By Jeff Haden, Ghostwriter & Featured Columnist for Inc
Picture the average entrepreneur and you probably think of someone young, living the ramen noodles lifestyle, working a crazy number of hours — and often sleeping under the desk. At least that’s what Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of HubSpot and frequent angel investor, imagined.
In some ways he was right, but in others he (and probably you) were way off. “The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur,” a Kauffman Industry report based on a survey of 549 company founders across a variety of industries, includes a number of surprising findings Dharmesh shared with me. And, if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, the report also offers hope that there’s still a time – and a place – for you
1: Age Doesn’t Matter
The average and median age of company founders when they started their current companies was 40. In fact, people between 55 and 64 have the highest rate of entrepreneurship in America. That means it’s never too late–or too early–to follow your dreams and start a business. Age doesn’t hold other people back; don’t let it hold you back.
2: But Education Evidently Does
Turns out, 95.1 percent of respondents had earned bachelor’s degrees, and 47 percent had advanced degrees. So go ahead and finish school. What you learn– and the relationships you build– will definitely pay off later.
3: You Can Have a Relationship
Just over 69 percent of respondents indicated they were married when they launched their first business. An additional 5.2 percent were divorced, separated, or widowed. In fact, you may find your significant other is your biggest fan and your main source of emotional support.
4: And You Can Have Kids
59.7 percent of respondents indicated they had at least one child when they launched their first business, and 43.5 percent had two or more children. Never forget that there is no work-life balance. There’s work, there’s life…the two are intertwined. And they’re mutually supportive. And, at least where kids are concerned, are always ready to give you a hug when you need it most.
5: You Can Try Again, And Again, And Again…
The majority of the entrepreneurs in the sample were serial entrepreneurs. Respondents had launched an average of about 2.3 businesses. So keep trying. The only time you truly fail is when you give up and refuse to try again.
6: Passion is Important… And So is Building Wealth
74.8 percent of respondents indicated the desire to build wealth as an important motivation in becoming an entrepreneur. So feel free to change the world–and in the process change your financial picture as well. There’s nothing wrong with trying to do both.
7: Most Entrepreneurs are Born Entrepreneurs
Only 4.5 percent said the inability to find traditional employment was an important factor in starting a business. Entrepreneurship isn’t the last option for most people– it’s the first. Even if your first job isn’t working for yourself…
8: Working For Someone Else Builds a Solid Foundation
The majority of respondents, 75.4 percent, had worked as employees at other companies for more than six years before launching their own companies. What they learned was invaluable– both in terms of what to do and in terms of what not do do. If you’re working for someone else, try hard to soak it all in: the good, the bad, and the ugly. And pay special attention to how it feels to be an employee; that way you’ll better understand how to treat the people who will someday work for you.
9: Parents Still Dream of Big Things for Their Children
Entrepreneurs are usually better educated than their parents. So call your folks. Say thank you. Say you appreciate everything they did for you. And then pay it forward by working hard to set your children up for even greater success than you achieve.
10: But That Doesn’t Mean Entrepreneurs Follow Their Parent’s Paths
Entrepreneurship doesn’t always run in the family. 51.9 percent of respondents were the first in their families to launch a business. That means entrepreneurs look past their upbringing, look past their education, look past the paradigms and conventions… and chart their own courses. That finding should come as no surprise to any of us.