It’s not much of a surprise anymore to hear somebody say at a birthday party that 50 is the new 40 is the new 30 is the new 20. If things follow suit, eventually nursing homes will become prime real estate for EDM festivals. So it would seem that, despite the adage, you can actually teach an old dog new tricks. And whether or not grandma and grandpa can dance for three days state, statistics say they’re more likely to start a business in later life than your college roommate. But why?

Due to factors stemming from both the current economic climate and natural difficulties in shifting from busy careers to life after the work week, retirees have become the most likely age segment to start a business in 2017. While that scenario may lack the usual romance of a kid dreaming up stuff in his parent’s garage, it certainly offers more promise of success. Through vast experience and decades of professional networking, retiree entrepreneurs have emerged as a reliable source of job creation as our world continues to transition into the tech economy.

Why Boomers Are Likelier To Succeed Than Millennials

A twentysomething might be the sexier choice for a rags-to-riches story, but, more often than not, no matter how wise beyond his/her years a young buck might be, there’s no better teacher than experience. It’s almost a perverse joke that, only after decades sacrificed to a particular career, one is the closest to ever being fully equipped with the experience and savvy to stay any chaos that startup life may entail.

That’s not to say that youth should avoid entrepreneurship; on the contrary, actually, as the current crop of wise elders must always be replaced by the next. But retiree entrepreneurs are more likely to be able to find the shorter path to success by being able to avoid many of the pitfalls that younger founders fall prey to.

According to “The Boom in Boomer Entrepreneurs,” older entrepreneurs of course enjoy their hard-earned experience, but there’s also a different kind of passion driving them:

Many are finally pursuing passions that were previously put off to pursue safer careers.

Many are seeking newfound independence after previous careers.

Some would like to work less than they do currently, and entrepreneurship may allow that.

Some may be supplementing existing income.

Boomers are living longer, thus they have more time and money to invest into a business.

Even at age 65, it’s not absurd to expect to live another 20 years, and remaining engaged in business may very well guarantee this extra time.

Many have spent a long time building deep professional and social networks.

The Kauffman Foundation Index of Startup Activity

A nonprofit dedicated to nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship, along with their requisite education, the Kauffman Foundation releases an annual Startup Activity Index that reveals the distribution of US entrepreneurial activity across gender, race, nativity, age, and education.

The highlight of the Foundation’s 2015 Startup Index was that Baby Boomers had overtaken their much younger counterparts as the largest demographic of new entrepreneurs in the US. The study also states that:

  • “Boomers are twice as likely to be planning to start a new business within a year as Millennials.
  • Since 1989, there’s been a 35% increase in the likelihood that an older business owner Started the business he or she currently runs.
  • From 1996-2013, the share of new entrepreneurs ages 55-64 rose from 14% to 23%.
  • From 1995-2013, the median net worth for households over 65 jumped by 38%.
  • By 2022, 42% of people over age 55 are projected to still be working, while the same goes for 23% of people over 65.”

According to the Foundation’s 2017 Index, the split of new entrepreneurs between age groups has remained basically the same, with a few more revelations emerging

  • “Younger entrepreneurs (ages twenty to thirty-four) have been on the decline, down from 34.3 percent of all new entrepreneurs in 1996 to 24.4 percent in 2016.
  • Individuals ages fifty-five to sixty-four have gone from making up 14.8 percent of new entrepreneurs in 1996 to 25.5 percent of all new entrepreneurs in 2016.”

Stay in the Game

As one of the nation’s emerging innovation and entrepreneurial centers, tekMountain strives to build a vast network of collaboration between all ages and backgrounds, and, with our ever-expanding team of seasoned mentors, we look to enrich and unleash the entrepreneurial spirit from Southeastern NC out into the world.

Contact tekMountain today if you’re interested in keeping your business acumen and experience in the game.


This blog was produced by the tekMountain Team of Sean AhlumAmanda SipesZach Cioffi and Beth Roddy with lead writer Bill DiNome.

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