Entrepreneur Success: Experience over Exuberance

Entrepreneur Success: Experience over Exuberance

Do you ever wonder why we read stories about the young entrepreneur making it big? Whether it is tech geeks like Zuckerberg or Gate. Or young investors as bitcoin billionaires they make the news.

The reason is they are the exception to the rule.

In fact it is middle aged entrepreneurs are far more likely to succeed as entrepreneurs at every stage of new business development. Pierre Azoulay (2018) from MIT studied 2.7 million business startups in the USA from 2007 to 2014. The average age of the founders was 41. For those businesses that became the top performing 1 in 1,000 high growth businesses, the average age of the owner was 45. Further analysis by Azoulay found the successful ventures increased for owners over 50 year olds, who were 1.8 times more likely to be in the top 5% than a 30 year old. The owners in their 20s were the least likely to succeed (Somers, 2018)

Maritz et al (2021) recently found a similar result in Australia, with the number of over 50 year old entrepreneurs growing faster than any other age group. Entrepreneurs over 50 run 33% of all startup businesses, that is less than 3 years old. This represents 380,000 businesses, with revenue of $11 billion per annum. Why is this so?

Older entrepreneurs over 40 years old have three advantages. They have social capital (the networks), human capital (emotional intelligence and people skills) and most importantly financial capital to ensure cash flow and working capital. As Maritz’s research of over 1,000 mature entrepreneurs found “older entrepreneurs have accumulated business and life experience, knowledge and skills, social networks and resources that better equip them for success. They tend to have better social skills, and are better able to regulate their emotions, than those younger.” The author recognised that young entrepreneurs do have some advantage. They have lower level of commitments, so failure does not have as big an impact. They also have more time to recover.

In fact many of the successful 45-50 year olds have failed in earlier ventures numerous times, to learn from this failure to come back as an older entrepreneur. Younger entrepreneurs also are healthier and tend to have fewer family obligations. They take more risks, often because they have less to lose.

Both pieces of research find there is no evidence supporting the common view that younger entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed. In fact, on the contrary, it is those in middle age who will endure, drawing on life experience to build their startup idea.

So whether you have a startup idea you would like to develop, or you would like to learn about the difference between an entrepreneur and an intrapreneur, the UBSS MBA Executive Delivery is the program for you. Join fellow mature age students, in a supportive environment of 5 star hotel conference facilities ensuring networking opportunities. With subject matter experts to facilitate your knowledge and industry guest speakers, we bring the world of business to the class room. 


Azoulay P et al. (2018) Age and High-growth Entrepreneurship, 

Maritz A et al. (2021) Entrepreneurship and self-employment for mature-aged people,

Somers M (2018) The 20-Year-Old Entrepreneur is a Lie,