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What can potential Gen Z and millennial entrepreneurs learn from experienced entrepreneurs? Everything

by Ana Lopez
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Relax if you’re in your 20s or early 30s and your business hasn’t started yet. The dream may be that you start your small business in your early twenties. The reality for a small business in the US is radically different. The latest statistics from the Small Business Association from 2021 show that there are 32.5 million small businesses in the US, accounting for 99.9 percent of all US businesses. And more than half (54%) of small business owners in America are over the age of 50. When might be the best time to start a small business? Maybe when you are a little older, more experienced and wiser.

Don’t give up on that great business idea or problem no matter how old you are. People who start a business in their 40s, 50s and even their 60s tend to succeed just as well, if not better, than younger entrepreneurs, extensive research shows. A study published in the January 2021 issue of the Journal of Business Venturing finds entrepreneurs who start in their 50s succeed at about the same rate as people who start in their 20s. For example, the founders of Netflix, E-Trade, Zoom and Home Depot were all over the age of 37 when they launched their companies.

The research, which reviewed 102 previous studies each looking at more than 600 entrepreneurs on average, suggests that younger entrepreneurs may be more aggressive and tech-savvy, while people in their 50s often start out with more wisdom, financial capital, and business/network connections. . Some research experts have theorized that younger entrepreneurs have better cognitive skills, are more aware of current technologies and trends, and are less resistant to disruptive change that can be critical to successful innovation. While that may all be true, such benefits rarely seem to outweigh the experience.

So, what can you learn from entrepreneurs older than you? A lot of. Just take a look at their benefits and purposely try to get some of those benefits at a younger age. Find an experienced entrepreneur as a mentor to accelerate your learning process. Here are several things you can do to better prepare for launching your startup by thinking like an experienced entrepreneur.

Industry knowledge is important. Whatever your passion or experience, if you love the industry you’re currently in, really understand it. Stay up to date with the latest trends, read industry reports and meet various entrepreneurs in the industry. Gaining insights and perspectives on potential issues or shifts can lead to your startup.

Domain experience is important. If you ever start a business one day, your job title will not be Entrepreneur. You are going to do something in the startup and your best contribution is to be an expert in that field. Be it finance, marketing, project management or analytics, prepare now to get the best out of your craft. If you might join other co-founders, hopefully you’ll all be experts in your field and form a powerful team.

Your network is key. Gen Z and millennials seem to be a little less concerned with developing robust or deep networks and that’s a mistake. You can’t wait to build a network later when you might need one. Now is the time to lay the foundation for a great network. Look at your strengths and weaknesses; surround yourself with experts to debunk any weaknesses and perhaps gain more insights.

Need a growth mindset. Stanford’s Carol Dweck has built her research life around studying mindsets, both fixed and growth. A fixed mindset says you believe intelligence is fixed by DNA at birth and a growth mindset says intelligence is not fixed, knowledge can be learned. Her research has proven that whatever mindset you have, we all have the potential for a growth mindset. Choosing a growth mindset is probably the most crucial decision you can make as an entrepreneur.

Know your paths to entrepreneurship. While most people who want to start a business think they should start from scratch, there are several ways to become an entrepreneur. One of the fastest ways to become an entrepreneur is to just work for it and learn everything you can. Second, you can actually buy an existing small business from a baby boomer who is retiring. Third, you may be buying a franchise business that already has a good name recognition and just needs perfect execution in a new location.

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