Launching a company seems glamorous. You might guess that more people are giving it a go than ever before. Since scrappy young startups tend to get the most attention, just-born ventures should make up a bigger portion of U.S. businesses now than in the past.

Right? Wrong.

U.S. Census data on 5.1 million U.S. companies shows the typical American firm is now significantly older on average than it was a couple of decades ago. For 2016, the most recent year available, roughly half of all American companies were at least 10 years old--up 25 percent from two decades ago.

Inc.'s annual list of the fastest-growing companies in America backs this up: The average age of companies on the Inc. 5000 was 12.5 years (with a median age of 10 years).

You can imagine lots of potential explanations.

Maybe people aren't starting as many businesses. Maybe the businesses that do launch survive longer, so their founders don't leave to start new ones. Maybe people are simply realizing that entrepreneurship is lonely.

Not everyone has what it takes to pursue this fascinating, essential path. But if you're courageous enough to take the leap, you have plenty of reasons to be proud.

Here's what else I'm reading today:

A few post-election predictions.

Now that the midterm elections are over, how will life change for business owners? Amid the chaotic scene in Washington, a few likely bets are emerging.

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (a.k.a. the new NAFTA) seems likely to become law, for one thing. There could also be fewer regulations and a more active pro-business judiciary. (Diana Ransom, Inc.)

The giant new tax in San Francisco.

The Bay Area is known for three things: tech companies, liberal politics, and a homeless population with significant challenges.

On Tuesday, voters in San Francisco combined all three, passing a controversial tax on companies with more than $50 million in revenue to fund homeless services. It's not quite final, however. An already-pending court case means the tax could be tied up for quite some time. (Guadalupe Gonzalez, Inc.)

The surprisingly positive things people are doing on YouTube.

It's not all unboxing videos, political diatribes, and people watching other people play video games on YouTube.

A new study reports that at least 50 percent of YouTube users say the platform helps them learn new skills. And 34 percent of parents with kids under 11 say their children watch YouTube videos regularly, with their approval.(Aaron Smith, Skye Toor and Patrick Van Kessel, The Pew Research Center)

"Mommy, can I get this fun toy I saw in the Amazon catalog?"

Once upon a time, holiday catalogs helped make Sears and Toys 'R' Us great success stories of the 20th century. Now that both companies are battered shells of their former selves, Amazon is picking up on the idea.

The internet behemoth will print 70-page holiday toy catalogs--both to mail to consumers and hand out at Whole Foods. A big difference from the catalogs of years ago? No prices, so Amazon can adjust them as the season progresses. (Taylor Telford, The Washington Post)

Election news for people who hate that it gets dark so early now.

The ramifications of the midterm elections are still playing out, and some races aren't final yet. But one big change could come to California as a result of a referendum: 60 percent of Californians voted to go to full-year daylight savings time.

The only catch is that it won't go into effect unless Congress gives the state permission to make the change. (John Myers, The Los Angeles Times)

Published on: Nov 8, 2018
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