The Big Role Older Entrepreneurs Play in Business Innovations
Entrepreneurs over 55 are among the most active new business owners in America, starting companies at rates that exceed their younger peers. In fact, 80% of small business owners are over 45, according to the New York Federal Reserve.
With a wealth of knowledge gained over years of experience, older Americans are well positioned to put that experience to work building businesses of their own making. And with the average American living well past the traditional retirement age of 65, many start businesses to extend careers or, in some cases, to try a path not taken earlier in life.
Even coming out of the pandemic, older entrepreneurs are better positioned than their younger counterparts to succeed.
What’s not as obvious is the role that older entrepreneurs play in producing innovations.
For a whole host of reasons, the narrative of innovation — especially in the tech economy — centers on younger entrepreneurs. Paul Graham, an investor in entrepreneurs and a co-founder of the famous Silicon Valley business accelerator, Y Combinator, once quipped that “the cutoff in investors’ heads is 32… After 32, they start to be a little skeptical.”
This certainly maps to how the media typically portrays startup founders. But a closer look tells a different story.
“When I’m old and dying, I plan to look back on my life and say ‘wow, that was an adventure,’ not ‘wow, I sure felt safe.’” – Tom Preston-Werner, co-founder Github
Senior Entrepreneurs: 5 Things to Keep in Mind When Starting a New Business Over 50
You’ve probably noticed them. Very likely, you’re one of them yourself…a baby boomer who is approaching retirement age (or is even well past it). But if you’re like many over the age of 50, you may be feeling the itch to start a business and go looking for new opportunities and untapped markets.
And why not? People over 50 have a host of things working in their favor, from decades of work experience to a valuable network of connections to the financial resources needed to start and run a new business successfully. All of these combine to make this a great time to take the leap and try turning your big idea into something big.
Here are two more reasons why the “over 50” age set is an opportune time to start a business: the internet revolution and the explosive growth of technology, both of which have generated important new tools for older entrepreneurs to consider. Running a thriving, modern company today depends on advanced technology capabilities and extensive internet knowledge, both of which you and your company need to have.
“If I had started at age 30, I could not have survived. I had no experience or connections. And connections are very important, especially in this business.” – Edward Kim, Buying Together
4 Tips for Aspiring Encore Entrepreneurs
Baby boomers are no longer the largest American generation. But they’re still one of the strongest, armed with skills and experience to help them live fully.
In 1996, people 55 to 64 made up less than 15 percent of new entrepreneurs. In 2016, that same age group made up 25 percent of new entrepreneurs, according to a study by the Kauffman Foundation.
We call them encore entrepreneurs. Many are starting businesses for the first time as they near retirement age. Some are already retired, but seek a new path to help them feel reinvigorated in their older years.
It’s the ultimate example of age being just a number.
Consider Ryders Public Safety. Two law-enforcement officers nearing retirement started this shop to serve the Denver, Colorado area because they knew they could serve security industry customers better than current offerings. One of the owners’ wives has joined the team to support the shop as it expands into ecommerce.
Meanwhile, Laurie Brown pivoted from her 30-year career in corporate management to a gift-basket delivery service. Her business idea meshed with her passion for helping people with special needs, who create and fill baskets as a part of their job-skills training.
These are just two examples of seasoned professionals taking an idea and turning it into an encore career as an entrepreneur.
Before embarking on a business journey in your 50s, 60s, or beyond, consider your reasons for doing so. Is it a method of ensuring financial stability? Is it a way to make extra money while practicing a skill you value?
There’s no wrong answer, but knowing your “why” will undoubtedly help guide you as you prepare to pursue your small business idea. You’ll be able to right-size your business to your goals.
The Rise of Senior Entrepreneurs
As far as digital natives are concerned there are several factors the heads of successful start-ups have in common.
Firstly, most see America’s Silicon Valley as the holy grail of all things technology, innovation and social media related and, secondly – owing in part to the massive success of tech entrepreneurs such as the 27-year old Snap founder Evan Spiegel, 33-year-old Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk, aged 34 – many see this entrepreneurial success as the sole preserve of the young.
“Young people are just smarter,” Zuckerberg once remarked, conveniently overlooking the fact that it was baby boomer innovators such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Tim Berners-Lee who led the information revolution in the first place.
Yet with a plethora of business resources now available, increasing numbers of Australian seniors are harnessing online tutorials, online video tutorials and online ‘how to’ articles to source inspiration and turn their business dreams into reality.
While many have yet to reach the dizzying commercial heights of big name brands such as Apple or Microsoft, and those who have invented a product as globally significant as the world wide web are few and far between, senior entrepreneurs have slowly but surely been making themselves a force to be reckoned with, actively contributing to fiscal, social, health, active ageing and lifestyle outcomes in their communities in the process.
More Adults Over 50 Starting Their Own Businesses
Adults age 50 and older are starting new businesses at a rate that’s been growing for more than 20 years — and accelerating since 2008. Many of these new entrepreneurs are using skills developed during careers to start successful businesses, all while enjoying the experiences that come with working for themselves.
“In 1996, the 55-64 age group represented 14 percent of all new enterprises,” says Susan Weinstock, vice president of financial resilience programming at AARP, citing a study from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation released in September. “In 2018, it was 25.8 percent.”
“People are living longer, healthier lives,” Weinstock says. “A lot of us get to our senior years, and we see no reason to retire if we don’t want to.”
Starting their own business is one way older workers can apply their experience in new, fulfilling ways. Some of them have been pushed into entrepreneurship by job loss or other necessities — roughly 6 percent of the 2,700 current and aspiring business owners who responded to a survey from Guidant Financial and LendingClub this year. But the rest made the jump into entrepreneurship voluntarily. Among men, the most common reason is the desire to be one’s own boss. Among women, it’s the desire to follow a long-held passion. Other common reasons include a golden opportunity, a desire not to retire and dissatisfaction with the corporate world.
Thomas Mock, chair of the Asheville, N.C., chapter of SCORE — a national, nonprofit organization that pairs experienced business leaders with entrepreneurs who are just getting their start — says he sees a lot of people who “want to do something other than retiring.” One of his clients, a retired physician from Florida, started a business making toys for dogs. “She wanted to help local animal shelters and make a little money on the side,” Mock says. “This is a real dog-friendly community and a good opportunity for her.”
The Reality Of Being A Female Entrepreneur/Business Owner And How We Can Best Support Them
Women entrepreneurs need to cover more ground than men in order to succeed. This won’t be easy if they keep their hands full with tasks that they can either delegate or outsource. When doing business, female entrepreneurs can outsource all their HR duties to a global PEO such as NHGlobal Partners. A professional employer organization (PEO), helps businesses with all workforce management duties including payroll management, employment laws compliance, and employee recruitment. Working with a PEO can help female entrepreneurs boost morale within their human resources, and to enhance workplace culture, consequently boosting their bottom line.
Another way of supporting female entrepreneurs is to change the current entrepreneurial ecosystem through realistic and honest dialogues about business capital. Governments can, for example, offer women-run startups bigger incentives, and encourage banks to give guarantor-free loans for female-owned businesses. Loans that are anchored on group security or social security, as opposed to personal guarantees, can go a long way in giving women entrepreneurs better access to funding. Relevant government authorities can also adopt a comprehensive, and sustainable industrial policy that makes it easier for women to register businesses and acquire licenses.
Instead of leaving women to self-educate themselves in matters of entrepreneurship, and instead of leaving them to make costly teething mistakes, governments can step in to offer business training to potential and ambitious women. Especially in regards to business profitability and continuity. Society leaders should also educate people against the stereotypes that hold women back, particularly the role of women as caregivers. Husbands should relieve women of the burden of household chores, and other gender roles that prevent them from thriving. Parents, especially in the third world, should give equal educational opportunities to all genders, offering young girls a fair fighting chance in future entrepreneurship.
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” – Coco Chanel
Why More Women Are Turning To Entrepreneurship
The number of women-owned businesses increased nearly 3,000% since 1972 according to the “2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report” commissioned by American Express. Not only that but between 2017 and 2018 women started an average of 1,821 new businesses per day in the U.S. With women now making up a whopping 40% of new entrepreneurs, it’s clear that more women are turning to entrepreneurship than ever before. But why are so many women starting businesses?
The reality is that women are still the primary caregivers whether we’re talking about children or aging parents. One research study indicated that the primary reason American women start businesses is to accommodate work to their family needs. Another survey revealed that roughly 74% of women said flexibility is more important than making the most money. Being your own boss generally allows for more freedom than working for someone else. This additional autonomy is especially helpful when family may be the number one priority. The ability to set your own schedule also makes it easier to make time for exercise and a healthy lifestyle—another reason why women are turning to entrepreneurship.
Women Entrepreneurship: A Step towards Independence
For an entrepreneur it is always about being alert to upcoming opportunities to bring about the value to his/her ideas by using the minimum threshold resources and generating outcomes that are in-line with his primary objective. An entrepreneur has his ideas and thought process as his core competence and an important asset, rest all resources play a secondary role. They always cater to strategic stretch for varied opportunities coming to his path and is prone to risk taking. An entrepreneur is open to innovativeness and would be low on dogmatism because if he would stick to the dogma, then he will not be able to grow in the market.
We might all be aware of some entrepreneurs who have made sky rocketing contribution in the global economy. Some of them are Opprah Winfrey, larry page and sergie brin, bill gates, Michael Bloomberg, aliko dangote, angella margolit, hetal parikh, kiran gill and many more which makes person difficult to list down. Every year hundreds and thousands of entrepreneurs are nominated into the international list of entrepreneurs.
Like Rome was not built in a day, same way there was not a sudden growth in the amount of quality women entrepreneurs in the world. It took real pain and courage to step out in the midst of dawn by breaking all the stereotypes of the society and varied cultures.
Why networking is an act of wellbeing for entrepreneurs
While business owners ostensibly find themselves exploring networking for the leads it can deliver for their firms, there are multiple other advantages to taking networking seriously.
In fact, Jean Evans, Networking Architect and founder of NetworkingJean.ie believes these other benefits are even more critical than lead referrals.
“When I encourage other people to network, my first reason for doing so is mentioning how you build your own board of directors when you network,” Jean says. “This has always been important; entrepreneurship is an exhilarating but lonely journey at times, but in 2020 it took on even more relevance. Businesses were facing a whole new environment, with no earlier playbook to implement, and needed all the help they could get. This help, for many, was found in their fellow business contacts.”
Jean’s statement about a board of directors has a community feel about it.
Just as in a community, business networks look out for their members. On the face of it, a graphic designer, a baker and a legal professional might have little in common. However, they’re all experiencing the ups and downs of self-employment, have deep industry knowledge that others could find useful and may have beneficial contacts to share.
Do These 30 Things If You Want to Be Unstoppable
A lot of people are good at what they do. Some are even elite. A select few are completely unstoppable.
Those who are unstoppable are in their own world. They don’t compete with anyone but themselves. You never know what they will do—only that you will be forced to respond. Even though they don’t compete with you, they make you compete with them.
Are you unstoppable?
“Just as the yin-yang symbol possesses a kernel of light in the dark, and of dark in the light, creative leaps are grounded in a technical foundation.” — Josh Waitzkin, author of The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance