I regularly read articles all over the Internet about small businesses. It is a subject which fascinates me. It is not surprising that this is the case as I am a small business owner. Not only that, as my business is that of a web designer most of my customers are small business owners. So I regularly seek out new reading material to learn about the experiences and opinions of others who have also ventured out on their own to free of an employer.
One of the sources of interesting articles and discussions is the UK Business Forum. This is one of the most active websites out there for discussions between small business owners in the UK. Today I read an article from a 15 year old who was asking if he was too young to start in business.
This is quite a common question from school pupils and students who are thinking about starting up their own business. Surprisingly, few people write on there and ask if they are too old to start up a business.
So this got me thinking. What is the right age range to start a business? If you are too young you are too inexperienced. If you are too old it might be too risky and your health might let you down. So I started an analysis in my own mind to try and decide where my opinion lay on the subject.
The more I thought about it and the more I thought about the pros and cons, I consistently arrived at one inescapable conclusion...
Now I know that some of you or maybe even many of you will disagree with this. So let me explain my reasoning behind arriving at this conclusion.
First of all, I will deal with why you are never too young. I started my own business when I was 40. This might seem a bit old to some of you to start your own business but start one I did and I think I made a pretty good job of it even though I say it myself! At the time I started I was very experienced in the worlds of insurance and IT. I also thought I was experienced in the world of web design and whilst I was to an extent, I was very innocent when it came to the world of running your own business.
I learned many lessons very early on. If you don't learn quickly then you are doomed to failure. So despite my experience of the world in general, I still learned most of what I know about running a business just by getting on and doing it.
Whilst it might be more difficult for a very young person, there can be no greater training than by having a go. Sure, there will be some barriers such as being taken seriously for example. Also if they are under 18 they might need to put some things in the name of their parents because of contract law. But this does not mean they cannot have a go. If they have an idea in which they believe, I say "go for it". If they fail (and many older experienced people fail), they have learned a lesson which can be useful for the next venture. But if they succeed, they might have many happy years of entrepreneurship ahead.
Even if they are still at school, there might be a small business they can run, especially in these days of the Internet.
I cannot conceive of retiring for any reason other than ill health. I might increase the amount of holidays I take each year but the idea of stopping working bothers me. More time on your hands and less money with which to enjoy it. The pensions time bomb means that many of us will struggle to live on our pensions anyway so we may as well get used to the idea of working.
Ill health might strike me when I am 55 and I can no longer work. But I might be able to go on until I am 90. The truth is, I don't yet know. What I do know is that as long as I have my health, I want to work in the world of commerce. I enjoy it so much and gives much purpose to life.
And if I hit on a great business idea when I am 85, you can be sure that I will give it a go. I might not live to see it until the end, but on the other hand, I just might!
So don't let anybody tell you that you are too old or too young. It's all about getting up and having a go. Whether you succeed or fail, you will probably enjoy the journey and the learning experience.