Research Show That for Entrepreneurs, 45 Is the New 25


For some folks, seeing a young entrepreneur like Mark Zuckerberg completely change the world at such a young age can be disheartening as the years creep by. But wait! This is good news for people who feel like they might’ve missed the boat in one way or another, professionally speaking.

A new study led by Pierre Azoulay of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology analyzed the relationship between age and high-growth entrepreneurship. According to the researchers,

“Our primary finding is that successful entrepreneurs are middle-aged, not young. We find no evidence to suggest that founders in their 20’s are especially likely to succeed. Rather, all evidence points to founders being especially successful when starting businesses in middle age or beyond, while young founders appear disadvantaged.”

Azoulay and his researchers studied data from many sources, including tax forms and the U.S. Census Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs. They pored over records from over 2.5 million entrepreneurs who have founded businesses (not including sole proprietorships) in the U.S. since the 1970s. The conclusion: they found the average age of these entrepreneurs was 42 years old.

They also studied entrepreneurs who were active in growth-oriented entrepreneurship and found that businesses that operated in the high-tech sector had founders that averaged 43 years of age, and that founders of venture-backed startups and businesses based in Silicon Valley were 42 years old, on average.

The researchers also discovered that more successful startup companies had slightly older founders.

The authors of the study continued,

“The 1,700 founders of the fastest growing new ventures (the top 0.1%) in our universe of U.S. firms had an average age at founding of 45.0 (compared to 43.7 for the top 1% and 42.1 for the top 5%). Regardless of the measure of technology-intensiveness chosen, we see older founders as we move toward upper-tail performance, especially for the top 1 in 100 or top 1 in 1,000 firms, as well as for founders with successful exits. This evidence is at odds with the conventional wisdom that successful founders skew younger.”

Okay all of you middle-aged folks, get out there and start a business! You can do it!