Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 6th 2016 Contents Q: I'm considering a
career change. As I
am getting on in
years, I was
wondering: Is there
a cut-off point at
which people should remain
where they are and not try to
pursue other interesting
--- Joseph Peters
Henry Ford didn t start the Ford Motor Com-
pany until he was 40. Reid Hoffman didn t
go public with LinkedIn until he was 43. Ari-
anna Huffington launched the hugely suc-
cessful Huffington Post at 55. I m 66 and
the founder of a company that deals in space
While those entrepreneurs were middle-aged when they
found success---young whippersnappers compared to me---I
know there are many people out there my age and older who
are just getting started on their entrepreneurial careers. Age
is not important in entrepreneurship; what matters most is
a willingness to follow your passion.
It may come as no surprise to readers that I m writing this
on a rest day along the trail of the Virgin Strive Challenge.
Our team has been busy hiking, cycling and swimming hundreds
of miles across Italy. I m here with my family, friends and
many people from various companies within the Virgin group,
all of whom decided to say "Screw it, let s do it," and go on
the adventure of a lifetime. There have been some crashes
(my son, Sam, survived a very nasty fall recently) and a few
tears and injuries, but there has also been lots of joy and
laughter and we ve gained an enormous sense of achievement
along the way.
The goal of the Virgin Strive Challenge is to raise money
for Big Change, a funder for charity projects that help young
people, but it s also about pushing yourself to do something
that you didn t think was possible. We ve been reminded along
the way that growth happens when you step outside your
comfort zone, and you can accomplish truly extraordinary
things when you have others support.
I ve also learned that there is no cut-
off point for trying new things. The far-
thest I had ever bicycled before this chal-
lenge was 19 miles---now I ve managed
to cover hundreds in a matter of weeks!
So here s my question, for you, Joseph:
Can t the same lessons can be applied
to your career?
No one should ever feel like they re
stuck in their situation, or that they have
to settle for what they ve got because they re a certain age.
If you think that going into business would be rewarding, by
all means, do it. My decision to pursue only endeavors that
I find rewarding has helped to make Virgin successful. As I
have written before, when my friends and I were young, music
was our passion, so our first business, Virgin Records, was
conceived out of our hope of immersing ourselves in our hob-
bies---namely, listening to music, going to shows and hanging
out with rock stars.
As we matured, our interests changed. Years later, our team
became fascinated with air travel, so we launched Virgin
Atlantic. These days we re interested in opening up space
travel to ordinary people, so we ve launched Virgin Galactic.
All an entrepreneur really needs to enter a new industry is
a willingness to learn. We ve started many, many companies
over the past 40 years, in completely different industries; run-
ning each one of them requires completely different kinds of
expertise. Understandably, we ve had to innovate constantly,
and I ve learned many new skills along the way.
One thing that I ve never done is to separate work and play.
It s all the same, and I feel that if you can create this sort of
mindset, then a career change, or even a physical challenge,
is more likely to work out, no matter how old you are. Just
remember: Progression and development won t just land in
your lap---you have to get out there and make things happen.
The bottom line: If you re enthusiastic and motivated about
starting a business or learning a new skill, go for it! I receive
many messages from young entrepreneurs asking if they re
young or too inexperienced to get started, and I offer them
the same advice that I do older entrepreneurs: Follow your
passions---you ll learn as you go.
(Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group and
companies such as Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin
Mobile and Virgin Active. He maintains a blog at
www.virgin.com/richard-branson/blog. You can follow him
on Twitter at twitter.com/richardbranson. To learn more
about the Virgin Group: www.virgin.com.)
(Questions from readers will be answered in future
columns. Please send them to Richard.Branson@nytimes.com.
Please include your name, country, email address and the
name of the Web site or publication where you read the
OCTOBER 6 • 2016 www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG13
Never too old
Think you're too old to be an entrepreneur? You're not!
If you're interested in launching a business later in life,
keep these tips in mind:
--- Passion is key: If you're passionate about your busi-
ness, age is not important.
--- Be willing to learn: Innovation never stops. Embrace
new skills with enthusiasm.
--- Mix work and play: Your business should be about
doing something you love.
Links Archive October 5th 2016 October 7th 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page