Some things get better with age such as wine, cowboy boots, blue jeans, rib-eye steaks, balsamic vinegar and some human beings. Older people are not quietly go into the sunset and retiring. Successful entrepreneurs are getting older! The young entrepreneurs may get more press, but there are many older people becoming entrepreneurs. Are they more productive and creative?
There is no age requirement, minimum or maximum on entrepreneurship! It can happen when you are in your teens as evidenced by some very young entrepreneurs and much later such as your forties, fifties, and sixties or even later. Young people are wary of older people and vice versa. Certain industries seem to attract younger people such as technology, but there are many more industries which attract older entrepreneurs. It is usually a continuation of a successful career, but now as an entrepreneur.
Mac Lewis worked for IBM, but co-founded FieldSolutions when he was 60 years old. FieldSolutions has a network of 27,000 service technicians (independent contractors) who provide field service to large technology companies throughout North America. The Baby Boomer generation are creating a new definition for retirement! Some will quietly live an active retirement by volunteering and yet others feel it is their time to start a business or just keep working. It is an individual choice!
They are not necessarily building the next Apple or Microsoft. They start small companies that are successful because of the years in the particular industry. What are they doing? They are fulfilling their dreams by starting companies they have thought about for years. Some of these entrepreneurs are people who are fifty (50) years old or older. They may be retired from many years at one or more companies, laid off, or following their dream. There are many reasons, but what may trump all of that is a desire to remain active well past retirement.
Technology has given us an opportunity for independence for young and old. Is it easier to start a business now? In some ways, the bar is lower because of technology, but opportunity sometimes shows up at different times. Being over fifty (50) years old makes it difficult to find work. What can you do? You can reach for that dream rather than just drain your savings. This may not be good for everyone, but there are more over fifty (50) year old entrepreneurs than young (20-34 year old) entrepreneurs.
Many older workers just want to avoid the instability of working for someone else. They become consultants, independent contractors, temporary position or start a business. You have 25-30 years of skills and experience and you want to work. You are too young to retire and you want to be active It is hard to go from working to nothing so starting a business seems to make sense. You can always cut back sometime in the future.
The recession and accompanying high unemployment has motivated older people to start businesses. If you look for work for months or even a year and unsuccessful, you can start a consulting business and market your skills and experience and make some money too. If you are successful, you may never want to return to working for someone else. This is not new, but older workers had no other choice. The number of entrepreneurs is growing particularly for people over the age of 50 years old. More than five (5) million Americans age 55 or older are self employed and growing.
Everything is changing, older workers see retirement differently! They do not want to just sit around and do nothing. The recent recession has forced many older people to start businesses. They may have retired, lost their jobs or pursue a new interest. Whatever the reason, more older workers are starting businesses. It may be a trend or it may be a realization that we no longer have careers for life. It may not be a surprise to young people, but it is a shock that experience and skills may not matter to an employer. In your own business, you are rewarded for your skills and experience. Some things get better with age and you can benefit from it!
Photo by: Flickr
Money Beagle says
Many companies seem reluctant to hire older workers, but then many of them probably turn around and hire them as contractors and end up paying more than if they would have just hired them in the first place. It’s always amazing to see the games played by hiring and HR and finance when it comes to this stuff. It does show that experience and ingenuity count.
Even a contractor’s rate of pay is less than a permanent employee. Benefits is an expensive portion of compensation. Older workers have a positive effect on organizations despite some of their shortcomings.
Michael | The Student Loan Sherpa says
I agree with this to a certain extent, but as a young person you don’t want to be in an office with ALL older people. I know a few people who ran into this situation and they were not very comfortable with their work environment .
I think you want diversity which means a different ages, gender and even interests. I had a consulting assignment many years ago with a non profit and it was all female except for one employee and me. It was uncomfortable at times.
No Waste says
I think the definition of retirement is being able to do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it.
If that means starting a productive business, go for it.
Me? I hope to have nothing to do with business when I’m retired. That would get in the way of my being lazy time.
It is all about choices! After being busy for 40+ years, I know I do not want to do nothing, but it is a choice.
Mr. Utopia says
I think, generally speaking, there’s an interesting perception on the age difference of entrepreneurs. It seems that young, successful entrepreneurs are deemed “geniuses” and people marvel at their accomplishments. Whereas, on the other hand, older, successful entrepreneurs are viewed as merely experienced without the “genius” aspect. In other words, their success is attributed to different drivers when, in reality, both sets are very similar – extremely motivated, driven, passionate people who have novel ideas or who can fill a need well.
Descriptions are always misleading! If you are rich and strange, you are eccentric! If you are poor, you are crazy! In most instances, we measure success in terms of wealth. Whether you are 20 or 50 something, are you successful measured in dollars and cents!
I wonder what’s going to happen when the baby boomers finally leave the workforce. Will there be a huge gap in the workforce? Will this mean more opportunities for young workers. I know right now in my company most of the managers and VPs are 50+. You basically have to be 34+ to be a people manager. Not really sure why. At other companies it’s not like this. But our organization is old.
There should be more opportunity although you should work on getting the skills and experience to be ready for the ne xt step now. Keep networking in your industry and make a change if you need to.
Jen @ The Happy Homeowner says
I love reading things like this because it highlights how important it is to follow your instincts no matter how old you are. I find older entrepreneurs to be a wealth of inspiration–not just experience!
I think I learn from everyone, especially the successful people. Age should not matter, but it does! This is true for old and young people.
Chuck@Tortoise Banker says
Mmm… I don’t know… I have seen quite a few start ups by folks near the end of their career NOT succeed… I don’t know if it’s a lack of determination that younger people have, or the possibility of the business being started just because they needed “something to do” but I’ve found that a peak time for entrepreneurial success is late 30s early 40s.
Starting a business should always be a choice because you need a lot of things to make it successful. Many older workers find themselves unemployed and think they can start a business. There are a lot of reasons for businesses failing!
Jacob @ iHeartBudgets says
I can’t afford to strike it out on my own at a young age, but plan on it a little later in life. I agree, entrepreneurs can definitely get better with age, plus they are filled with wisdom from the experience that you can’t learn in a 4-year school, but from 30 years of making it happen! Great post!
It may be experience or maturity! I know my judgment has changed over the years and so has my risk tolerance. Am I smarter or just more experienced?
DC @ Young Adult Money says
Interesting statistics for sure! It’s so true that younger entrepreneurs get all the press, and I can attest to the fact I hear about them nonstop relative to older entrepreneurs. It’s really cool to see lifestyle design taking shape in our culture where people are taking advantage of their resources to work for themselves.
The internet has certainly leveled the playing field for entrepreneurship! I think everyone should be able to pursue what makes them happy.
Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter says
I’ve been surprised as to how many people have started businesses in retirement even around my neighborhood and in my family. It’s definitely a good way to keep active and your brain sharp! If you are lucky you can make some extra money on the side.
I think it is hard to just do nothing after working your whole life! I think you can alwaysusesome extra money too. It givesyoumore choices!
I think most individuals get better with age. You get closer to who you really are and stop trying to impress the world so bad. Your wisdom can actually help you achieve more than the energy of your youth.
I noticed I became more confident. It comes with success and experience. Everyone ages differently!
Terry @ Fix em Up Rent em Out says
It’s encouraging to read about the opportunities that still await older workers.
I’m not taking any chances though. As I get older I’m going to stop eating health food. I’ll need all the preservatives I can get.
Good attitude! Unfortunately, the preservatives do not have a positive effect on humans. I am doing just the opposite because people who live the longest have the simplest diets. I do not want to see any ingredients that I cannot pronounce. 🙂
Andy Hough says
It is good to know that older workers are successful at starting their own businesses. I plan to still have some type of business when I retire, even if it is just a blog.
I think it is a great way to keep your self busy in retirement. Of course, I would cut back on the hours!
Sam Gill @ Digital Spikes says
Great post I firmly believe, Do what you want to do, follow your heart and use brain of course. Give 100% and put your best, Result will follow but focus on doing, doing and doing. Retirement can be defined by the result of what you want to do and realized based on what was done or what you did
Entrepreneurship is usually an extension of following your dream or passion and is not restricted by age. Similar to success, it can happen at any age!
Kraig - Young Cheap Living says
Good stuff. I just watched a video today of a 97 year old man that’s going blind, but has gotten into digital art with MS Paint. He lives for it and has passion that’s just incredible. All of us can have that kind of passion and it doesn’t matter what age we are.
Young or old, we all have the opportunity to start something of our own. Colonel Sanders of KFC was in his 60’s when he started the company. How awesome is that?
Thanks, the message is there is no minimum or maximum age for entrepreneurship. The business does not have to generate millions to be successful. There are lots of small businesses that do very well and create a lot of millionaires.
My neighbors are in their early 70’s and both still work full time. You would never guess they wereThey have had so many different careers and have seen and done a ton of different things. They certainly don’t work for the money, but I think it keeps them young. I don’t think I want to be working full time at age 70, but who knows? Maybe when your kids are grown, you get bored and need more stimulation?
My Mother worked in some capacity til her early nineties, although it was less than full time! It kept engaged and active.
Gold Price says
Usually a major factor that sets older entrepreneurs apart from their young counterparts is availability of personal wealth.
Personal wealth or access to capital is something that we all need, but usually associated with older generations.
I’ll have to agree with all you said, Krant – I know from personal experience. I and some of my friends have most certainly benn becoming better with age and I often joke that ‘I am like good wine’. Because not all wines become better with age – only very good ones; the rest just go off. One thing I would like to add, if I may, is that older people have more awareness of the world around them (essential for success as entrepreneur) and they generally risk less (most, as you pointed out have already had successful careers).
Thanks, older entrepreneurs are different from younger ones. The bad economy has encouraged more older ones to start businesses now more than ever.
Angeline Dillon says
MICHAEL GROTTOLA: I think I can do this until 80 or 90, all right? And the reality is, I don’t think you can think in terms of too old. It’s how you feel, it’s how much fire you have. And if you’re smart and you realize you’re getting older, well, then get into a business where you leverage the younger people, and eventually you become the great gray god.
I think you always want a diverse group of people which includes age, gender, skills and experience. The baby boomers are looking at retirement differetly and starting businesses! I like the the ideaofthe “great gray god”.
Greg @ Thriftgenuity.com says
I think the combination of experience and distrust of corporate America makes for a potent environment for older entrepreneurs. I think it is a trend that will continue for the next generation as well. I plan to retire from corporate America early, but will certainly be doing something with my time that I deem productive.
I don’t know if it distrust as much as independence! I think there are many reasons for starting a business and hopefully all of them are about what you have a passion to do vs. what may be wrong with corporate America.
Whenever I decide to retire I want to still find ways to contribute. I hope to stay active well into my golden years. I’m hoping that once I’m not working so hard I’ll be able to stay physically fit.
You should start now because it is hard to create or break habits! It also helps because you will live better in your old age.
Darwin's Money says
I think there’s definitely a misconception that older people aren’t as adept at many things from working hard to kicking ass. And boy do people feel stupid when they’re proven wrong. There are plenty of young whimps who are ineffective at work.
Incompetence does not have an age limit or minimum! Culturally, we seem to have a problem with age. It always seems to show up in business or should I say corporate America. It is one of the reasons older workers when laid off or lose their job start businesses.
Hugo Howell says
Of course, people become entrepreneurs because they want to or because they have to. The first group tends to build more durable enterprises with human resource departments and capital budgets in a wide range of businesses. They’ll attract angel investors and even venture capital. For example, among U.S.-born tech founders, those older than age 50 numbered more than twice as many as those younger than 25, according to a study by scholars Vivek Wadhwa, Richard Freeman, and Ben Rissing. Older entrepreneurs tend to have an edge in markets where experience and contacts are invaluable. “People with experience know how to support their customers and how to price their product,” says Lewis.
Maybe it is more interesting or newsworthy to feature young entrepreneurs! Older entrepreneurs rule!
Alexis Marlons says
I always commend older ones as someone who are a lot better than the young ones. People do get better with time and experience and the older ones are most likely to succeed in businesses rather than the younger ones.
Although more experienced entrepreneurs should be more successful, there is no guarantee. Experience does help though!
Silver Price says
The unemployment rate for those age 55 and older, though lower compared to other age groups, more than doubled during the recession. The national jobless rate for workers 55 hovered around 3 or 4 percent for much of the last decade before peaking at 7.2 percent in late 2009. It was 5.5 percent in April . And older workers typically remain unemployed longer than younger workers.
That is true! That may be one reason why older workers are becoming entrepreneurs.