‘Inspiration for entrepreneurs usually comes not from a college program but from what they’ve learned in previous jobs.’
Data is the proof. The Kauffman Foundation study showed that the average entrepreneur was 39 and that midcareer entrepreneurs we nearly five times more likely to still be doing it five years later than those starting right out of college.
The article provides examples from company founders at Allied Signal and Diebold. Both firms’ founders were at least 40 and two were 52 at the time.
As well as bringing experience savvy along with them, they may be more likely to be able to self-finance their business or at least part of it. Companies are missing this opportunity internally.
‘Most managers just don’t see the entrepreneurs right under their noses.’
There is work to be done within the corporate structure to provide opportunities for seasoned entrepreneurs to blossom internally. Higher education can step up as well offering courses which will keep older workers up to date and more able to be recognized within their organizations
A more strategic approach to encouraging entrepreneurship would recognize the demographic reality of who really starts businesses in the U.S. We shouldn’t be carried away by glamorous (and inevitably rare) tales of youthful success in Silicon Valley.
The late Neal Patterson, co-founder of Cerner Corporation, commented,
“So many entrepreneurs are devoted to the companies where they once worked,” said Mr. Patterson. “But most managers just don’t see the entrepreneurs right under their noses. One reason is they think that only young people can start companies.”
Mr. Schramm holds the position of University Professor at Syracuse University. This is adapted from his new book, “Burn the Business Plan,” published by Simon & Schuster.
Photo by: Brad Montgomery