There is so much buzz surrounding today's wunderkinds, it's easy to forget how many people achieve remarkable success in middle age and well beyond. The examples are out there, if you look for them. And if they can do it, so can you.
For example, television writer and producer Melissa Hunter recently posted this to Twitter:
At the end of 2020, instead of 30 Under 30 and NextGen lists, please profile middle-aged people who just got their big breaks. I want to read about a mother of 2 who published her first novel, a director who released their first studio feature at 47, THAT'S THE LIST WE WANT.-- Melissa Hunter (@melissaFTW) January 7, 2020
The stories began rolling in, eliciting a viral response. This struck a chord with me, especially since I founded my company when I was 41. And there are endless examples of people who famously found entrepreneurial success later in life, such as Julia Child, J.K. Rowling, Ray Kroc, Harland "Colonel" Sanders, and Vera Wang.
If you're looking to start your second act, the latest research is on your side. A 2018 study conducted by the Census Bureau and two MIT professors found that a 50-year-old entrepreneur is about twice as likely as a 30-year-old to start an extremely successful company. Here are three reasons to not allow your age to stop you from starting a business.
1. You have clout and credibility.
If you spend enough time in an industry, you establish a reputation (hopefully a good one), which helps when starting a new venture. I started out as a CPA at a major accounting firm, which led to becoming CFO of a company that produced, manufactured and distributed video. I latched onto the distribution part of the business, developed a passion for it, and got really good at it.
When e-commerce was emerging in the late 1990s, I recognized it would be a service with longevity and the potential for exponential growth. Starting up wasn't easy, but the saving grace was that I had already built a strong reputation during my previous life in video distribution. People I knew back then chose to bring their business to me because of that reputation.
2. You have long-standing connections.
With a few decades under your belt, you've had the opportunity to nurture professional relationships that have stood the test of time, and maybe hardship. You know who to trust, who to ask for help, and who to use as a resource for networking.
A current client of mine held senior positions at some of the top beauty companies before launching her menopause-focused skincare line. Because she already spent years building connections in the beauty industry, she was able to get meetings with every major beauty magazine editor. Without those longstanding relationships, she would have had a much harder time securing those crucial meetings.
3. Your experience has built your confidence.
Leaving a comfortable C-suite position to start a company in an unproven industry with no clients and no money takes guts, perseverance, and conviction. I know because I did it. And the main reason I was able to pull the trigger was because I'd spent a big chunk of my career life amassing the experience, knowledge, and tools I knew would serve me well in my new venture. This allowed me to trust in myself and my capabilities, and prevented me from second-guessing myself. I don't think there is any way to gain that level of confidence other than with time and experience.
At the end of the day, your age can be a critical advantage, as your many years of experience can offer clarity. You'd better understand yourself, how you operate, what you're passionate about, where you excel, and what your ultimate goals are.
So, if you think it may be too late to start over and launch that business you've dreamed of, think again. Look at the facts, quiet that inner critic, and make a plan. Take it from someone who knows firsthand: It might be the best decision you ever make.