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It's never too late to become an entrepreneur (dailybreeze.com)
59 points by Wista 1697 days ago | hide | past | web | 18 comments | favorite

I'm happy that there are people in their late ages still doing entrepreneurship. But I wonder how are they managing the life of an entrepreneur with a family to feed, bills to pay, and age related issues (like energy decline). As I know life of an entrepreneur in a startup is very tiring and lack of sacrifice. So I wonder how they are doing it.

It is also my reason why I wanted to start at an early age. I still don't have a family to feed. No housing, electricity, water bills to pay because I can still live with my parents. And I still have the energy because I'm still young. With it, I can focus solely on my aim which is building a startup/company.

I'm 33, have two kids, mortgage and have recently left my job to freelance while I bootstrap a startup. Here my take on it:

1. Seed capital seems largely useless, my lifestyle is very modest but the realities of childcare and mortgage mean my living expenses are higher than for your typical 20-something. The sums of money available at an early stage wouldn't last long enough to build an MVP, demonstrate traction, then find an angel. I'd have to go back to freelancing, only then I'd have an investor on my back. Bootstrapping seems like the only real option.

2. Having worked for 14 years as a developer then manager, I have a pretty good professional network. I've been pleasantly surprised by how easy its been to get work that fits round my startup work. I'm booked till Apr 2013 and turning gigs down at the moment.

3. Having kids is a huge time commitment. I simply cannot work at the office for 80 hours or more like some startup people do. However, I share an incubator space with some people like that and without wanting to sound in any way arrogant, I've realised that (a) my time constraints force me to focus really hard, I put in 50 really focused hours a week whereas they sometimes kick back and chat for a while because their energy is low, and (b) I have a lot more experience than them so I'm able to move faster than them on things like how to prep for a meeting with a potential partner or how to architect a system for the future. I think of it like this: if I can't leverage my ten years extra experience on these people to match their output in less time, then I deserve to go bust.

3. Energy: I'm doing what I love, I have all the energy I need.

Basically, you have to be a different kind of entrepreneur, some wouldn't call my product a "startup" because it isn't (yet) a shoot for the moon type venture, but I'm still 'starting something up' and it's still an exciting challenge :)

Very good points d4nt, 1. The unmentionable (elephant in the room) to investment is that typical Investors tend to look for 10x payback, that orients all future business decisions. Getting outside capital has one value in my mind, enables capturing a market quickly that has the potential to scale up fast and has a high ceiling. I too am working on bootstrapping while in another job (In an Enterprise B2B play), I'm 55yrs, my first customer is in negotiation with me, a Fortune 50 company) and this is pre-product. My plan is to fund via Customer investment... 2. My network has also been great. Need to talk with 4-5 Fortune 50 companies? Found them in my LinkedIn network. 3. Totally agree here, life is more than work, as much as you may love it. Ryan Carsons Blogs is excellent, and he's a very balanced person and build a great company (http://ryancarson.com/about). Some great tips about work life balance and focus. 3. Energy is about passion, not physical endurance!!

> if I can't leverage my ten years extra experience on these people to match their output in less time, then I deserve to go bust.

That's a gem. Experience is worth about 40 hours per week or so ;)

Good insights sir, thank you. :)

I'd probably leave the energy variable completely out of the equation. Motivation and focus are probably more relevant to the question at hand and it's not difficult to find 'old' people who at the very least 'appear' to have more energy than most young people (but perhaps they are simply using the energy that they do have more wisely).

Likewise, any advantages of age are going to come with the individual and not the year said individual was born.

Full Disclosure: I'm neither old (depending on your definition I suppose) nor an entrepreneur (again...).

All good points, but what about someone in my situation, kids all old enough and have left home, location independent, low cost living base, 30 years of hard won experience across both failed startups and amongst Corporates (like IBM and Microsoft)? Energy is a big one, but I find this mostly psychological not physical?

Money is actually the least of the problems. If you are older, you anyway need to plan that you might be out of job for at least one year. Unfortunately, for programmers, if you get older (40+) it is very hard to find a new job in same field due to ageism. So either you take control of your destiny or you pray.

So if you are in 40s and worked for big corporations as senior engineer / manager you should have about 100K in savings (assuming you save save about 5K a year of your 150K salary).

Regarding kids, yes that is a big responsibility but also something you don't get tired doing.

Money to pay the bills may be less of an issue because by that age the investments made as a youth start to return a decent income all on their own.

Good catch. Maybe those entrepreneurs she's talking about are those who have pretty good savings, benefits, or retirement pays. But a paragraph in her article said...

"Many older adults are having difficulty becoming re-employed. On average, it takes them about one year and often that new job is at a lower salary with fewer benefits, and part time rather than full time. With an uncertain economy, job shortages in many areas, skill mismatches, ageism and companies doing more with less -- the challenges are real."

In my understanding, she is somewhat encouraging those older adults to have a startup/small business/company. But she's encouraging those older adults that are in need of money (like to pay the bills) thus don't have that savings to start one.

the single best sentence in the whole text

"Seeing what everybody does, thinking what nobody does."

i would change it a little.

Seeing what everybody does, thinking what few do, executing like noone else

The way Schrodinger said it

"Thus, the task is, not so much to see what no one has yet seen; but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees."

well yes, in his context seeing is the idea and, thinking is the execution, which might amount to written proof or the likes.

I agree, I think another way to put it (to quote someone else), an idea is worth $20. I think execution of an idea (with pivots off early customer insights), brings it!

This is interesting given the article that appeared just yesterday on age bias in Silicon Valley [1]. I'd be inclined to think that the ageist mentality probably doesn't extend to the rest of the entrepreneurship world, although I have absolutely no evidence to support that.

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4838215

Being pushed to entrepreneurship is very different from making business as a personal choice. If you can do business, start early. When you are old, you have almost no time to learn from mistakes.

Curious to see what percentage of the entrepreneurs in this study are starting 'small businesses' versus 'startups'.

Didn't Steve Blank peg it at 99.7%?

Small businesses: anything that doesn't grow at 6% per week and that doesn't have an incubator and a VC on board?

It's quite possible to create a business that does several tens of millions in turnover and employs 100 people or more.

It happens all the time and those businesses are started by a wide variety of people when it comes to age, gender, ethic background, location and so on. These companies are the economic backbone of many civilizations.

Corporations are complex surfaces along many axis changing dramatically during their lifespan, there isn't such a thing as a clear dividing line between one group and another, only vague clustering and shifts.

At one point during its lifespan Kodak was a small business, then a start-up, then a Fortune 500 company, then ripe for disruption and now they're dead. Calling a company a start-up is like calling a person a baby throughout a large portion of their life. A start-up is a phase, not an endpoint.

Some people don't start out to do a start-up according to the SB or PG definition but find out after the fact that that was just what they ended up with.

Some people start out to do just that and end up with a small business. It isn't all black and white, there are lots of shades of grey and there is a lot less control by the participants than you might be led to believe.

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