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Are You Too Old to Start a New Business?

November 12th, 2009 by Bob Bly

JR, one of my readers, took exception to an article I wrote saying that you are never too old to start your own business.

“As a young (20’s) entrepreneur, I can tell you that starting a business takes an enormous amount of energy and drive — energy and drive I see lacking in many older people,” JR wrote to me in an e-mail.

In addition, says JR, old fogies are out of touch witih today’s young consumer and especially with technology.

“How can you be on the leading edge of business if you don’t own an iPod, iPhone, Netbook, or Bluetooth?” he asks.

Well, I dunno. I don’t own any of those things. And I started a new business (my Internet marketing business) not too long before my 50th birthday.

Is JR right? Is there an age at which you should just hang up your ambitions, sit back in the sun, relax, and play bridge?

Or can men and women of any age start a business and succeed?


This entry was posted on Thursday, November 12th, 2009 at 4:24 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

78 responses about “Are You Too Old to Start a New Business?”

  1. Twitter Trackbacks for Are You Too Old to Start a New Business? - blog - direct marketing blog [] on said:

    […] Are You Too Old to Start a New Business? – blog – direct marketing blog – view page – cached JR, one of my readers, took exception to an article I wrote saying that you are never too old to start your own business. […]

  2. Stephan F- said:

    Maybe we are too old to startup a iPhone social media gonzo biz, but since they are just a small though loud part of the marketplace, there is plenty of room for me in the rest of the market.
    Sure my business might not be as ‘sexy’ and may not make me the next Bill Gates, it may more then pay the bills and is probably more profitable then yours in the long term. So who is the risky one to back.

  3. Ken said:

    Come on! As long as you still have a functioning brain inside your head you can do whatever you want.

  4. Brett Owens said:

    As a late 20’s entrepreneur, I’d probably disagree. I would have agreed a year ago, when I was cranking endless energy into my startup (for little tangible results at the time).

    A year later, I still work hard, but smarter, so am better able to conserve energy.

    In the early days, I thought no way could I do this when I was in my 40’s or 50’s…now I think it’d be much easier, because the accumulated knowledge would more than make up for any energy decreases.

  5. Bill Perry said:

    In “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind”, Joseph Murphy devoted an entire chapter to debunking the myth that you can’t start a new business (or ANY endeavour) at an “older” age.

    He gives countless examples of people who started even into their 80s building the thing that ended up being their most prominent claims to fame.

  6. Lou said:

    “You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.”
    ~ General Douglas MacArthur

  7. Greg said:

    Colonel Sanders.

  8. Chris Greaves said:

    “As a young (20’s) entrepreneur,…”
    As an old (60’s) entrepreneur, I can tell you that young’uns don’t know everything.
    And if they think I’m going to tell them they are out of luck.
    No Free Ride.
    They can learn like I did.
    Through Experience.
    P.S. It Takes Time! (he added, laughing all the way to the bank)

  9. Jodi Kaplan said:

    My dad (in his 70s) started a new business a few years ago. He has a cell phone, but none of those other things.

    Also, I believe that (somehow) people like John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and J.P. Morgan managed to start and run profitable businesses without the use of computers or cell phones.

  10. William Reynolds said:

    Isn’t it a bit of a stretch to assume that no one over a certain age uses modern communications technologies? Most of my clients, colleagues and networking partners are middle-aged or older, and most of them seem to be as “plugged in” as their 20-something co-workers. I make regular use of logs, online networks, Twitter, cloud computing, iPods, etc., and I’m neither young nor tech-inclined. I just want to be where my target audience is. If they’re not online, fine with me. If they are, then so am I.

    Entrepreneurs are a special breed — survivors. They do whatever they need to do, and learn whatever they need to learn, to get new clients and serve them well. They see age stereotypes as just another challenge to overcome. In my opinion, anyone who is willing to learn and adapt can succeed in business, regardless of age.

  11. Steve Rainwater said:

    Bob – between this post and the previous “Get off Your Butt” post, I think you are inside my head!

    I’m at the end of a few months of indecision whether to start a new business which would require me to learn several new skills (most likely on the fly – which is the way I learn best), but at 48 I have wondered whether I can compete. In past lives I worked in several start up ventures and as JR stated, haven’t forgotten the energy required. Only a week ago I decided to forge ahead and am doing my 25/25/50s while continuing to compose newsletters, press releases and case studies by day.

    I’m following in the steps of good company as both my father and grandfather entered the heyday of their careers after age 50 – my father from electronics to ministry and counselor (still working in this field 10 hours a day at age 78) and grandfather in law enforcement (went from store owner and farmer to a police work in his late 40’s and eventually achieved the rank of captain – I still have his badge – retiring in his 70s.)

    My 20 year old son is setting sales records for his cell phone company and constantly shows me new phone technology. He discussed with me only yesterday how much he could earn opening his own Kiosk in a place in S. Florida that is lacking a certain technical speciality in the biz – meanwhile I still don’t even get e-mail on my cell phone…and don’t plan to.

    Since I also share a birthday with Harlan Sanders (thanks Greg), maybe the future will be bright as I foray into the multimedia business.


  12. Henry said:

    I’m a 24 year old entrepreneur with a ton of energy and drive, but I’m the exception.

    Of course there are people in the baby boomer generation who are lacking that… but have you looked at my generation lately? We’re the laziest, snobbiest, most entitled generation yet.

    Most of the people I grew up with are working part time jobs and living with their parents… or in cramped apartments with 4 people. They wonder when that cushy corporate job is going to fall in their lap.

    Energy and drive have very little to do with age. So yes, you can be an entrepreneur at any age.

    Like everything, it has more to do with how badly you want it than how “qualified” you are to get it.

  13. Joel Raupe said:

    In the immortal words of P.J. O’Rourke, “age and guile beat youth and innocence every time.”

  14. Kyle said:

    There is strong evidence that younger people have a drive that accomplishes quite a bit. Einstein in his 20’s, creative artists like Mozart and The Beatles in their 20’s.

    But as Napoleon Hill said, most men don’t really get to the productive years until after 40, some after 60.

    As for women Grandma Moses sold her first paintings in her 70’s.Oprah is in her 50’s now and she is starting businesses.

    Ray Kurzweil is in his 60’s, Yoshiro NakaMats inventor of the technology behind the floppy disc, CD and DVD is still at it.

    There’s an argument on both sides.

  15. Workshops said:

    Never too old, maybe too young?

    I think the young can adapt more quickly to new technologies and media. Without experience they try to make up the difference with trial and error, i.e. wasting energy, until somethings works.

    I think everyone here over forty would agree with the ‘I wish I knew then what I know now’ line of thinking!


  16. Mariya Lysenkova said:

    JR is what we young kids call “an ageist douche”. In polite company, racism and sexism are out but ageism is evidently still going strong. Disgusting. Sure, older people might have less energy, but they have a wealth of experience to up for it, so they can work smarter instead of working more.

  17. leufrank said:

    I’ve just stepped out of the limelight after years in the financial planning sector. I’m 70 and have decided to take all the financial information I’ve learned over the years and write a series of financial education ebooks and e-newsletter (at different levels of understanding. I’ve been reading and studying with Bob and feel he’s right on.

    If anyone, regardless of age, has the energy and motivation to start something new, I say, who’s to say “why not?”

    I do have a problem however, and maybe someone can help me with this. I’ve been taken to the cleaners on two different occasion to get a website up and operating that would let me build a subscriber base for my financial education newsletters and post my various e-books for sale. Incorporated into the website should be the ability to formulate and send out my email newsletters. Does anyone out there have a suggestion for a reputable site builder specializing in what I want to do? Your help will be deeply appreciated. LeuFrank

  18. Anthony E. Russell said:

    Mr. Bly,

    If I’m not mistaken, Henry Ford was pushing forty when he started his eponymous company. Age ain’t nuthin’ but a doggone number.


    Please contact Christian Russell at the link provided below. Though I’ve yet to do business with Christian, my interactions with him have been very positive and informative.

    I believe him to be a man of integrity and if there is someone who can solve your website problems, without looking to fleece you, it is Christian. I am not an affiliate of his. I just want to refer someone who I feel adds value in his daily practice, in much the same way Bob Bly does here.

    Happy Holidays,

    Anthony E. Russell

  19. Anthony Wilson said:

    Age doesn’t matter when it comes to business. The only important in starting a business is you really want something. As long as you want to start a business, you can make it possible. Of course, you also need to have the ability and means to start at your own.

  20. JackM said:

    No matter how old you are, you are always welcome to engage yourself into business. Honestly, I’m into business when I was still teenager and that made me financially stable back then. On the other hand, my dad started before he reached 50. These two different scenarios that everybody can start their own business at any age.

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  22. Jason said:

    I can answer a definate NO. If a person was ever too old to start a business, and do well with it, then our entire economic system is not only in question but in huge trouble. This is just a thought that has entered peoples minds because of the rampant media portrails of young millionaires; trust me, they are very select few. These stories sell news, they dont by any means represent the majority!!!

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    In the immortal words of P.J. O’Rourke, “age and guile beat youth and innocence every time.”

  25. Steve Manowar said:

    I guess age does not matter if u have a good idea.

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