Entrepreneurs: Not What You Think

by Brian Blum on September 22, 2009


As I entered my late 40s, I began to despair that I had passed my entrepreneurial “prime.” After all, aren’t the biggest successes software geeks barely in their 20s. Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg. I founded my most recent startup, Bloggerce, at the ripe old age of 45.

But a new report entitled “The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur” from the Kauffman Foundation of Entrepreneurship says my expiration date has not quite gone ripe. You can download the full report, which surveyed 549 entrepreneurs, for free. There are lots of juicy bits beyond age. The top take-aways:

  • The average and median age of company founders when they started their current companies was 40.
  • 95.1 percent of respondents had earned bachelor’s degrees, and 47 percent had more advanced degrees.
  • Less than 1 percent came from extremely rich or extremely poor backgrounds
  • 15.2 percent of founders had a sibling that previously started a business (my brother heads DrClue.com – does that count?)
  • 69.9 percent of respondents indicated they were married when they launched their first business (take that all you single software guys and gals!)
  • 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.
  • The majority of the entrepreneurs in the sample were serial entrepreneurs. The average number of businesses launched by respondents was approximately 2.3.
  • 74.8 percent indicated a desire to build wealth as an important motivation in becoming an entrepreneur (and I thought it was all about “changing the world”).
  • Only 4.5 percent said the inability to find traditional employment was an important factor in starting a business.
  • The majority of respondents (75.4 percent) had worked as employees at other companies for more than six years before launching their own companies.

Thanks to Dharmesh Shah writing on his On Startups blog for summarizing the 24-page report so elegantly.

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