A look at the profile and career trajectories of some famous tech entrepreneurs makes it a reasonable proposition to question the significance of formal education.
Bill Gates left Harvard in 1975 to found Microsoft with Paul Allen. Steve Jobs completed just one semester at Reed College before backpacking through India and then coming back to build Apple with a mission to “think different.” Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard to focus on Facebook, and the rest, as we know, is history.
Watch : College Dropouts Who Became Billionaire
A look at the profile and career trajectories of these famous entrepreneurs makes it a reasonable proposition to question the significance of formal education, and the notion that if people are young, driven and passionate, they can achieve anything. This gave birth to a myth that successful entrepreneurs are typically young, zealous and nonconformists. The media also loves to paint them as bold risk-takers who had the guts to take on any challenge to achieve success.
While their stories may motivate you and inspire you to throw caution to the wind and follow your dreams, the reality is far different.
Is age really just a number?
If you’re in your 30s or 40s and think the entrepreneurial train has passed you by and it’s too late to launch your own startup, think again. A recent study conducted by the Census Bureau, and MIT professors, reveals that most successful businessmen tend to be middle-aged. This also holds true for the tech industry. An Inc report adds that an average startup founder is 45 years old when he or she launches a profitable business company.
Watch: the right age to launch a startup
These statistics emphasize this dynamic:
- A 50-year-old is 2.2 times more likely to found a successful startup than a 30-year-old.
- A 40-year-old is 2.1 times more likely to launch a thriving startup than a 25-year-old.
- A 60-year-old startup founder is 3 times as likely to set up a successful startup as a 30-year-old startup founder.
The ideal age to start a business, therefore, is much older than the popular myth perpetuated by the media. Why are older people more successful? Are they truly risk-takers?
A 45-year-old is more likely to be well-educated, mature, and have a better understanding of his subject. Not only do they have the actual hands-on industry experience to put their vision into reality, they also have the capital to invest in their company. So while anyone can come up with great ideas irrespective of age, execution can only be carried out by someone with experience.
Why startup stereotypes are misleading
Entrepreneurial stereotypes popularized by the media are inaccurate as well as dangerous. An in-depth data-driven analysis suggests such stereotypes are misleading a lot of youngsters who dismiss the importance of formal education and risk their lives and career for some ideas that may or may not yield results. It exploits people’s dreams and emotions.
Are these young entrepreneurs really risk takers?
If you think that a successful businessperson will put everything at stake just to pursue a dream, you might be mistaken. Successful tycoons are not actually risk-takers in the conventional sense. They are risk-tolerant and have done ample study and groundwork before took calculated risks.
So, it is sensible to finish your education and get some real-world experience before you pursue your ambition. Completing your graduation and working for some time will not only give you the necessary experience but will also act as a solid backup plan if your startup fails. Moreover, it will give you ample time to grow your social capital and find someone who follows your passion and who can help you to realize your dreams.
Successful tycoons are not risk-takers in the conventional sense. They are risk-tolerant.
Always remember education never gets wasted and don’t fall into the trap of venture capitalists who encourage college students to drop out and build strong startups. If you succeed then the whole world will be at your feet. But if you fail then there will be no one to hold your hand.
So, don’t rush out on your entrepreneurial aspirations. Take time for your education, get some experience, and enjoy your life. You still have a lot of time to become a businessman. Even Bill Gates once famously said, “Although I dropped out of college and got lucky pursuing a career in software, getting a degree is a much surer path to success.”