After studying more than 500 successful tech companies, Vivek Wadhwa, director of research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke University, concluded that the common belief that young entrepreneurs can turn ideas into billion-dollar companies overnight is nothing more than a myth. The media promotes the few rare outliers, but the reality is very different: the average age of successful entrepreneurs is 40 years old. “Twice as many successful entrepreneurs are over 50 as under 25. The vast majority—75 percent—have more than six years of industry experience, and half have more than ten years when they create their start-up,” wrote Wadhwa in The Washington Post. Most entrepreneurs are between 55 and 64 years old, and they are twice as likely to build successful start-ups than those between 20 and 35.
Building something that matters is a marathon, not a sprint. Even the rare exceptions must obey the rules of nature. Google started in 1996 as a dissertation project by two students at Stanford University who wanted to explore the mathematical properties of the World Wide Web. The project ran for a year under Stanford University’s website at google.stanford.edu, until 1997 when the two students bought their web domain google.com. Yet another year later, they incorporated Google at a friend’s garage in Silicon Valley. The founders did 350 pitches to investors before they got funded. Had they stopped along the way, the world today would be totally different.
Worthwhile things take time. Doing the work to transform your dreams into reality is like walking across the earth. It can be that hard, and it can take that long. If you walk from the North Pole to the South Pole, at one point you will go through the desert. It is part of the journey.
When you decide to make your dreams a reality— build that start-up, write that book, release that album, accept that new job offer, move to the new city—you will have to cross the desert. The road darkens somewhere along the way. You don’t expect the desert, and you’re not prepared for it. When you walk through the shadows, remember the advice of Frank Zappa: “There are only two things to remember. Number one, don’t stop, and number two, keep going.”
– from the book The Pursuit of Dreams.
Dr Dragos is the author of The Pursuit of Dreams: Claim Your Power, Follow Your Heart and Fulfill Your Destiny, published by Hay House.
Image courtesy of Cagatay Orhan.