I was visiting the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation recently and browsed through some of their literature about entrepreneurs. While so doing, I came across some statistics that were quite interesting. Based on that, let me throw a quick quiz at you: Over the past decade, which age bracket has produced the largest amount of entrepreneurial activity?
If you selected the youngest age bracket, you would be in large company. Many people affirm the youngest generation is the source of most new businesses lately. However, the majority is not always right and in this case, you would be wrong.
It turns out the 55–64 age bracket is the strongest source of entrepreneurial activity. The 20–34 age bracket is the weakest source. Now do not let that comparison in any way disparage your assessment of the millennials. We also know 54% of the millennials want to start a business or have already started one. Nevertheless, it is the more mature demographic group that has surpassed the millennials’ output.
I see many reasons for these differences. For one, as we can all relate to or remember, many times youthful enthusiasm’s vigor is dimmed by youth’s insecurities. On the other hand, the older more experienced demographic simply has more resources upon which to draw—and draw they obviously do.
Another reason is in spite of the Bill Gates stories, most millennials recognize the wisdom of sticking to a more conventional college-education focus in their early years to build a better base for all future business endeavors, whether purely entrepreneurial or not. Having that sheepskin carries them a long way, and they know that.
Whether it is the millennials, the baby boomers or anyone in between, entrepreneurial activity is a marvelous win for everyone. For example, from 1980 to 2005, companies less than five years old were responsible for all net national job growth. That is a powerful statistic.
Do not make any assumptions about who our entrepreneurs could be or should be. Rather, let us affirm anyone who puts it all on the line to help drive our economy.