Almost all of us think about starting a business at some point. The thought enters our minds when we come up with an ingenious way to stop an ice cream cone from dripping. Or we get a job and realize we want more control over our work. Or we hear about the multi-billionaires of the world and start fantasizing about making our own riches.
Whatever your own motivation, if you’re going to start a business, there’s an ideal time to do it -- while you’re still in your 20s and 30s. Why is that?
1. Long-term potential returns
Imagine for a moment that you’ve built a successful business. It’s profitable and stable and generates a nice six-figure salary for you. Assume that this setup can continue indefinitely and that you enjoy the work. Wouldn’t you want to reap the accompanying rewards for as long as possible?
If so, start your business as early as possible. Yes, it’s an optimistic scenario, but an achievable one, even if it takes you two or three tries to build a successful enterprise. The bottom line is, the more time you can spend as an entrepreneur, the better long-term returns you’re going to see.
2. Risk tolerance
Let’s face it: Not all startups are going to make it. You need to be realistic, regardless of your age. Starting a business demands a lot of up-front investment, in both time and money, and you’ll bear significant risk, in both your finances and your current or “backup” career.
Just as happens in the financial markets, the younger you are, the better you’re going to be able to tolerate that risk. You’ll have fewer responsibilities, fewer commitments and much more time to make up any losses you incur. Therefore, starting a business as early as possible mitigates your potential losses.
3. Energy and motivation
It takes a lot of work to run a startup, too. Don’t forget that. Though not written in stone, the general rule is that younger professionals have more energy, motivation and enthusiasm than their elders.
Maybe you'll be a youthful spirit for the next several decades, but the thing is, you can’t know for sure. What seems like a solid “maybe” idea now may become a “no way” idea in 10 years; and the work you throw yourself into now may be work you'll avoid at all costs next decade. Every year, your energy and motivation will decline. Take advantage of these personal assets while you have them.
Younger people tend to be more adaptable. Part of the reason is that they’ve had a shorter amount of time to be exposed to the norms and rules of the professional world, and are less committed to those entrenched ideals.
An even larger part of the reason is our unique technological age; we face major technological disruptions on a regular basis, and the only way for companies to survive is to adapt and integrate these new technologies.
In your 20s and 30s, you'll stand a better chance of recognizing and incorporating these new technologies quickly; and as you get older, the rate of development for these technologies will grow even faster. So, start a business while you’re more nimble, and you’ll be able to brave ever-more volatile waters.
5. Serial entrepreneurship
Most entrepreneurs who truly love entrepreneurship end up starting multiple businesses, becoming serial entrepreneurs in their own right. It’s as if they were born to be entrepreneurs. And, for the most part, every new business these young people start is better than the last, thanks to their founders' previous experience, growing list of contacts and broader perspective.
Starting your first business when you’re in your 20s or 30s sets you up for a longer period of time to start even more businesses; essentially, you're maximizing the potential experience you can gain, and greatly increasing the number of businesses you can start. Don’t throw away that potential by waiting around. If you need help getting started, grab this eBook.
None of these reasons is meant to imply that you can start a business only when you’re in your 20s and 30s, or that if you’re in your 40s or over, you’ve missed the boat. On the contrary, older entrepreneurs often carry more experience and decision-making abilities and are extremely capable of building effective businesses.
However, the unique blend of advantages that younger adults have makes this phase of life a highly strategic time to start up a business.
If you’re in your 20s or 30s, and the thought of entrepreneurship has entered your mind more than once, don’t write it off as a pipe dream. Dig into some research, explore your ideas and make the most of your youth by pouring your energy into a business. No matter how things turn out, you’ll be glad you did.