Changing careers, older entrepreneurs shine

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.

Karl Dakin, an entrepreneur, says that the predominance of new entrepreneurs coming from people 50 and older is largely a consequence of individuals reaching a point in their career where they have make a decision between continuing to work for a large company or to break off and become their own boss. “Due to the recession, opportunities to remain with a large company and advance in both pay and responsibility have been extremely limited. As a result, despite the apparent risk, the better opportunity is to become an entrepreneur,” says Dakin. “Many individuals have grown tired of the increasing competition and politics as they approach the top of the corporate ladder and are looking for work where the vast majority of their talents can be put to use in doing something of value. An entrepreneur, although not free of competition and political situations, may nonetheless have a sense of focus in their work.”

Dakin points out that many new entrepreneurs who are older start thinking about the purpose of their life and their legacy. “They want to finish their careers with one or more accomplishments that justify their hard work. These new entrepreneurs are the source of social enterprises, B-corps, L3C’s and new nonprofits. Mission becomes of primary importance over profits,” he says.

Declan Kavanagh, an expert in business strategy development, says that there are several reasons people over 50 are getting more involved in entrepreneurial activity. “A catalyst such as job loss or redundancy sparks entrepreneurs to try something they have been thinking of doing. A similar catalyst is when employment opportunities are slim and therefore the pressing need to create an income motivates a person to start a business,” Kavanagh explains. “People over 50 have a career and experience behind them and may have amassed some wealth that enables them to take a risk. Some over 50 entrepreneurs learned their entrepreneurial skills as employees of large organizations where past roles allow them to be intrapreneurial.”

Kent Gordon, an entrepreneurial executive, thinks the economic downturn has been a boon for entrepreneurial, talented, and energetic Boomers to successfully unleash and commercialize insight-based innovations. “Fifty-plusers still have plenty of gas in their tank to create, launch, and sustain innovations. Their older counterparts (Matures, ages 66+) are setting great examples to emulate,” he says. “The rise in startup among the older generation, relative to the younger Millennials and Generation Xers, is due in large part to a recessionary impact on Boomer employment and the loss of retirement assets.”

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