Is there a best age to start a business?
Who has the right to say when that best age is to start a business?
Does the timing come down to how much experience you have? or the place where you are in your personal life? or the network that you’ve built?
What goes into factoring when is the best age to start a business?
This is a question that I’ve thought about from time to time and have heard others provide their feedback on.
My Experience in Starting Businesses
I started my first business when I was 16 years old. It was a landscaping business that I ran out of my childhood home with the majority of my clients being within walking distance so it was easy for me to bring my lawnmower, weed wacker, and gas along with me.
I was able to turn the business into a regular stream of income for me as I went through high school servicing sometimes up to 10 customers per week. It was a great look into the world of entrepreneurship for me and I would not have come up with the idea had my first job not been with my cousin who had built an even bigger landscaping business.
I started my second business while in college at the age of 20. With school almost over, I was able to attach myself a bit more to this one and really ride the entrepreneurial wave. For 4 years, I built up the business with my partners to sell over $25 million online. It was an extremely eye opening experience that I don’t think I could have had if I went to a traditional corporate job out of college.
I started my third business at the age of 25. I was a bit more mature and entering a new stage in my life. I had learned lessons from the first two businesses that I started and I was determined to make the third one really count. Make it a business that could survive in the long run and that didn’t depend on anything else than my hard work.
If you can’t see the trend yet, I’ll be starting businesses for my entire life…teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and even in my 70s. It’s what I’m passionate about and the way that I prefer to live my life.
But that doesn’t answer the question,
What is the best age to start a business?
Factors to Consider When Determining the Best Age to Start a Business
Without a framework to approach this question, anyone’s answer would be very arbitrary.
Some may think that it’s obvious that you should start a business as early as possible because you have much less risk when you are younger, but does that business have less chance of success because you are so young?
Similarly, others may think that you should gain valuable experience in the corporate world for 5 to 10 years and hone your skills before starting a business so that you are fully prepared to be an entrepreneur.
No one answer is right and so I turn to look at factors that may impact which age is best to start a business.
Factor #1: Risk
There is always risk when starting a business. Whether you’re in your 20s or you’re in your 50s, there is always a risk that starting a business won’t work out.
The question becomes, when is the best time to take that risk and when can you most afford it?
Personally, I think that this factor of risk favors starting a business in your 20s or early 30s as you don’t have much at risk yet. You most likely don’t have a family yet, you may not be married, and you don’t have a significant amount of money that you’re risking by putting it into the business.
If you’re older and already have a family that is depending on your income, it is a much larger risk to quit your job to start a business. If it all goes to shit, you’re in big trouble and you end up crawling back to a full time job.
Conclusion: With risk, it’s best to start a business when you are in your 20s and early 30s.
Factor #2: Personal Life
Your personal life drastically changes throughout the decades that you’re alive.
In your 20s, you’re living life to its fullest. Maybe you’re in college or just recently graduated or bouncing around the world enjoying the world of traveling. You’re in that wanderlust stage where anything goes and nothing is too detrimental to your mental health.
In your 30s, you start to think about settling down a bit. Maybe financials becomes more important as you think about getting married and starting a family. Maybe you start to look at purchasing a home…which stations you more in one place and brings you down to a regular flow of life.
In your 40s and 50s, you may have young kids that you’re responsible for raising and watching over. In this period of your life, your time shrinks and you put your family first.
In your 60s and 70s, you’re reaching the point of potentially retiring, but you are also gaining more time in your daily life. The kids are out of the house, you may be getting close to retirement which means you have all the time in the world. But you get tired more easily and your mind isn’t as nimble as it was back when you were in your 20s and 30s.
Do you see how your personal life can impact when may be the best age to start a business?
Now, keep in mind that everything I outlined is all in very general terms. You may choose to never have kids and therefore have all of the time in the world all throughout your life. So, the extremities of the above situations can of course impact when is the best time to start a business.
Conclusion: Based off of how the general personal life flows, I can conclude that the best time to start a business would be in your 20s and 30s or 60s and 70s. This is when you have the most time and you are willing to take risks.
Factor #3: Investment Required
If you are fronting the money to start the business, then you need to consider when having that money is most ideal.
In your 20s and 30s, you most likely don’t have a significant amount of money saved yet so it would be harder to toss $25,000 to $50,000 into starting a business in the first year of operations. Not saying that you can’t start small and gradually grow, but it’s something to consider.
In your 40s and 50s, you may have more money where you feel more financially secure from your 10-20 years of a full time job. So, in this case, a financial investment may be less of a burden because of the saving that you’ve done.
And in your 60s and 70s, it really depends on your situation. At this point, you start to think about having enough money for the rest of your retirement so if you’re cutting it close, you may not have the financials to invest or feel comfortable doing it. However, if you’ve had a very successful career, then maybe you do have the extra money to invest into a business idea.
Conclusion: Based off this factor, I can conclude that your 40s or 50s is probably the best age to start a business given that your cash situation should be highest therefore creating the least risk.
Conclusion: Best Age to Start a Business –>20s or 30s
When looking at all of these factors and reflecting on my personal life, I have to conclude that the best age to start a business is in your 20s and 30s…before life really hits you.
In your 20s and 30s, you can take risk. You can fail and learn from what you did wrong. You can find mentors and ask them to help you along the way. You can go after something that you’re passionate about and see if it works out for you.
In your 20s and 30s, you’re hungry. You don’t know exactly what you want to do, but you know what your passions are. You don’t know how to necessarily start a business and build it into a $100 million dollar company, but you know that you’re a hustler and that you want to give it a shot.
In your 20s and 30s, you don’t have anything to hold back and so you’re not afraid. It’s all an experience that you can embrace, learn from, and hopefully turn into a business mindset that you can then apply throughout the rest of your life.
I don’t see any value in waiting to start your first business if you are already thinking about it in your 20s and 30s.
Sure, it can help to hone your skills in a full time employee situation, but you can also do that while being a full time entrepreneur and you’ll learn even more and faster.
As an entrepreneur, you’re exposed to all facets of starting, running, and growing the business. You naturally apply the skills that you’ve created in the first 20 to 30 years of your life and then you hone the others as you start the business.
And hell, if you just find yourself to be a complete dummy at a certain part of the business, you find someone else that is smart and that believes in the company that you’re building.
Disclaimer: My conclusion that your 20s or 30s is the best age to start a business does not mean that you can’t start a business in your 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s. Like I said at the beginning of this article, I’m going to be starting businesses throughout my entire life and I plan on making each on a success that I can learn from, financially benefit from, and make an impact on others. My conclusion just simply states that your 20s or 30s are the best age to start a business based off of the factors that I outlined.