The Crisis of Mid-Career Entrepreneurs

We started iScripts.com in 2005 offering just a few software scripts to build online businesses. Early on, we weren’t exactly sure who would need our products but concluded that target customers would be webmasters managing a number of websites. Our software made the process easier for them by cutting down on time and effort needed to build elaborate platforms.

After some time, we began getting inquiries from entrepreneurs looking to create online businesses. In response to this, we created web software with customizable business models already built into the software. We attempted to produce internet scripts including optimal business models for each type of business and industry. Once again, we were surprised by the ingenuity and variety of the ideas and plans presented by our customers. The small offering of products that were designed to help experienced programmers had instead evolved into an established line of web apps developed for entrepreneurs from various backgrounds diligently working towards individual business plans.

Derived from experience in working with thousands of entrepreneurs and startups, I can say that many are created by mid career entrepreneurs. These folks choose the path by chance or choice after spending many years in the business world.

In the media, we see many examples of very successful startups created by young entrepreneurs. Most of these prodigies drop out of school or start things just after graduation. Founding teams usually include classmates or college friends working out of a dorm room or parents’ garage. These teams have created world-changing ideas and companies. We have seen this with Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Sergei Brin, Larry Page and Steve Jobs – just to name a few. They tout, the young age and time somehow contributed to the monumental success they ultimately achieved. But I contest, it is the law of averages working in their favor.

Unfortunately, the ecosystem is somewhat stacked against the mid career entrepreneurs. Currently, most startup accelerators, incubators and startup ecosystems found in the West Coast, Midwest and East Coast of the United States are set up to target and enable a young crowd that can live on a Ramen noodle budget every day. Those who already have mortgages to pay or kids in high school usually cannot pound out a 100 hour week like their diligent Ramen noodle counterparts.

Mid-career entrepreneurs require different types of assistance to create businesses. They call for a shorter timeline to launch as well as assistance with a range of business matters. Despite being equipped with massive domain expertise within a chosen field, they still may lack certain skills such as the technical proficiency, fundraising knowledge, or legal familiarity required to start a successful startup.
The mid-career entrepreneur will most likely have a massive number of connections, but comprised mostly of those within their specific area of expertise. Unfortunately, these connections are usually very limited in the scope of the startup world.

Mid-career entrepreneurs require vehicles enabling them to establish and sustain important connections vital to success. At some point, even young entrepreneurs learn that they cannot carry out every task themselves and uphold a long-term business merely on personal eye of the tiger mentality and personal skills alone. While it is initially imperative to have the drive, determination and time to start a valuable venture, it is just as important to grow out and up out by seeking connections. After a certain point, business potential can instead be limited to the capabilities of one individual or a select few.

Since mid-career entrepreneurs can create startups with a higher chance of success based on experience, there is a need for accelerators and incubators focusing on this entrepreneurial sector. These experienced entrepreneurs can hit it big when acquiring a cofounder with complementary skills or discovering teams that can fill the gaps. When offered more opportunity to connect, mid-career entrepreneurs have a huge chance of excelling simply by joining forces to push ahead.

While we should continue to guide young entrepreneurs, we also need to realize the importance of fostering connections among existing entrepreneurs. Those with established experience and specialized skills to make big ideas a reality should be given more opportunity to do so. By overlooking the needs of mid-career entrepreneurs, we are allowing a great deal of potential success to fall through the cracks.