The word startup conjures up images of 20-something founders starting their own businesses in their college dorm rooms, but entrepreneurship isn't just for young people. In fact, the trend of older adults starting and running successful businesses is accelerating.
In 2021, entrepreneurs between the ages of 55 and 64 accounted for 22.8% of entrepreneurs, according to a report published by the Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation. Additionally, since 2020, the proportion of businesses started by adults in that age group has increased in the US, UK, France, and Germany, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Additionally, founders aged 45 and older now account for one-quarter to one-third of all new entrepreneurial activity.
Some older people start a business because they want to be their own boss, while others start a business to pursue a long-held passion. If you want to start something of your own, here are some powerful reasons to move forward.
career is getting longer
The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2034, for the first time in history, there will be more seniors (65 and older) than children (18 and under) in the United States. As individuals live longer, they also work longer, making the traditional 40-year career a thing of the past. If anything, non-linear career paths over 60 years may become more common. Over such a long career trajectory, personal values and priorities inevitably change. At some point, flexibility and fulfillment become more important, especially when taking on caregiving responsibilities. That makes entrepreneurship an attractive career option.
Older Professionals Bring More Outcomes
There are benefits to having fewer gray hairs. Professionals in their 40s and 50s have amassed a set of skills and transferable experience that can be a huge advantage when starting a business. At that age, you tend to know your strengths and weaknesses and what you want and don't want. Although it may seem riskier to “take the plunge,” older professionals are usually more financially stable. This makes it easier to start a side hustle or go all out and build a business from scratch. Finally, the more experience you have, the bigger your network will be. Having a strong network will make starting your business much easier. Networking is not only a great way to find potential customers, but it can also help you establish connections with potential investors.
Older entrepreneurs are innovative
Research shows that people who start businesses later in life (defined as those over 50) create the most economic value by introducing fundamental, market-disrupting innovations. This study Research Policy Journal, showing that older founders are more likely to introduce new products and services to the market than younger founders. Additionally, as founders get older, their chances of introducing something new to the market increase by up to 30%. Therefore, late-career entrepreneurs who have managerial experience and are highly innovative are more than three times more likely to introduce something new to the market than the sample average.
Entrepreneurship has advantages over corporate jobs
According to a recent AARP survey, more than 40% of employees age 40 and older said they experienced age discrimination at work in the past three years. In the same survey, 90% of respondents said that a job must offer meaningful work before they accept it.
“Older workers consider their work an extension of who they are. The majority of older workers seek meaningful employment,” said Rona Choi Alam, AARP's senior research advisor. To tell.
It is also important to note that mass layoffs are becoming the norm and corporate employment is no longer as secure as it once was. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 17 million workers were furloughed or laid off in 2022 alone. Given the evidence of age discrimination in the workplace and the benefits of flexibility and autonomy that come with being your own boss, starting a business later in life is an attractive option.
Whether you're mid-career or nearing retirement, it's never too late to pursue entrepreneurship. Before jumping in with both feet, be sure to define your goals, make a plan, and take small steps. This way, you can leverage your experience, skills and connections while reducing risk.