Opinion: Here’s why Hollywood got entrepreneurship all wrong

Young people tend to fail at launching startups and – NO – you don’t need a genius idea to start a business. A real-life perspective.

This weekend, I was at a social gathering when someone came up to me.

“Idriss, my dream is to start my own company. I want to become my own boss..”

“So what’s stopping you”, I asked puzzled.

He admitted shyly: “I’m too old to start. I should have done it back in the days.” he paused.

Then added: “ You know, it’s hard nowadays to come up with a revolutionary idea”.

Driving back home, I realized how Hollywood has created this myth around entrepreneurship, where a kid in flip flops makes history by creating a billion-dollar startup from the college dorms.

You don’t need to be 20 to build a successful startup. Here’s the real data.

An article from Harvard Business Review shows that successful founders start their businesses at an average age of 42. The average age of successful tech founders in Silicon Valley? It’s 45. Around 30% of these startups have been founded by 50 and above.

So, age is definitely not an obstacle in starting your business.

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur without a “brilliant” idea? You’re 99% there.

What about not having a “ground-breaking”, “disruptive” idea? It’s not a reason either. Think of it this way: Most entrepreneurial ventures are not revolutionary concepts.

The overwhelming majority of entrepreneurs are innovators, not inventors. Entrepreneurs “upgrade” existing value propositions. They rarely invent new ones.

Ideas are over-rated. Most successful businesses come from the scalable execution of a marginally better, faster or cheaper way of doing things.

So, let me debunk this myth: age doesn’t matter AND you don’t need a revolutionary idea.

What really matters to real-life entrepreneurs and investors?

Does it create value in the market? Can I make someone’s life easier with a better solution than existing ones in the markets? May it be better, cheaper or faster?

Does it capture value? Will people or businesses pay for it? If so, how much? What else is out there that might divert value away from your solution?

Does it retain value? If consumers do not use it repeatedly or if they find a workaround then you won’t retain the value you created. And keep this in mind: grow by retaining customers. It is way more cost-effective vs acquiring new ones.

This article was first published here and has been reproduced on MENAbytes with author’s permission.

Idriss Al Rifai
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