Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a five-part series on starting a business at various stages of life.

Q: What should I consider when starting a company in my 40s and 50s?

A: Think entrepreneurship is only for the young? Think again. According to an article in Inc. Magazine, studies found the average entrepreneur is 40 when launching his or her first startup, and the average age of leaders of high-growth startups is 45. According to Adeo Ressi of the Founder Institute, “Older individuals have generally completed more complex projects — from buying a house to raising a family. In addition, older people have developed greater vocational skills than their younger counterparts in many, but not all, cases. … We theorize that the combination of successful project completion skills with real-world experience helps older entrepreneurs identify and address more realistic business opportunities.”

If you decide to start a company, you will want to manage the downside risk. Here are a few suggestions:


The owner of the franchise sells you the rights to their business logo, name and operating system, and you agree to operate the business according to the rules specified in the franchise agreement. Most franchises have an established business model that significantly increases your likelihood of success, and the franchiser is there to answer your questions and give guidance.

Buy an existing business

You can review the performance of the business and decide whether it is something you want to do and can be successful doing. Sometimes you can even “try before you buy” by working in the business first.

Do a startup

If you have an idea for a business that doesn’t exist, there are ways to increase your chance of success. Rather than the old model of “raise the money, then build the business,” more startups are talking to potential customers first to see what they need, starting small and refining as the business grows. That ensures that your business will have paying customers.

If owning a business is one of your goals, this is a great time in your life to fulfill that goal.


Mark Spriggs is an associate professor in the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.