According to this article on the average age of small business owners:

Data from a recent study analyzing small business owners by age shows that Generation X remains the dominant group, representing 47% of owners. By the study’s definition, Generation X refers to people born aged 39 to 54 in 2024. This is to say that nearly one out of every two small business owners currently falls within this age range. 

Boomers (55 to 73 years old) came in at 37% and Millennials (23 to 38 years old) came in last at 16%. 

This is probably not what you expected. 

But it makes perfect sense when you think about it. 

“Research shows that entrepreneurs in their 50s and over are twice as likely to be successful as those in their 20s – something that can be put down to one main factor: experience.” That is from this article on, “50 Plus Women Are The New Entrepreneurial Superpower. Here’s Why.”

When you think about entrepreneurs, startups, and many small businesses, the stereotype is recent graduates (or college dropouts) starting businesses while living at home. Or, maybe after going through a program at a tech incubator. Or after completing graduate school. 

The reality is Generation X and Boomers comprise the vast majority of small business owners. 

I started down this rabbit hole because of my friend Jill Salzman’s Substack post, “for the ageist in you.” She called out you and me and society in this one. 

In my coaching practice, clients of all ages have told me with absolute certainty that they are too old to do whatever they want to do. I have heard new college graduates say they feel like they are failures because they aren’t going to graduate school to be a doctor or lawyer like their classmates.

Clients in their 40s will tell me despondently that they can’t upskill and switch job functions or change industries. They believe they are aged out when they are, in fact, in their prime earning years! 

Clients in their 50s will talk about wanting to find the runway job that will take them through retirement. This is the ultimate wet blanket, in my experience. It flatlines their job search and stops them from following their curiosity and passion. 

I absolutely loved what Salzman said: 

If you think you waited “too long” to create a successful career, think again. You weren’t ready then. You’re ready now.

If you’re sure that you’ve been wasting your time, spinning your wheels, chasing your tail, falling behind, running in circles, or missing the boat, that’s a story you’ve convinced yourself is real. It might be time to rewrite the story.

Feel free to substitute “start a business” for “create a successful career.” 

You’re not too old and it’s not too late. Start now. 

Photo by Microsoft 365 on Unsplash