When I was organizing (ok, dreaming up) my professional career, I made a decision that I needed to develop two new products or processes every single year. Not a running average- a minimum. If I failed to do so, it was time to consider changing foci. And, thanks to a great deal of luck, I managed to do just that for more than three decades. (Unfortunately, I feel my self-generated onus more and more lately.)
Imagine my surprise, when I was re-reading a 2008 Kauffman Foundation report (Vivek Wadhwa, Richard Friedman, Ben Rissing), to see that, contrary to my (and, I believe, popular) belief, high-tech startups were not the province of the young and single, but the 39 or 40 year old married professional (engineer, business major). And, these folks are more successful than their younger counterparts, because of their accumulated expertise, networking (both peers and potential venture backers), and customer knowledge. Moreover, there has been an additional shift in the census over the past few years. Folks over 55 are now twice as likely to be starting new ventures, when compared to those among 20-34 year range (presumably due to the changing economy and/or the buy-outs offered by larger firms).
Why are we not hearing more about this phenomenon? It probably has a lot to do with the fact that the older entrepreneurs are not part of the Web-based industries, but traverse among the biotech, energy, or hardware technology sectors. And, these enterprises tend to be part of the B2B (business to business) sector, and not the B2C (business to consumer) end.
Actually, this substantiates a credo I have always nurtured: Creativity is the ability to employ a concept or practice in a dramatically new setting. One does not have to develop a radical new concept to develop a creative enterprise. What’s holding you back?