Most people accept that it is normal to have a full time education until your late teenage years. From then on it is time to start building a career.
But does this apply to entrepreneurs? Is there an age limit below which you can’t (or shouldn’t) be an entrepreneur?
Not according to the evidence.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that entrepreneurial skills start coming out at an early age among those people who have these traits. We’ve even asked the question before: are entrepreneurs born or made? I believe it’s a little bit of both. Here are just a few examples: Richard Branson was publishing a successful magazine at the age of sixteen. Bill Gates was in his early to mid teens when he first started to program computers –- a skill that would lead him to develop Microsoft and become one of the richest men in the world. Ingvar Kamprad, the man who created IKEA, started his entrepreneurial career selling matches as a boy. He bought them in bulk and made a profit selling them on in small packs. This bulk buying idea is still seen in action in IKEA stores across the world today.
We can see from these few examples that age is not a factor in the early stages of entrepreneurship. Instead it would seem that the early signs are there much sooner than we might think; it is simply a case of looking out for them and responding to them as and when we are ready to do so.
Age is not a factor!
We’ve all heard stories about young children who have shown their entrepreneurial flair at an early stage. They may only make a small amount of money at this fledgling stage in their career, but the potential is quite clearly there. They have what it takes to meet great success, and indeed there are awards now that recognize the abilities of young entrepreneurs in all kinds of fields.
This is the main thing to remember. An entrepreneur is not just someone who is making money from their own self started business. An entrepreneur can be spotted much earlier in life; their own proper business is just the next stage in the process. Ingvar Kamprad became an entrepreneur the moment he bulk bought matches to break down and sell in smaller quantities for a profit –- even though he was very young at the time. And let’s not forget older folks (like me) who try their luck in business later in life. I’m what you call an unintentional entrepreneur: one who stumbled upon this type of work purely by accident. I started things off as a hobby and it grew into a profitable business. So how (or when) do you plan to start?
How do you support someone with entrepreneurial talents?
When we see someone with a knack for business, we should throw our support behind them. If you’re the entrepreneur in question, take heart: it may be a long road to success, but the journey teaches us so many things about ourselves. Lots of people would be only too happy to tell you to get a ‘proper job’, because that is the path of safety and security. It might have been in the past but it surely isn’t right now. It can also mean undermining your dreams and ambitions, and no one wants to lose those.
We are conditioned to live a life of normality and traditionalism, but if people like Bill Gates and Richard Branson hadn’t taken it upon themselves to follow their entrepreneurial dreams, they wouldn’t be where they are now. There are lessons to be learned from these people and they can help other entrepreneurs to tread their own paths.
Some people are ready to start learning lessons and experimenting with entrepreneurial ideas during their childhood. Other people start in their teens. The truth is that it all depends on when they are ready to start making a difference –- both in their lives and in other people’s.