I pretty much entirely disagree with Fred Wilson’s implication earlier this week that age is an obstacle to entrepreneurship. It may be an obstacle to a particular kind of entrepreneurship — venture-backed companies where you give up equity to parental figures with money — but implying anything broader than that is silly and counter to the facts.
[Update] I’m taking some deserved heat for having a strong stand here with no data. Sorry, it’s a TV habit.
To bring some data into the mix, the truth is that entrepreneurs do skew somewhat younger than the general working population. But that’s misleading, as it causes you to over-emphasize an unrepresentative statistic. The age skewness in entrepreneurship is much less important than the raw number of entrepreneurs in every age group.
You begin to see some of the preceding in a useful, if a little screwy, figure from the 2006 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report:
While there are undeniably demographic differences between entrepreneurs and the general working population — ignore the GEM’s loopy high- and low-potential differentiation — there are huge entrepreneur numbers in every age group. There is no mid-life crisis for entrepreneurs.
Some more factoids:
- The average age of Inc Hot 100 members is 41, but there is huge spread
- U.K. data shows that while the average of entrepreneurs there is 36, there is little age difference between that group the rest of the working population. Matter of fact, 23% of entrepreneurs there are between 45 and 54