Entrepreneurship Is Not Just For the Young

woman pitches ideas to group

by Rosalynn Whitehead

Is entrepreneurship on your bucket list? Do you believe you’re too old to pursue your passion? Research reveals that entrepreneurship is not just for the young.

According to a report by the Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation, 22.8% of the country’s entrepreneurs are between the ages of 55 and 64. Fast Company points out that a 60-year-old who starts a new business is three times more likely to succeed than a 30-year-old. Why? There are five reasons maturity can lead to success. Older adults:

  • have the valuable experience which translates into credibility. Prior experience in the specific industry predicts much greater rates of entrepreneurial success.
  • tend to have a deeper knowledge of the market. After spending years in a corporate job, they’re apt to be aware of the leaks – the holes they can fill.
  • are more likely to have developed a sound network. Here’s where you reap the benefits of those after-hours happy hours, along with the hob-knobbing you did at conferences.
  • are passionate about the field.
  • have the confidence that often comes with age. You’ve “been there; done that.” The valuable experience, deeper knowledge of the market, sound network, as well as the passion you have for the field heighten your level of confidence.

Jeff Williams, founder of Bizstarters, an organization that helps baby boomers launch their own business, supports that stance:

Age is often a detriment in the job market, but a plus in the entrepreneurial world. People pay for expertise, experience and wisdom, and Baby Boomers have it. Boomer entrepreneurs also have very good networks. Our average client, at about 57 years old, has over 2,000 people in their LinkedIn network. 

Before you take that leap, Williams recommends that you:

  • Think about your life plan. What is your vision for the next two or three years? How would your business fit into that plan? Would a full-time business fit; or should your business be part-time?
  • Remember that successful businesses solve a problem for someone. For this reason, Boomers tend to chose work they already know.
  • Take advantage of the resources available to you. See the list below.
  • Recognize that you don’t have to deplete your retirement savings. You can launch a sold business for well under $10,000. The Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) found that experience-related factors, such as extended networks or professionalism, may be more important than wealth in determining an individual’s ability to create and sustain a business.

If you have encountered the pitfalls of age-related discrimination that can exist in the workplace and seek to enjoy the flexibility and autonomy that come with being your own boss, perhaps entrepreneurship is for you.

There are resources you can tap into as you pursue your goal of entrepreneurship.

  • BoomerWorks: inspires and empowers 50+ professionals to re-career into self-employment, such as freelance work and small business ownership.
  • Office of Small Business Development Centers: promotes entrepreneurship and small business growth through its national network of centers.
  • SCORE: provides mentorship to small business owners with the goal of increasing revenues and growth.