand how such can change the market, and how that will generate new revenue streams, understand what happens at the various stages of a Kondatiev Curve (especially with it now being batch together instead of the old 50 year cycles), Product life-cycles, market disruption, and the ability to realize the potential effects and side effects of such .... that is the people that is best suited for a true innovative entrepreneur's venture funding.
The article seems good and thanks for linking to the report also. I few days back,I have made a post regarding the "Road to entrepreneurship", may be you will like it also.
I find the high levels of education surprising. We work with a lot of entrepreneurs and it has been our experience that a huge portion of them are non-traditional learners... and many didn't finish high school. Also, many suffer from (what the school system labels) some form of learning disability such as dyslexia and/or ADD/ADHD. These are brilliant people who could not sit still in class, therefore became known as "problem" children.
Brent - are you talking about survivalists, micro or small business people - they are not entrepreneurs....
People with Autism, Aspergers, Dislexia, ADD/ADHD are not the norm, but the exception. Many of them do not complete schooling (Einstein is but one example), de to normal schooling systems not being able to provide them with a place to develop. But never to underestimate their capability. I know of quite a few people even with combination of these problems, whom were very successful. Even my own child, being autistic, recently qualified as a mechanical engineer and continuing with post graduate studies - purely because he did not go to normal schooling, where he would not have shaped.
Entrepreneurs ALSO has another attribute or rather focus: to grow a business (beyond the norm).
South Africa's GEM report highlights the "entrepreneurship" quite clearly: Most people interviewed have not completed secondary schooling. Nor do they intent to employ an additional person within the next 12 months, etc. These are all signs of small businesses (often survivalists), whom will take the first employment opportunity they get, thus are micro-business people, merely so survive from day-to-day
I have ADD and struggled through school. Later I did a BCom as welll as an MBL.
Our business has grown from supplying schools books to 22 schools and now after three years we are in all 9 provinces as well as Namibia. It grows at 40 % p.a.
Our plan is to have three big offices, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban.
Presently all the work is still done by myself. My partner, who compiled the books I sell, plans to resign (he is a teacher) and come into the business very soon. Hopefully we will grow at 50 % then.
The age and family status threw me at first glance, but anyone that has started a business from scratch knows the capital and wisdom it takes to get off the ground successfully. Plus, for people with the entrepreneurial-gene, the longer you work for someone else, the more you want to work for yourself.
As a business owner myself, I'm in total agreement with the recent comment re: the wisdom/capital it takes these days to start a business and after many years of working for others, it's refreshing to be the one and only person I'm accountable/responsible for any/all results.
Interesting! I would have thought that the average age of company founders would have been lower. I don't feel too old now!
This is a great article. I would like to see some statistics about freelancers versus entrepreneurs. My company focuses on freelancers and helping them succeed and gain customers. I would guess freelancers have the same "entrepreneur-gene" but have a different statistical profile from what your statistics reveal about entrepreneurs. Thanks for the post.
I am surprised by (9). Whatever percent, who would want to start a business due to lack of employment.
I believe the biggest motivator to be an enterpreuner is for wealth creation and may be faster. But for survivability, being an enterpreuner, its strange. Rest of the findings are not surprising, except for the median age. I expected it to be younger.
I realize that sometimes it may be hard to distinguish a survivalist from a true entrepreneur, and that sometimes the boundary blurs a little, but we have noticed a high co-relational factor between those individuals that really don’t fit the school system and entrepreneurs; often that’s why they don’t fit the school system. These are kids that are fiercely independent, insist of doing things their own way, highly intelligent, and, because of these traits, often are looked at as “problem child.” AND… often students with specific (labelled) learning disabilities like dyslexia and ADHD behave the same way. I’m not saying that all dyslexics are entrepreneurs, but there is a huge overlap.
Keep in mind that the very term “learning disability” is a term invented by academia as a way to blame the child for the shortcomings of the school system. “We don’t seem to be able to teach your child. Wait… he’s dyslexic…? Ahhhh… that explains it… it’s your child’s fault.”
I could go into great detail here, (and if anyone is interested, please feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com) and while there are many other factors, let me just say that that’s why we started our own private international high-school in Canada that has “entrepreneurship” as the very foundation of everything it teaches. We still teach the Canadian curriculum, but we do it very differently and in a “language” that supports the development of the entrepreneurial mindset.
It's amazing but looking at myself, I fit quite a few of those characteristics - first in my family, degree, etc. I would also be curious on the gender split and how those metrics change based on female vs. male. Great data!
I think, I am not like the majority.
I founded my first company when I was 18 or 19
I am now studying in a postgraduate level.
I'm not married yet and don't have any children.
I never applied for a traditional job but I think no one will hire me or I will be kicked soon :P
But I do belong to a middle class family.
I would be very curious about the demographics of the respondents in your sample. Let's start with how many were women?
I'm an Internet entrepreneur. The description outlined in the article pretty much characterizes me. I'm still working pretty hard to hit the big time but I'm not about to give up.
Looks like I should get myself a wife and kids so I tick more of the boxes! Hopefully I'm well on my way...
Great post! I would have loved to see in the study how an entrepreneur's natural behavior: talents, strengths and struggles contributed to their success or why they chose to start a business.
Interesting, but I can't say that it surprises me at all. I guess I know too many entrepreneurs.
I, like Paul, would love to see the stats on how many that were married when they started their first, stayed married. Being married to an entrepreneur is not easy on either person and takes a special connection to make it work.
The only one that surprises me (and I would definitely classify myself as an entrpreneur) is #8 that nearly 75% say their motivation is building wealth. I guess it depends on what kind of an entrepreneur you are. Who were the people that responded to the poll? Wealth is nice of course, but for me, I am an idea driven person. My motivation for the 4 businesses I have started has been always first and formost driven by a great idea and a desire to see that idea come to fruition. A desire for independence would be second on the list, most cubicle dwellers don't make good entrepreneurs. Huge wealth has never been a motivator for me. Earning a comfortable living doing something that I created and that has meaning to me and others is most rewarding from my perspective.
Great post! I fit into all of the categories but one-my younger brother has never had his own business but is an IT guy. I can see concrete differences in how he and I are hard-wired. Interesting that the average age is so high. I wonder if starting a company later comes from years of experience and wisdom or the beginning of a mid-life crisis - probably some of the both!!
It does not alter my personal vision of what an entrepreneur is like, although I think many internet entrepreneurs are much younger.
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I enjoyed reading this but I failed on almost every point aside from a couple. I started just after high school with no degree and Victory is the top independent rock label in the country (Nielsen SoundScan market share).
If you have a vision coupled with the ability to sacrifice and work hard you can achieve anything. (Unwavering passion helps too...)
Tony Brummel / Victory Records
Definitely some interesting after-thought facts. However, I don't believe I fit into any one of these stats. I'm 20 years old, I am currently working towards an associates degree, no one in my family has started their own business. I'm not married, and have no kids, my dad only has an associates degree, my mom only has a hs degree, and I've only worked at my current employer for less than 2 years (web development firm), and I just recently started my own business in web design and web development. I don't think any of these stats are really all that useful, except for entertainment purposes maybe, because all of the above stats are derived from one major stat that was left out, and that is that the people sampled all had one thing in common: drive and ambition, the rest of the stats just trickle down from there, the same goes for almost any entrepreneur/self-starter.
#2 really surprised me. Many of the entrepreneurs I have come across do not have degrees or advanced degrees for that matter.
And also the fact about the siblings was surprising to me. Many people I have read about or met picked up entrepreneurship from their grandparents.
I am actually surprised that so many of the entrepreneurs are so well educated. I figured the number for a bachelors degree would be closer to 60%.
I'd be interested to know the education levels of the responders and people following this thread:
1. Not completed secondary schooling.
2. Less than B degree
3. B degree
4. Post graduate or multiple degrees
mine is 4.
Nice to read about these stats. But the failure rate of most entrepreneurs are actually high. They start out mildly successful but soon closes shop. The handful few who do become successful are also able to sustain their business long term.
All of them are very interesting facts. I was surprised to see the average median age was 40. I would have thought it to be a bit younger.
Some other statistics that are surprising. The average income of an entrepreneur is $50K and 70% saw no improvement in their standard of living by starting a business.
That average income is surely that of small business and NOT entrepreneur. There is a whole load of people that confuse the two....
Excellent post! You brought up some very intersting points. I was quite surprised to see that the median age of company founders was 40. I was guessing it to be younger.
Very interesting post, I thought the median age would be a lot lower!
Very cool facts. There are certainly a few that I was shocked by. Mainly:
#1 the age
#6 the family bit..
This gives me hope for one day opening up my doggy daycare!
I always thought being single is an advantage - And being married would deter an individual from taking up the risk of entrepreneurship. But #5 is surprising.
#5 69.9 percent of respondents indicated they were married when they launched their first business.
Animesh - So was I (also married, with kids), though at a much younger age. For me the younger age was a mistake - should have learned a little more on entrepreneurship theories - the business was successful, but I burned out... did not see that part coming.
It was interesting to see that the overwhelming majority of entrepreneurs have a true drive for financial success. Family, age, status were not factors that let them get in the way of their goals.
Most of these surprise me at least a little!
I guess in our online world we often forget that there are entrepreneurs offline as well!
Jessica Routier, IAC-EZ
Interesting and a tad surprising. Although most people picture the entrepreneur as a risk-seeking cowboy (or cowgirl), these stats from your small sample shows a tendency for security and calculated risk-taking. I call these types "Cautionpreneurs" (the term needs work, but you get the point).
Nothing really surprise me. I just confirmed that not all entrepreneurs build business for financial wealth.
The statistics will help starting entrepreneurs to be more unique.
Marcos, there is a huge difference between gamblers and entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs work with controlled and calculated risks. They are cautionary in all respects work at reducing and control risks.
I'd like to know if there was a years-in-business criteria that you used to validate the length of time they have ran a "successful" business?
OK, looks like I have to stop worrying that I'm late and start worrying that I'm too early ;)
Nice one.. I can relate all points.
Very useful info, thanks!.. although I'm only 18 right now and I'm thinking of starting my first Internet business in around 4-6 years time. =] Putting tremendous efforst on the ambition learning new things everyday
Thanks for sharing the information, it really made me feel like I'm right on track with my own business and oddly enough none of the research surprised me.
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Neil, Some people are entrepreneurs, i.e. they start and grow businesses, once stablised they hand it over to a business "operator". Entrepreneurs are NOT small business men, nor are they corporate CEO's (unles the corporate is going through a radical growth phase or rejuvenation, and definitely NOT organic growth....
Typically they have the wrong personal, risk and process atributes to run a business like an oiled business - they change business
Very good point Johan - and I think one that is often glossed over.
The role of a) small business man b) entrepreneur and c) CEO are different.
And, as a company changes (ie its growth path, its market place etc) the person running it - great person that they might be - should not continue to run it.
I think this is true of all positions in a company and therefore it would be better if the person in charge were to think of himself as a contractor on a fixed contract and due a pay off.
The problem with ownership - of course - is that it is very hard to persuade the entrepreneur to leave.
That is a serious problem for the investors that needs to be over come.
The list seems reasonable. The only one that doesn't apply to me is number 11. Michael Gerber, of E-Myth fame, would add that true entrepreneurs are pragmatic idealists. The only way to combat the serial entrepreneur issue (I'm on No. 9) is to find a passion so strong and create a vision so big that it will never leave the development stage. That's what I finally had to do. Now, I exclusively do development and hire managers as i need them to take over things I am bored with or ready to pass on.
Serial entrepreneurship is not a matter of success and failure but rather boredom.
I was slightly surprised by the fact the average and median age was 40. I had a feeling that it should be lesser (around 30).
Rest of the things were more in the line of expectations. Long live the entrepreneurs.
I'm surprised that over 51% of entrepreneurs were the first ones in their families to start businesses. My partner and I had a strong urge to begin our own businesses due to our experience with our parents being business owners. Lessons learned a long the way make a huge difference in attitude and expectations.
I agree with Dharmesh. Not terribly shocking, but I am surprised at the median age. I was expecting it to be a younger age.
Wow! 95.1 percent of respondents themselves had earned bachelor’s degrees? So they all then tried out the corporate world and hated it.... just like me.... lol
Thank you much for posting this piece. I am younger than the median age and was surprised by number 1. Also, number 2 was refreshing to hear as many of those who are new to the entrepreneurial lifestyle like to constantly refer to the "Gates'" and "Zuckerberg's" to justify their reason for not wanting to pursue or find value in obtaining education (almost as if being an entrepreneur is a way to bypass traditional educational paths or institutions).
Thank you again for taking the time to share this and I look forward to more of your write-ups.
All the best,
The media does an excellent job of over-emphasizing the marriage between youth and successful entrepreneurship.
The focus of the biz and tech media on younger success stroies makes for more interesting stories due to the rarity of completely dominating a market by young pioneers (exceptions ofcourse: MS, Google, Apple, etc.) The truth is closer to an older median: but then again 40 is the new 25 ;)
I also think that the finding of 15.2% of the founders had a sibling that previously started a business was also quite interesting: supposedly learning the ropes from the path started by others.
The demographic information cited in the report was fascinating -- and indeed the family status was most surprising but perhaps those people that have a stable home life are able to take more business and financial risk because their emotional support structure is well in place. I recall discussions in a leadership course at Stanford about the amazing percentage of CEO's at large organizations who had stay at home spouses and whether that had an impact on their ability to alter the work/home balance without risking their family support structure. Perhaps an investigation into the "ambiguity tolerance" for entrepreneurs would be an interesting study. I suspect there is a limit to the amount of chaos or risk each person can handle and that a stable family permits more of ones risk tolerance to be "spent' at work.
The Kaufman Organization published another report on this data just this week that focuses on the experiences that influence the making of the entrepreneur <a> http://tinyurl.com/yelr7kz ,,a\>
Key takeaways include a remarkably low rate of VC/Angel funding (mostly self-funded through savings), importance of professional networks, prior work experience, and a willingness to take risk.
Hi Stephanie - fascinating insights into the homelife of CEOs.
Do you think that entrepreneurs and CEOs of large companies have matching risk profiles though?
Either way, it does support the argument that when hiring senior people you need to interview the family too!
Which brings us back full circle to the observation that family plays a big part in who becomes an entrepreneur in the first place.
Gill, I believe that you've hit the nail on the head. Boredom does play a big role. However, having said that, to figure out another growth path and to get the business to grow rapidly again is what makes an entrepreneur (as opposed to a business manager/operator). As for a serial entrepreneur - there is always another business idea as well. -- For many years I was not able to work towards an integration path between my ideas - in fact I had to turn 50 to start working on an integrated multi-business line, international business. Thus far I had more success with that, in a very short time in space that with any other business in the past in the same time-span.
Loving the comments on these facts. I must admit that I admit that I fulfil some of the findings but I am 18 years younger.
And on the point of boredom, I am just launched quicklingo.com and yet I have so many other ideas to launch next year. Being a serial entrepreneur is addictive but enjoyable and rewarding.
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