August 10, 2022 | 04:31 AM

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02.04.2014When to Go it Alone? The Right Age to Become an Entrepreneur

What would you do differently if you could?

Dan Simon, Forbes.com

I ask every entrepreneur I interview the same question: “What would you do differently if you could?” Nine out of ten times I get the exact same response: “I would have started sooner!” This has got me wondering – when is the optimal time to become an entrepreneur?

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The first PR company I started, straight out of college, failed spectacularly. I chalk this up to a simple lack of relevant experience. I just didn’t know enough and I needed to spend the time working for other (frankly smarter and more seasoned) people before I could strike out on my own. Conversely, someone like Jennie Enterprise, CEO and founder of the ultra-fashionable CORE Club, whose  interview I will be posting later this week, started her first business at 13 – yes 13! – and has worked for herself ever since.

On the one hand I have spoken with CEOs like Anjan Malik who gained valuable experience working for a number of firms and then put himself through business school before he eventually co-founded eClerx, a dual-listed KPO provider which today employees thousands of people around the globe. More often than not though, the entrepreneurs I speak with express some variation of what Adnane Charchour, the founder and now very successful CEO of Scivantage told me: “I wish I’d begun my journey sooner. The biggest risk for a potential entrepreneur in continuing to work for someone else is that once you succeed in that effort, it becomes harder and harder to let go of guaranteed comfort and stability in pursuit of your real dream.”

Powerful stuff. Enough to persuade many of us to channel Danny in The Wolf Of Wall Street and quit instantly before it’s to late.

But recent research by the Kauffman Foundation, suggests that entrepreneurship isn’t the exclusive preserve of the young. In 2012, according to Foundation’s study, nearly a quarter of all new businesses were started by people aged between 55 and 64, up significantly from 14% of new business in 1996. Even when they’re not starting new businesses, it appears more people are getting interested in entrepreneurship later in life. According to research by Encore.org – a non-profit dedicated to promoting ‘second acts for the greater good’ - a quarter of Americans between 44 and 70 expressed an interest in creating their own company or nonprofit venture. Even my own father left a lucrative international career at 58 to pursue his dream of running his own medical practice (which the astute readers among you will realize also meant he had to become a licensed medical doctor.)

So, assuming there is a trade-off between garnering enough experience to get good – like Anjan Malik – and starting young enough to stay hungry – like Adnane Charchour – when is that optimal moment to make a move?

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