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The Average Age of Entrepreneurs in the Largest U.S. Metros Is 40
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Many factors go into starting a business before a budding entrepreneur might even consider how their age may affect their strategy. But in thinking about financing applications, time commitment and valuable experience, hopeful business owners may want to consider where they are in life before taking the plunge. In the 50 largest U.S. metros, LendingTree researchers found the average age of folks requesting small business loans is 40.2 years old.
“There’s been so much talk in recent years, even going back to the Great Recession a decade ago, about younger Americans embracing being entrepreneurs that it is easy to view it as a youthful phenomenon, but that’s clearly not the case,” LendingTree chief credit analyst Matt Schulz says. “Folks of all ages continue to jump in.”
Using anonymized data from more than 100,000 borrowers seeking business loans on the SnapCap platform, researchers found the metros where the youngest and oldest entrepreneurs are setting up shop.
- The average age of entrepreneurs in the 50 largest U.S. metros is 40.2.
- Greenville, S.C., has the youngest entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs here are 36.4, on average, when they found their businesses. Up next is New Orleans (37.4) and Charleston, S.C. (37.9), meaning the top three metros are in the South.
- North Port, Fla., has the oldest entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs here are 45.8, on average (North Port has an older population relative to the rest of the country, so this makes sense). Up next is Columbia, S.C., and Las Vegas (both 42.1).
- Entrepreneurs may be able to get started earlier in places with lower costs of living. Riverside, Calif., San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston rank in the bottom 10 among metros with the youngest entrepreneurs — and they happen to be among some of the most expensive places in the U.S. Cost isn’t the only factor, though, as New York ranks 13th among metros with the youngest entrepreneurs.
Over the hill, but not under a boss
Twenty-somethings who think they’re behind on some perfect entrepreneurial timeline can breathe easy: People seeking a business loan on the SnapCap platform are 40.2 years old, on average.
Celebrations of super-young business prodigies and accolades like Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list can make it seem that the best and brightest entrepreneurs all figure it out fairly early on in life. However, our data shows that everyday people may be collecting some more life experience before starting their own businesses. Budding entrepreneurs might agree on some kind of sweet spot in life to get started, as the range between the lowest and highest average ages of entrepreneurs in the largest 50 metros is just over nine years.
Where entrepreneurs get started young
The three metros with the youngest entrepreneurs all hail from Southern states, led by Greenville, S.C., where people seeking business loans are 36.4 years old, on average. Greenville boasts a booming downtown scene with plenty of things to do, making it a solid option for young people and folks looking to start a business.
New Orleans’ notorious nightlife scene could also be attracting a younger crowd and helping place the Big Easy in the No. 2 slot for youngest entrepreneurs at 37.4 years old, on average. Charleston, S.C., follows closely, with an average age of 37.9 among its business loan-seeking population.
|Places with the youngest average age among entrepreneurs|
|Rank||Metro||Average age of those seeking business loans|
|2||New Orleans, LA||37.4|
|6 (tie)||Philadelphia, PA||39.0|
|6 (tie)||Milwaukee, WI||39.0|
|8 (tie)||Cincinnati, OH||39.2|
|8 (tie)||Oklahoma City, OK||39.2|
|10||Virginia Beach, VA||39.4|
Relatively low costs of living in the South broadly — and specifically in metros like Greenville and New Orleans — may make places more attractive to younger entrepreneurs, who may have less capital to get started or want to be able to live on the cheap while building a business.
Schulz explains how pursuing a business at a young age may come with some financing hurdles.
Standing out from the pack to be the metro with the oldest entrepreneurs, North Port, Fla., features an average age of 45.8 among its budding businesspeople.
Throughout the rankings, average ages in each metro tend to increase by less than a year from place to place. North Port, however, jumps a full three years ahead of the next oldest entrepreneur populations in Columbia, S.C. and Las Vegas, which tie at an average 42.1 years old.
It’s possible North Port’s large older population — about 32% of residents are 60 and older — could be bringing up the average entrepreneur age.
|Places with the oldest average age among entrepreneurs|
|Rank||Metro||Average age of those seeking business loans|
|1||North Port, FL||45.8|
|2 (tie)||Columbia, SC||42.1|
|2 (tie)||Las Vegas, NV||42.1|
|5||San Francisco, CA||41.3|
|6 (tie)||Los Angeles, CA||41.1|
|6 (tie)||Boston, MA||41.1|
|8 (tie)||Cleveland, OH||41.0|
|8 (tie)||Memphis, TN||41.0|
|9 (tie)||Sacramento, CA||40.9|
|9 (tie)||Detroit, MI||40.9|
The metros where entrepreneurs tend to be younger may generally have lower living costs, but several of the metros with older entrepreneurial populations make for affordable options.
North Port, Columbia and Las Vegas all feature relatively low costs of living, especially compared to California’s metros with comparably-aged entrepreneurs. Contrarily, New York City features the 13th-lowest average age among entrepreneurs (39.5), despite its notoriously high cost of living.
Older business founders may have the advantage of better financial preparation. Savings and good credit don’t come automatically with age, but time does give more opportunities to amass capital and experience.
Is there a right time to start a business?
There’s no ideal time for starting a business, says Schulz, noting that the best time will vary for each would-be business owner based on their financial ability, business skills and risk tolerance.
- Use your age to your advantage. Whether it’s youthful energy or wisdom gained from years of experience, take advantage of the benefits of whatever your age is. “A lot of small business funding simply isn’t available to you when you’re just launching, but you do still have options,” Schulz says. “If you have good credit, consider a small business credit card or a personal loan to get started with funding.”
- Get with the times. For older and younger entrepreneurs alike, technological advancements like accounting software and social media have made it easier to start your own business. “That has empowered many Americans to take a chance they might not have been comfortable with in previous years,” Schulz says.
- Leverage whatever connections you have. Like any major endeavor, you’ll probably have a better time starting a business if you have the support of your community. “Lean on friends and family members for help, be it for their business expertise, financial wherewithal or even just emotional support,” Schulz says. Even if you don’t have decades of networking behind you, your inner circle can be a great source of encouragement.
LendingTree researchers used anonymized data from more than 100,000 borrowers seeking business loans on the SnapCap platform to determine the average age of entrepreneurs in the 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the U.S.
The data was limited to businesses founded within the past five years, and founders’ ages are from the date they founded their businesses.