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  • If it didn’t happen by 19… that’s OK

    shutterstock_110512919What did you come up with when you were 19 years old?

    Did it change the world?

    In case you missed it Microsoft just turned 40.

    Bill Gates was just 19 when he and Paul Allen founded the company. Whether you are a fan of Microsoft or not the vision and execution of their vision changed the world. Most people under the age of 40 may not remember the days when there wasn’t a personal computer on every desktop. They may not remember when you had to wait for time on a computer to do whatever task you wanted to do. Or share the single, sole, and relatively expensive PC that often sat on your kitchen table with your siblings and parents.

    Of course, the world has changed since then. And 40 years from now it will be very different from what it is today.

    You get to have a say in what that world will be in 40 years. Maybe you’ll make the next Microsoft or Facebook or Uber. The great news is that there are fewer and fewer barriers to entry. Your subject matter expertise combined with your passion and enthusiasm can change the world.

    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
    ~ Margaret Mead

    The Good News is Age Doesn’t Matter

    Yes, Bill Gates and Paul Allen had a vision early on. Their vision was to put PC on every desktop. Which they did quite well achieving. Today the Windows operating system enjoys nearly a 90 percent market share.

    A lot of innovation has come along because of the ubiquity and pervasiveness of the Windows operating system. But, this is not a love letter to Bill Gates, Paul Allen and the Microsoft machine. This is a note to talk about innovation and that innovation knows no age boundaries.

    There have been a lot of successful businesses and careers have been founded by people well past 19 years old. A few that come to mind are Kentucky Fried Chicken, founded by Harlan Sanders (aka Colonel Sanders) when he was 62. Julia Child didn’t publish her first cookbook until she was 50. Vera Wang entered the fashion industry after she turned 40. There are countless other examples and I expect there will be many more in the coming years. Especially as Baby Boomers start their second careers as entrepreneurs.

    FACT: Baby Boomers, the youngest of which just turned 50 years old, are starting businesses at a higher rate than any other group of people right now. Source: Gallup

    This is because of many factors. Some of which are related to expertise they have earned and learned over many years of work. Others are related to their desire to give back. And, of course, some of at a stage where they finally have the time to do what they want as kids and other commitments abate.

    As I wrote about here a while back … Millennials Meet Your New Business Partners. There is going to be a lot of coordinate efforts between Millennials, Gen Z and Baby Boomers in the next few years. This is a very good thing as it will take the best of each generation and combine their strengths to create the Microsoft’s of the next 40 years.

    What is the Secret Formula for Success?

    • Find a problem.
    • Develop a Solution.
    • Commercialize it.

    That’s it!

    What you build is not as important as that you start. It’s easy to sit back and think that your idea will never take off. Which is true … if you never take a shot.

    “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
    ~ Wayne Gretzky

    What Will You Build?

    No matter what age you are now you can build something incredible. Whether you are using your hands or 1’s and 0’s the sky is the limit.

    Getting started can be daunting. Find a friend, perhaps a 50 something entrepreneur, that wants success as much as you do. And, get going!

    Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, and K2. He is currently consulting with Microsoft and partners to drive Community Engagement and Alliances. Follow him on Twitter @jshuey or on LinkedIn: in/JeffShuey

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