A few months ago there were a series of articles about how entrepreneurs are over-the-hill by 25 years old. I knew immediately that was not true and articles have since been published showing that statistically, companies started by boomers are more successful.
Here are six reasons why that may be the case:
By definition, boomers have lived and worked longer than their younger peers. Particularly at startups, you will make mistakes. The experienced team members avoid basic, newbie business and technology pitfalls, reaching farther along the path to make new mistakes – the ones you inevitably have to make to be disruptive. If you’re reaching for the moon, you can get there faster with an experienced pilot.
We all know that in business, especially with new businesses, it’s about who you know. Tapping your network is critical to early success and valuable customer introductions. Boomers have networks spanning decades, typically much bigger than those of Gen-X or Gen-Y peers and reaching higher into organizations. You cannot build that overnight and indeed, a great network is invaluable.
Boomers who join startups typically know what they are in for. Either they are financially stable enough to weather the storms or they have made calculated risks. You gain a broader foundation and base upon which to draw when you have lived long enough to have earned a few gray hairs.
4. People Skills
Boomers know how to engage in person, at the cafe and in the board room. You couldn’t “virtually” interact when boomers were growing up. Those real live life skills may be going by the wayside for youth today, but when it comes to developing business partnerships, negotiating deals and even hiring employees, there is no replacing face-to-face experience.
5. Crisis Buffer
Startups offer a truly fantastic roller coaster ride for those who chose that path. Sometimes, it gets a little hairy. With age, comes a mellowness that could only have been gained by knowing that however bad something is – it will change. This is what you learn in life – things change, crises pass. In life you learn, to be successful, one must look beyond near term chaos and pain to the real goal with a steady focus on the end game.
You may be thinking now that boomers are slow and methodical – which can be the case. How then, can that be better than a caffeinated 20-year-old? Efficiency. Work smarter, not harder. When you do something many times in life, you tend to figure out what you can shortcut and what you can’t. You can get 80% of the benefit with 20% of the effort in almost everything. It’s a universal rule. If you’re old enough to have heard that phrase a million times and have witnessed its raw power – you must be a boomer.
Having said all this, the very best company, large or small, has a diverse team – diverse in age, gender, background, etc. You can take any business to the next level if you can leverage the best everyone has to offer with a diverse group. There is strength in diversity. It is a universal, undeniable truth.