Older entrepreneurs thrive with innovation

Recent studies have shown that people over the age of 50 are the fastest growing area of entrepreneurism. Experience is one contributing success factor. Our Zintro experts were eager to share their ideas and reasoning for this growth and success.

George Tyler, a chief alliance consultant, says that as an entrepreneur, he is seeing more start up companies being formed by executives who have left the corporate world and want control over their own destiny. “Some people left voluntarily, while others were forced out for many different reasons. Finding a job in today’s market is hard and doubly hard for the older worker,” he says. “The choice is to keep looking for work with someone else or deal with the problem directly and start your own company. I believe that franchising is growing, as well as consulting firms. Both of these options are usually the easiest for a knowledgeable worker willing to run their own business.”

Tylers says that one issue he sees with older entrepreneurs is many are solo entrepreneurs who the lack fellow workers. “It can be lonely doing all the work. You don’t have anyone else to delegate the work to. Some people can’t handle this, and they have to find a way back into working for a company,” he says.

Ruby Gottlieb, marketing and media consultant, sees a few reasons for the increase in older entrepreneurs. “First, and of no surprise, is the difficulty of older professionals to find new roles after being laid off or let go from previous positions,” she says. “While much as been written as to the value of professional experience and the perspective, talents, and skills they bring to an organization, many industries continue to look for younger, less expensive personnel. And yet, many senior professionals have not kept up with technological developments and find it difficult to compete with those who live and breathe their use each day. Many older people choose entrepreneurism out of need or see it as the only means to them at the time.”

Gottlieb says that many older entrepreneurs, however, relish the opportunity to be their own boss, work with clients of their own choosing, make their own hours, and create a new level of work/life balance. “At various life stages, older professionals come to value their lives in different ways from when they were on the corporate treadmill. Becoming an entrepreneur allows them to learn new skills and take on professional experiences they’ve always wanted to try their hand at,” she says. “And, sometimes as one gets older, financial demands lessen (no more tuitions, mortgages paid off, financial planning done effectively), and it becomes more feasible to make less money and work more for personal satisfaction and mental stimulation.”
Khalil Azzoui, a venture capital manager, says people over 50 who have benefited from years of professional and entrepreneurial experiences encompassing failures and successes are ripe for entrepreneurism. “Their experience curve is such that their entrepreneurial strengths allow them to make informed and innovative decisions when it comes to launch a venture,” says Azzoui. “They feel comfortable when forming and leading a team, exploring a market, and dealing with stakeholders. The age of 50 brings wisdom and charisma when it comes to negotiating with third parties. It is reassuring for funds or investors to deal with experienced entrepreneurs, who have a varied network, than with budding entrepreneurs.”

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