I left my successful 30-year advertising career in 2018 to become an entrepreneur (I was the CEO of J. Walter Thompson NY at the time, which is one of the largest advertising companies in the world and the oldest advertising in the world.). In February 2020, together with my co-founder James Hammett, I launched MASAMI, a premium clean hair care company, and in September 2020, I launched Isl e de Nature, a luxurious bee-scented home fragrance. He was 53 years old.
Starting a business is really difficult. One thing that keeps me awake is my connection with other founders who are going through similar things. As we have all experienced, some days are really tough, so having a network is very important to get through those downtimes. But one thing I noticed is that there is a huge difference between the young founders (in their 20s and 30s) and me. The business challenges are different. Different stages of life.
The personal issues they may deal with are different.
For example, I participated in a founders meeting group with six other founders, and they met almost once a week during Covid. I am the oldest one for at least ten years, maybe longer. When we talk about business challenges, most of your challenges are related to leadership and management: how to provide feedback, how to hire the right people, how to motivate your team, and find co-founders.
These things are second nature to me, so I found myself an old “wise man” and gave a lot of advice, but it may not be rewarded. Of course, when it comes to personal life, a lot of people are single, so for them (not me), the idea of staying up late and perfecting it is completely fine. Two of them have small children, so they have to take care of online schools and daycare services (my children are 20 and 18 years old respectively). But I found that while I sometimes find it inappropriate to be a senior founder, it has many advantages.
“The ‘soft skills’ related to leadership and management are deeply ingrained.”
First, there are now many studies showing that older founders are more successful. A 2019 study from the Wharton School of Business found that the average age of successful founders is 45. Not bad.
This makes perfect sense to me. I find that based on my years of experience making similar decisions for clients, I can make creative, talent, and business decisions very quickly, which can shorten many time-consuming steps in the business. I don’t have too much anxiety. If there is a failed decision, I just adapt and move on.
Second, many “soft skills” related to leadership and management are already deeply ingrained in our oldest founders and do not need to be learned. This is not only very useful for team building, but also for intuitively knowing how to attract the right people in the first place.
“Life Outlook is also helpful”
Building self-confidence is also very important. It is much easier when you get older. You have credibility. You know how to acquire talent. Work with someone with a good track record. You can often work with familiar faces, people you have worked with, or people you already have in contact with (and many of us have established good networks over the years). In my team, a high school friend of mine is responsible for managing our partnership and content. I met my co-founder through my husband. My brother is responsible for overseeing all our compliance.
The outlook on life is also helpful. Knowing that your business is not all-encompassing goes a long way, especially when you’re in a bad mood. Seeing the success and failure of your peers also motivates me to see what is possible rather than overemphasizing failure. When you first experience them, things tend to seem more dramatic than what happened.
I have now established a network of other “older” founders (we even have a Founders Over 50 club in the Clubhouse), allowing me to find people who understand the feeling of losing their parents and how to interact with their business. with their squeaky bodies as they age – most young founders have lost all topics, but they are vital to our happiness and sanity.
I encourage anyone considering a future career change to take this step. Of course, do your homework and make sure you have a viable business proposition, but I don’t think it will scare you as much as you think. Many of the skills you learn in this process will undoubtedly serve you in your new career. And you are likely to succeed.
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