Is There an “Age Limit” for Starting in the IM Business?

Is there an age limit for IM?I recently saw this question posted in the Warrior Forum. Is there some kind of an age limit for starting up a business online (i.e. getting started in the IM business)? The short answer is, no, of course there is no age limit. That is just plain silly. Or is it? I’m not going to argue that there is actually an age limit, however there are certain considerations that may be important the older you get. Here’s what you need to know:

It Isa Young Person’s Game

A young person's game

No, not that young!

First and foremost, the reason some people may think there should be an age limit is quite simply that most Internet entrepreneurs happen to be fairly young. This is a business where millionaires are made in their 20s and by the time someone is in his or her 30s, they’re often retired and focused exclusively on some kind of philanthropy.

Now that’s not to say there aren’t any older people in the IM world. I mean after all, Steve Jobs, who made a fortune online was obviously older, though he had a different kind of business and started when he was young. There are of course other older executives in Silicon Valley and there are even some retirees who make good money online.

However, all that being said, the majority of people I run into on the Warrior Forum are younger than I am (and I’m only 38). I don’t believe however that this is because you have to be young to work in IM. Rather, I believe it’s a matter of being able to take risks.

The Older You Are, the More You Have to Lose

I live alone with nothing but a dog for company. However, I do have an apartment full of nice furniture and I’m also a diabetic, which means that I can’t afford to simply lose everything and start over again. I need to stay where I am and make sure that I can pay the rent because I’m not moving back in with my mother.

For most people my age, the problems are even bigger – most people in their 30s and 40s are already married with a family and have spouses and kids who depend on them to bring home the proverbial bacon. They have mortgages to pay off, braces to buy for their kids, after school dance class for their daughters and soccer practice for the boys.

In other words, for a person who is a little older, the risks are much greater and thus these people are less likely to take their chances on building an Internet business unless they really have to. It simply makes more sense to stick with a stable job and earn a decent living when you know that the kids need to have food on the table and roof over their heads.

What about Empty Nesters?

You might think that an empty nester, i.e. a person in his or her 50s or 60s whose kids are off at college or even married with kids of their own already would be the perfect person to consider a career in the world of Internet Marketing. After all – they no longer have to worry about taking care of kids. They can simply take their chances and if it doesn’t do well, no big deal, right?

Well in this case, there are other concerns to think about. First and foremost, most Americans haven’t saved much for their retirement if they’ve saved anything at all (the average American has saved just $29,000 by the time he or she retires, meaning that given the average life expectancy, you’d have around $150 a month give or take to live on in retirement).

This reality means that people are much more likely to stick with their old jobs and finish out whatever time they have with them before they retire simply because again, it’s a sure thing. The Internet marketing business, while it is one that can let you make plenty of money is also one where you can lose whatever you invest and then some.

In addition, older people who want to get into this business need to be much more concerned about jobs. If you have a job, especially in this bad economy, it’s entirely possible that you could come back and find it’s no longer available and that nobody else wants to hire you.

Thus making the decision to quit work and start working full time on your Internet business is scary as hell and many people won’t do it (younger people with nobody depending on them can always move in with their parents or get a regular job if things go south).

Even Retirees Have Concerns

Finally, retirees may have some concerns, first and foremost about having to learn how to use new technology that they may not be entirely comfortable with (even I am old enough to have done my homework back in grade school on an electric typewriter. A retiree probably spent at least part of his or her professional career with such things, not to mention mimeograph machines, all of which are foreign to today’s youth).

There is also the concern about money. While starting up an Internet based business is relatively inexpensive compared with other businesses, it’s still an expense and for someone on a fixed income who is just barely getting by, even the investment of a few hundred to a few thousand dollars (depending on what kind of business you start and how much work you do yourself) can be a difficult hurdle to overcome.

Ultimately, It’s a Mindset and a Question of Balance

Ultimately however, the question of whether or not to start up your own Internet based business is much more a matter of your own mindset and a matter of weighing the risks. Most Internet businesses can be started on a part time basis meaning that you can keep your job for example and it’s mostly a matter of being willing to take the risks to actually get things going.

Are You a Risk Taker?

bungee jumping

Well are you a risk taker or not?

That actually brings up the ultimate point about why the numbers are so widely skewed toward younger people in the Internet marketing business. Very few people actually change their personalities as they grow older. They may change somewhat – they may mellow a bit or harden their opinions a bit, but most sociologists believe that what you believe as a 20something is likely to be what you’ll believe as a 60something.

This means that natural selection has already made sure that the majority of the risk takers have already taken the plunge and gotten themselves into some kind of a start up business, based on whatever was hot when they were in their 20s and those who are older are naturally less likely to take risks. It’s nothing personal or insulting– it’s just how you are wired.

For example, if you are the sort of person who thinks that people who would like to try skydiving or bungee jumping are completely insane, you are also the sort of person who is less likely to take the risk of starting an Internet based business. Oh and for the record, I’ve never done either of those things, but I want to try doing both at least once before I die.

The Recession Changes Things

Now, all that having been said, the recent recession the world has been going through has changed matters dramatically. If before most people who were risk averse would never consider starting up an Internet business when they are older, today, with all the problems most Americans are dealing with, there is a great interest in trying this out as a way to make money in tough times.

If You are Risk Averse and Need to Start an IM Business

So, if you are the sort of person who is risk averse and you are older and want to start an Internet based business, then you need to be able to shed much of your fear, though not all of it. Being risk averse does mean that you are less likely to waste your money buying into some phony “program” which costs $5,000 for a weekend seminar where you take notes. You’re more likely to ask lots of questions and not rush to take the plunge.

However, this same trait also means that you are more likely to be a note taker rather than a doer. Too many people buy these courses, take copious notes, come away excited about it and then don’t do anything with what they learned. This again is based on people being risk averse – you have the notes and that was safe. But doing the actually job of starting a business is much scarier.

So, while there is no age limit for IM, you do need to be able to shed much of the baggage that you have accumulated over the past few years of your life and jump in feet first, taking the risk that you may well lose everything that you invest. However, it’s also possible that you could become the next Internet success story. IM is after all a lot like baseball – anything can happen.