Before considering the best age to start in business, let’s remember the reasons why the answer to this question has changed radically over the last decade.
There was a time, not so long ago, when starting your own business typically involved heavy capital expenditure – possibly investing in property, buying stock, employing staff. In short – a risky venture.
- If you were too young you were unlikely to have access to the necessary finance.
- In your middle years (say 25 to 45) those with families to support tended to be reluctant to “risk all”.
- In the years around conventional retirement age, many were reluctant to risk any nest-egg they had accumulated.
Starting a Low Risk Business
Fortunately the Internet has changed everything! Anyone with a laptop and a few dollars can start an online business with the potential to sell to customers world-wide.
With finance no longer the great barrier you can be equally successful online at any age. It’s a level playing field.
However whether you WILL start a successful business is down to mindset and commitment. While their contemporaries choose more conventional ways to spend their spare time, some people (like me!) are just determined to have their own business.
Let’s take some examples:
Young Online Entrepreneurs
We’ll assume that in the western world you’re unlikely to start a business before you reach double figures. But once you hit the “magic” age of 9+, well why not?
My first “business” (more years before the Internet than I care to admit) was selling postcard pictures of celebrities in my first year at secondary school. I bought them from my parents’ shop – at cost price – and sold them at retail price. The profit was a welcome supplement to my pocket money.
It must run in the family, because at the same age one of my sons was successfully supplying essential stationery to desperate classmates who had arrived at school unprepared. It got a little out of hand when the price of a pencil-sharpener reached high enough levels to attract unwelcome attention! The same son still has his own business, but has moved on from pencil sharpeners.
Coming into the Net-preneur era, I know of several successful under-twenties who initially started a successful business based on helping their friends get online; for instance: Selling domains and hosting then help setting up blogs. Success with their friends, and friends’ parents, encouraged them to venture further afield – with ready-made testimonials from happy customers.
While some run part-time businesses alongside school or college, others have turned their back on the conventional “college to work” route and are running their business full-time. The very smart and most hard-working ones have built up a portfolio of digital products they can sell over and over again, on top of selling their time by the hour.
These days, the conventional path from education to work can be rocky. My two sons – despite starting out on the conventional educational path now run their own businesses. The elder held a well-paid job in IT – until it was out-sourced to overseas workers for lower pay. The younger was destined for the world of finance – but the meltdown changed his plans.
Both have highly qualified friends either unemployed or working well below their education level. The guaranteed “job for life” is very rare now.
I know of many successful small online businesses, and youth is no bar to big success as these examples show.
Mega-Successful Young Entrepreneurs
Ladies first: At the very top of the tree are mega-success stories such as Ashley Qualls (aged 20) who has been working with websites since the age of 9. She started her business Whateverlife.com “Best Teen Content On The Web” in 2004 at just 14 years of age. Now she has turned down offers to buy the company for as much as 1.5 million. According to the site the company receives anywhere from 130,000 – 360,000 daily visitors. Ashley is just one example from several on this article.
And who could forget Mark Zuckerberg? In 2007, at just 23 years old, he became one of the youngest billionaires in the world thanks to Facebook, a product he built in a dorm room. When he reached his 31st birthday in May 2015, Zuckerberg’s shares of Facebook were worth over $9 billion. Just one example from several on this list.
The Family Man / Woman in Online Business
But perhaps you’ve passed the 9-30 age range and settled down with a family.
Financial pressures and stresses are probably at their maximum:
- A family to support – food, holidays, clothing, entertainment
- Higher cost of housing and transport then for a singleton or couple
- Fewer hours available to work (or child care costs reduce disposable income)
- General exhaustion from looking after and supporting a family
For those who have a job with a steady income, risk-aversion may also be at the maximum.
You’d welcome the extra income from a part-time business, but it takes a brave family-man to throw caution to the winds and quit a job to launch his own business.
Newly Retired or Getting Ready to Retire?
The image of retirees as “ready for the rocking chair” is completely out-dated. It is said that 60 is the new 40 and that certainly holds true for most of my contemporaries. We’re all still “raring to go”, and with the obligations of family care now on a more voluntary basis, there’s freedom to pursue new interests.
Possible problems here:
- Even with a good pension fund, disposable income may not be enough to fund the extra holidays and leisure interests we now have more time for
- Someone who did not adequately save for retirement may find themselves on very reduced circumstances, or needing to work way past their expected retirement age – IF this is an option
- Retiring with a sharp mind, you can miss having a challenge to occupy your brain, so feel a loss of purpose
But whatever the problem, and however desirable the additional income, who will want to risk any nest-egg on a very speculative venture?
And you probably don’t want to tie yourself up 24/7 when you should be enjoying retirement, so a part-time business is ideal.
Are You Too Young To Plan Retirement Solutions?
At all the above stages of life, there are good reasons to start your own business and equally good reasons why a flexible part-time business is important.
Personally I think no reason is more important than ensuring you will have a comfortable retirement.
Whoa – don’t click away – I mentally “clicked away” when my accountant was telling me all this 20+ years ago and it was a big mistake. Sad to say, the years just melted away and somehow it was time to retire – but I hadn’t made adequate provisions.
A post on my blog explains why, whatever your age, you need to plan your retirement solutions and the sooner you get started the better.
Happily running an on-line business is working well for me, but I urge you not to make the mistake of doing nothing because leaving your retirement plans to chance is very risky and, whatever your age, you will want to keep your new business low risk.
Starting Your Own Business At Any Age
We have seen above that, whatever your age, the Internet has opened up many ways to start an online, part-time business. This can be a low risk strategy when done correctly.
- Market a digital product you create – beware, this requires much more time and expertise than you might imagine when viewing certain “guru type” sales pages
- Affiliate marketing – you, and others, market a product (often digital) that someone else produced in return for a share of the profits; this could also be a service such as hosting websites
- A product based business
You can work from home for all of these options so they fit in nicely with any of the age groups above.
Let’s consider these in more detail.
Creating Your Own Product vs Affiliate Marketing
Having tried (1) I wouldn’t call it low risk. After all your effort and expense the product may not sell well enough to justify the investment of time / money.
Learning affiliate marketing (2) will give you online skills that, when mastered, you can use for any online venture of your choice. Taking a proper training course is highly recommended, otherwise you may waste time and money as well as causing yourself stress. Take it from “one who knows”!
For a more in-depth comparison of these two routes, you may like to read a post on my blog that compares creating your own product with affiliate marketing.
Another way to minimise risk and maximise profit is to ensure that you have good training rather than trying to learn everything yourself – read what I have to say about Internet Marketing Coaching.
A Product Based Business
Many people prefer a product based business to a digital one, but whatever age you are, it’s unlikely that you’ll have the time or appetite for tedious activities such as collecting cash, making deliveries or holding stock.
You will also want to ensure that your chosen business allows you to take a penalty-free break whatever age group you are in:
- Young Entrepreneurs may have school or university exams
- Family Men and Women may have less time free in school holidays
- Those starting a business in retirement will want to ensure they can take holidays as often as they wish with no detriment to the business
I have found a way to build my retirement income, part-time, alongside my present commitments, with a business that:
- Eliminates all tedious admin tasks
- Requires no risky stock holding or large cash injection
- Is genuinely flexible enough to fit round your other commitments
If you – like me – think you will benefit from starting a part-time business to enjoy an extra income either now, or when you retire, there has never been a better time than “right away”.
The product-based business I have chosen to take me into my retirement is Premier Cashback. You can learn more about it here: What is Premier Cashback? . Click to watch videos and read more about building a part-time business with us.
Guest Contributor: For many years Joy Healey has been, and still is, self-employed in the computer industry. After “pension mis-management” left her with prospects of a poor retirement income she started a part-time business to afford the little luxuries that make life more pleasant. However, until now, extra income online proved harder to generate than she imagined – despite her years of IT experience. Learn how to avoid some of her mistakes and read how she is now earning an extra retirement income at: JoyHealey.com