Being an entrepreneur is beyond difficult, and requires a mix of hustle, experience and passion to be successful. However, these components never perfectly overlap across the average human age timeline.
I started my first company in high school and never had a real job, so I've experienced being an entrepreneur at a variety of ages. Here are my thoughts after nearly 20 years of starting, crashing, growing, shrinking and selling companies.
The ideal age timeline is a reverse bell curve.
Generally the best timing for starting a company is when you don't have frequent family obligations and have a lot of time on your hands. This occurs in your early/mid 20's and later in life past 55 years old.
You might think that 55+ folks don't have the energy or brainpower to handle the stresses and multifunctional life of an entrepreneur - but you'd be dead wrong. A 94-year old man may have just invented the next battery technology that will revolutionize the energy industry.
Middle age can actually be a sweet spot.
If you don't have a family, and don't plan on starting a family, then 35-40 years old can actually be a sweet spot. This is probably where you'll have the best combination of energy and experience during your life. You still won't have the quick thinking brain ability of a 24 year old, but you'll make up for it in domain expertise, experience and gray hairs.
However, I have noticed that the most well rounded successful entrepreneurs do have families, and this is the time to be running a successful company - not starting one.
The best age to start a business.
I would say generally to follow the reverse bell curve and start a company early or later in life. However, my vote for the best age to start a business is 24 years old. A recent study showed that 24 is the peak of quick thinking abilities, and it is all downhill from there - so no time to lose!
The quick thinking ability of someone in their 20s is critical to tackling the multitude of tasks necessary to start a business from scratch. They also have the energy to stay up all night to solve problems and still be up for the 8am pitch.
Sure a 24 year old person won't have the experience to avoid as many mistakes as someone older, but let's face it - nearly every entrepreneur gets it wrong the first few times no matter the experience level. Therefore, I believe it is more advantageous to have the energy and ability to be able to switch and evolve on a dime like you can when you're 24 years old.
The real answer I believe is 'as soon as humanly possible' if you are willing to take on the risk and have the ingenuity, energy, ambition and passion for a startup project. It doesn't matter if you're seven years old, it is never too early to start a business.