To be an entrepreneur, you have to navigate lots of unknowns, and the path is fraught with risk. Once you are past a certain mental age, you know too many of the things that can go wrong, so you never start. Sort of like the old saying that if we didn’t have young men to fight our wars, we could achieve world peace in no time.
People who are young, or young at heart, either don’t know all the negatives or don’t worry about them. The result is that they achieve things that no one else ever thought possible. That’s the definition of a true entrepreneur. Many people, including Mike Michalowicz, in his highly irreverent book, “The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur,” have identified specific reasons for this:
- Resilience. Youth brings an ability to rebound that many people lose with age unless they remain young at heart. This resilience allows you to bounce back after defeat and try again, unscathed. The entrepreneurial path is littered with pitfalls and roadblocks; you need the capacity to come back again and again relentlessly.
- No false pretense. The young foresee many more possibilities and great experiences ahead. As a young person, your life IS still ahead of you. The best part is, you can determine just how great a ride it will be. In fact, at any age, your life isn’t over yet. Smart people are still determined to make it a great ride, rather than a sickening spiral downhill.
- Responsibility pressures. Most young people fresh out of college don’t have children and spouses to support, so they can put real focus into launching a company. Later in life, when the kids are grown and gone, someone young at heart can again focus on dreams without overwhelming responsibilities.
- Energy and passion. No question, a young person has more energy than an older person. Likewise, a person at any age who is living their passion as tremendous amounts of energy. Those who are young at heart feel the same passion, and can even use their experience to do the same job with less energy.
- No preconceived notions. Young people, in general, are far more willing to try something new. As we age, we often look back at our younger years and can’t believe the crazy things we tried. But it’s never too late for some to be young, be crazy, and launch a company.
- Not schedule driven. One of the first freedoms that most young people enjoy is to ignore conventional schedules. They may party all night and work all day, or the other way around. Getting away from large company schedules is also one of the key reasons that experienced professionals jump ship to start their own company.
- Money isn’t a big deal. Since most young folks have yet to experience what it’s like to have lots of money, going without isn’t perceived as much of a hardship. On the other end of the spectrum, most people learn that money doesn’t mean happiness. The motivation to follow your dream actually can keep you young at heart.
There is plenty of evidence that raw intelligence and advanced degrees are not the keys to success as an entrepreneur. What does matter are how smart you believe you are, how talented you believe you are, how driven you are, how focused you are, and how persistent you are. These are the domain of the young at heart, at any age.
Launching a business is about surviving and doing it intelligently. If you have the will, there is a way. Being young or young at heart makes it even easier. As Mike Michalowicz would say, all you need is to get down to business. NOW!