Advantages of Older Entrepreneurs
Today’s modern senior is breaking all of the rules when it comes to what they want to do in their “Golden Years.”
The term startup was once synonymous with 20 and 30-somethings. Now it isn’t uncommon to see older people in their 60’s and older have startups of their own.
Some seniors also work for other companies to stave off boredom and to make money.
This article talks about the senior entrepreneur, the role they play in the economy, and those who still work after retirement.
Advantages of Older Entrepreneurs
Starting a Business
Why do seniors choose to start a business? They may be economically beneficial to the workforce and create jobs. But motivation also plays a significant role in choosing to start a business. Steve Brown decided to retire from a large IT firm at the age of 64.
One year into retirement, he was already bored with it. So he started his own bookkeeping practice and is now content especially with the flexibility it offers.
or many seniors, the flexibility associated with owning a business or having a part-time job allows them to stay engaged while participating in activities that they are passionate about.
The Concrete Ceiling
Technology has become an indispensable part of life for everyone. Building apps is a common occurrence. But such an idea challenged Avery Chenoweth, a former novelist-turned entrepreneur who created a role-playing history app with a 65-year-old partner. He initially lacked the technical experience to follow through with his idea.
But through an incubator called iLab, which he helped open to the public, Chenoweth gained the skills he needed to start his business.
While there are other institutions that offer training to older people specifically, places like iLab do report seeing that older people come to them for training today.
Entrepreneurship Knows No Age
Starting a business as an older person isn’t just the latest trend. Two of the world’s most well-known fast food chains were started by men who were older.
Colonel Harland Sanders was in his 60’s upon founding KFC while McDonald’s was started by Ray Kroc in his 50’s. So the history of this is well-established. It’s also in the data.
A recent report from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) concluded that people ages 50 to 80 have a higher rate of self-employment compared to those who are younger. There are economic advantages to older entrepreneurs starting businesses too.
For a start, they do not place as much of a burden on the economy because they are contributing to it by staying involved and active in the business. Secondly, unlike their younger counterparts, older entrepreneurs are more likely to hire multiple people and create jobs.
For some, starting a business may seem like an impossible proposition. But with age comes significant advantages for business.
Older people often have experience and some capital with which to start their businesses. Plus they usually have an established network of people that they can sell to or bring on as clients.
Passion and persistence also tend to drive older people more while running a business instead of money.
Seniors are an often untapped resource when it comes to business. A survey done in Canada found that nearly half of those surveyed have the skills necessary to start a business.
CanadaWest, a public policy organization determined that if seniors are given more support and awareness that they are starting businesses increases, thousands of jobs could be created in Canada over the next 5 years.
Seniors themselves are also up for the challenge! More than 70% of those surveyed are not afraid of business failures.
One person who is not afraid of failure is 90-something Silicon Valley designer Barbara Beskind. During World War II, Barbara worked as an occupational therapist. She also designed braces and equipment for the soldiers until her retirement in 1966 as a Major.
Barbara continued to design equipment for patients and was later hired part-time by a Silicon Valley Firm called IDEO. She works on projects for them and does medical consulting work.
Like her younger counterparts, Barbara also has projects in the works including a walker designed to improve a patient’s posture.
Retiring to the Workforce
For some, working is not only a way to stay active and engaged but also to supplement income. Phil Andrasko retired at the age of 62 and soon found himself returning to the workforce. His children were grown and his wife was gone. So he found himself in need of a job to occupy his time.
Nearly 20 years later at age 80, Andrasko admits that his work at a shipping company is also about making money. He receives social security but in today’s society, doing so isn’t easy. Everything is expensive including groceries.
A Singaporean woman named Goh Gwek Eng found retirement to be boring. So with the help of one of her grandchildren, Goh landed a job at the fast food chain McDonalds in 1998. Nearly two decades later, she is still working and going strong.
Goh plans to keep doing so for as long as her health permits. She receives help and support from her colleagues too. Fending off boredom at McDonald’s may not be for everyone but it has worked for her.
Nearly 20% of seniors are still working today. This includes everyone ages 65 or older. In 2000, this number was only 13%. Many of those included in these statistics are working longer shifts or still have full-time jobs.
Financial insecurities drive a lot of people back into the workplace. Today the number of people who have access to a pension of some kind is very small so working has become imperative.
Regardless of their reasons to want to work, the stories and data here indicate that seniors enjoy working and they have valuable skills to offer the economy and society at large. With these figures on the rise, perhaps working after retirement will become a new norm as opposed to an uncommon occurrence.