That’s right, you don’t have to feel bad if you’re 40 and you haven’t replicated the big business successes that people like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg achieved by their 20s. Research from MIT shows that when it comes to entrepreneurship, the average successful business founder is 42 years old. The researchers used data from the Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Business Database and from the Internal Revenue Service and looked at the ages of founders of successful startups across three verticals: high-tech employment, VC-backed firms, and patenting firms. The average age of the successful founders were 43, 42, and 45, respectively.
One of the researchers on the study, MIT Sloan professor Pierre Azoulay, summed the finding up like this:
“If you knew nothing else, and you had two identical ideas, one proposed by a very young person, one proposed by a middle-aged person, and that’s the only thing you have to go on, you would be better off–if you wanted to predict success–betting on a middle-aged person.”
Azoulay’s research partner, PhD student Daniel Kim, went on to say that, despite the myth of the teenage tech genius founder, the study’s findings shouldn’t be that surprising:
“In theory, we know that with age a lot of benefits accumulate. For instance, you get a lot of human capital from experience, you also get more financial resources as you age, as well as social connections, all of which will likely boost your odds of success as an entrepreneur.”
So if you’re 40 and haven’t had that breakout startup success yet, relax. Your best years are ahead of you.