It’s Designer Dan’s birthday today and this momentous occasion nudged my ageing brain into performing some rudimentary calculations.
The four current shareholders of AppyLab have racked up an impressive 155 years on this mortal coil. We range in age from a youthful-ish 35 to a grandfatherly 43, and we need to be in bed by 10pm most nights or we get grumpy.
The population in the UK is growing older by the day and the impact of escalating pension ages and increasingly brilliant healthcare means than more entrepreneurs than ever feel motivated and able to start a new business after the age of 35. The founders of Workday, the third most valuable unicorn (that’s a startup valued at over $1bn, not a horse with a weird horn), had an average age of 52.
So if you’re not quite ready to hang up your innovative spirit in the retirement home closet just yet, find out what goes on for first-time entrepreneurs who need a toilet break at least three times during any team meeting.
You get more of it right first time, and you can be a bit smug about that
You’ve clocked up a considerable amount of time griping with colleagues about crappy management decisions over the past 20 years and you’ve got a fairly good idea about how to do things badly.
As a result, you know that choosing LEAN above SCRUM won’t make or break your company. You understand that some people like working in their pants from their home office and others prefer to face the commute and come to an office every day. You appreciate that brilliant people wear three-piece-suits, ballgowns, ripped jeans or a wetsuit and snorkel for all you care (you know that customers and investors won’t make decisions based on that either).
So you waste less time worrying about nonsense like project management methodologies, dress code and how many hours everyone’s backsides are glued to their chairs for, and you focus on making things better – for your product, your prospective customers and, most importantly, for the people working with you. Cos if this idea doesn’t work, you probably want to make sure they’re coming along for the next ride too, wetsuits and all.
You get a bit weary about sh*t ideas
You’re far too tired to flog earmuffs for elephants or build an app that reminds you to wipe and flush. Just no.
You prioritise box sets over late-night coding sessions (and that’s OK)
Family matters, friends matter, your health matters. You’ve worked for countless employers who would have demanded your swinging corpse produce a report with three minutes’ notice before realising you’d checked out, and you’re not going there again.
The kids have spent the day earning a feature spot on Jeremy Kyle Junior, your self-assessment tax form would challenge Stephen Hawkin’s mind and Mother Teresa’s patience, and Season 2 of Stranger Things has just been released on Netflix.
Ain’t nobody writing anything tonight and tomorrow you’ll be a happier and more productive person for it.
Your financial aspirations revolve around paying off your mortgage
There’s a remote, nanoscopic, ethereal chance that your startup will end up with a £1bn IPO. Nope, actually it’s not even that likely.
But maybe you could have loads of fun, do great things, be mortgage-free in 10 years and have some brilliant holidays? Happy with that.
You’ll only do this with people you actually like
Even the most ardent Corbynista develops a few conservative tendencies once their twenties have dipped below the horizon. This often results in instant irritation when faced with spending days at a time with colleagues who still believe it’s acceptable to use (or worse still, misuse) corporate buzzwords.
You’re only going to stick with this for the long haul if you surround yourself with people who will join you in sniggering at those who want to “give this idea a gentle tap and see what hatches”.
You fear no wo/man
The years getting good at what you do and being respected for it have not gone to waste. Those years taught you that nearly everyone is hiding behind a Fear of Being Found Out. Almost every director, CEO, VP and other bigwig you’ve sold to, been sold to by, chatted to and drunk the bar dry with, turned out to be a normal person with hobbies, a dysfunctional family situation and a well-hidden but fundamental belief that they are winging this business malarky 80% of the time.
So there’s very little fear left about walking into a boardroom and having a nice talk about what you’re doing and how you might be able to help each other out. If you’re not a good fit, well you had a nice talk and probably a free coffee. No harm done.
Another advantage here is that you’ve built up a network (you probably just call them friends and colleagues) just by getting on with living over the past couple of decades. These people will support you, they have the wisdom and experience to steer you when you swim merrily off into shark-infested waters, and they have networks all of their own that they’re willing to connect you with.
So don’t let your trick hip or your dicky knee stop you from trying something new. Stock up on Tena Maxi Pads and let’s show the kids how it’s done.