How old should you be to start a business?
29 May 2007 in Business | Comments enabled

This is a question that sometimes gets brought up while I’m within earshot – how old should you be to start a business?

I like to look at a question from another perspective and ask why it is being asked. For example, do they feel they don’t have the skills to start a business? Do they just want to feel comfortable with their choice in not starting by giving themselves what they see as valid excuses? Has somebody made them feel there is a specific age when success is more likely?

More often than not it’s a mix of all of these sorts of points. Simply put, it is never too early to start a business. A business doesn’t need to be a hulking great multinational (great work if you can get it…) so don’t feel you’re taking on too much too early – take your time and learn. There are many lessons you need to learn when going through the process of setting up and despite having setup a few businesses I still learn a considerable amount each time. I’d strongly suggest that if you’re a young person who wants to dig deep into business then start a business just for the opportunity to learn – I did and it was one of the best things I ever did.

The benefit for being young is there is a healthy level of risk – you don’t have a family to support, you probably don’t have house payments to make and you can simply afford to live on less. This gives you both flexibility while maintaining a hunger to make some money to be able to enjoy the finer things. If you’re looking to start a tech business then all the better – young people tend to just “get it”. I’m not saying it’s impossible if you’re older but often I’ve seen older people trying to develop tech businesses that don’t realise that they’re potentially half a decade behind on what they think is new and upcoming. Embrace the fact you’re young – use it to your advantage and learn like crazy while you’re still not putting everything on the line.

Now I’ve co-foundered a company with much more vigor and certainty than before. It just feels right and I’m more confident for having experimented with smaller businesses before.

- JD

P.S. I’ve not defined “young” as everyone has a different opinion. Young to some is 30, to others it’s 15 – it really doesn’t matter what you consider “young” to be, I still believe this all applies.


6 comments. Add your own comment.

marksy says 29 May 2007 @ 18:26

i reckon you’d have to be at least able to communicate with customers and not shit your pants – so my guess is at least seven years old.

but it depends on the person, and the business.

Joe says 29 May 2007 @ 18:38

Here’s an example of a 13 years old CEO :-)

http://venturebeat.com/2007/05/19/elementeos-13-year-old-ceo-highlight-of-tiecon/

Dan says 29 May 2007 @ 22:22

Well done JD for taking the plunge (multiple times)!

As a Dad of 2 little wonderful critters, and having recently co-founded our new business, I can only say that balancing family and startup life is a challenging exercise! Not for the feint hearted (but thoroughly recommended if you’re up for it!!)

traskjd says 29 May 2007 @ 22:26

Marksy:

I can always count on you to think outside the box when I post, you always make me smile :)

Dan:

Given how busy I find myself at the moment I can’t even imagine trying to do it with children! Congrats on taking on that challenge :)

– JD

Nic Wise says 30 May 2007 @ 03:00

I’ve started or been involved with 3 businesses (and a trust), all before I hit 30. Running one in my early 20′s (with two friends) helped me get a good understanding of how things work in a company. It was invaluable (and got me thru uni without much debt :) ).

I’ve also had two employers (Orbiz and AfterMail) who have been very open with how things are run and how the company is going, which has been great from a “how to do (and not do, in some cases) things” POV.

Starting a company doesn’t mean you have to go out and get business etc. It’s great practice for the times you want to go out and make it your full time thing – Fast Chicken has made, total, over the 6+ years it’s been around, LESS then Leonie makes in a year. But it’s been a great learning experience for both of us. Some things we did, we’d go again. Some things, we SO wouldn’t do….

traskjd says 30 May 2007 @ 09:32

Thanks for the comment Nic. It sounds like you and I had similar paths early on and I couldn’t agree more with your points.

It would be great to hear some of what you think you would do and what you wouldn’t do. It’s always interesting seeing the lessons others have learnt so you can avoid them yourself.

Cheers for dropping by.

– JD

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