Experience can be the key to starting a successful business

The words young and entrepreneur often seem to go hand-in-hand thanks to successful twenty-something businesspeople such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg or Microsoft’s Bill Gates.

But older entrepreneurs can have just as much impact and an even greater chance of succeeding.

Elias Borges, a Canadian patent lawyer, says younger entrepreneurs tend to have less money. As a result, they will usually just have an idea for an invention – backing out of the patent process once they found out how much it costs, which he calls “basement adventurers”.

 By comparison, according to Borges, mature entrepreneurs will often use the nest egg they have saved up to get their idea going, continuing to work a regular job while working on their own business.

Mature entrepreneurs have more ideas, but they also have a lot more at risk, with Murray Crane, at his desk at Rail Decks, has had a lot of entrepreneurial success no matter the age.

Photo by Albina KhouzinaAlbina Khouzinafamily and a mortgage to pay. They will often use the nest egg they saved up to get their idea going, and will continue having a regular job while getting the other business going.

Murray Crane, 55, is one such older entrepreneur. He has worked in many fields such as sales and software, and is the current president at Rail Decks, an innovative company that found a better way to transport industrial commodities. Crane says he loves being his own boss and doing something he is passionate about. But he’s careful about where he puts his money.

Comparing older entrepreneurs and younger entrepreneurs, Crane says, “We’re at a different stage in life, so were not going to throw money away, we’re a lot more careful about what we do with our money.”

More time on your hands

On the flipside, “When your kids get older you all of a sudden have this time on your hands and have a desire to learn more, to start over again, that second chance in life.”

Moreover, according to Crane, “It does take a lot of experience to get into things” – including coming up with great business ideas. And that experience is something older entrepreneurs can have in spades.

Ray De Paul is the director of Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Mount Royal University, and says older entrepreneurs usually create businesses that are beneficial to the industry they have worked in.

The connections they made in those industries can help them succeed.
“The days of working some place for thirty five, forty years and retiring are kind of gone” says De Paul.

“People realize that they don’t just want a good paycheck, they actually want to love what their doing.”

“Having your own control, being able to do what you want to do,” Crane says, to make his own hours, but still working very hard and getting the job done.

“That’s where you see a lot more older people getting into it, fifty plus entrepreneurs getting into things because they have a lot of experience, credibility, they’ve got networks all over the place of people who trust them, and they have some money behind them,” Crane says, and a point that was also mentioned by De Paul, that it is the connections that the entrepreneurs have that help them succeed.

akhouzina@cjournal.ca