Youth is wasted on the startup: average age of a new business owner revealed

Exclusive data from Startups reveals that the mean age of those starting a business in 2021 was 35 years old.

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Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young
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This week, four retired Polish seniors, with a combined age of 284 years old, hit the headlines for their tech startup, Randaemon. But why were readers so surprised to see it?

The ‘Mark Zuckerberg’ legacy of students stepping out of university with billion-pound ideas still shapes most peoples’ image of the stereotypical startup owner.

Now, the Startups research team has analysed the ages of 68 entrepreneurs who had founded a business in 2021.

Our results found that the average age of a startup owner is 35 years old – dispelling the myth that you have to be in your 20s to start a business. In fact, the oldest new business founder we heard from was 61.

Below, we look at what opportunities and challenges starting a business in your mid-30s or later can bring.

Why are you most likely to found a business in your mid-30s?

Having access to early-stage funding can determine whether a startup succeeds or fails.

As evidence, CB Insights recently carried out 111 post-mortem analyses of collapsed small businesses. 38% said the cause of their failure was running out of cash.

This is arguably the main reason that the average age of a startup owner is 35. Younger people tend to have less savings and are more likely to face barriers when it comes to funding their business idea.

Middle-aged and older workers, who have made further progress in their careers, tend to be on firmer financial footing. They can rely on personal savings to fund their business.

Indeed, our results found that the average age of a new business owner who had bootstrapped their business is 35 years old.

In comparison, the average age of those who had used external finance, like angel investment or venture capital, was significantly younger at 31 years old.

What challenges does founding a business in your mid-30s bring?

While also boasting more savings, middle-age founders typically have more responsibilities. They are more likely to have settled down and purchased property than young adults.

With the current cost of living crisis, cost pressures on UK households are swelling. Those with mortgages will be hit-hard by higher bills at a time when energy and food prices are also inflating rapidly.

Bootstrapping a new business – which our research indicates is a more popular route for older startup founders – will therefore also become more challenging.

Earlier this week, Tony Danker, the director-general of the CBI, said Rishi Sunak should step in to try to mitigate the impact of rising costs.

In the meantime, many of the startup owners we spoke to reported using alternative methods like crowdfunding to finance their venture.


When it comes to stories about successful startup founders, the UK media likes to scoop from the fountain of youth.

But whilst figures like Mark Zuckerberg receive a lot of the focus, our exclusive data proves that entrepreneurs don’t need to still be clutching a university diploma to come up with an innovative new idea.

In fact, those starting a business during a career break or while working full-time might even be better-placed to fund their startup than those with fewer savings or experience.

Regardless of age, the key to getting started is proper research into the best business ideas for 2022 and being dedicated to making one work.

Need help starting a business?

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Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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