Nowadays, Millennials seem to be getting a lot of buzz for their entrepreneurial savviness and startup success. While there certainly is some truth to this, that does not mean that other generations are not starting businesses, they are. In fact – and this may come as a surprise – it is actually Baby Boomers who are running the entrepreneurial show.
That’s right. According to a recent study by the Kaufmann Foundation, Boomers are twice as likely as Millennials to be planning to start a new business. The foundation also found in their 2016 Startup Index that 24.3% of all new entrepreneurs fall between the ages of 55 and 64. Millennial entrepreneurs make up 25%, but what is significant about these numbers is that the Millennial percentage has been steadily declining, while the Boomer percentage has been quickly increasing.
All of this is to say that when it comes to Boomers starting businesses, the odds are greatly in their favor. This is excellent news.
There are a lot of reasons for the increased number of older entrepreneurs, but one of the most prominent is this ever-shifting, and now dynamic economy. Things have changed a lot since the No-So-Great Recession, including the rise of the gig economy, people working multiple jobs, college graduates living with their parents, and yes, working past the retirement age.
One reason for this has to do with economic necessity. Not a few Boomers lost their retirements in the recession and as a result, they have been forced to work longer than they ever anticipated. But other reasons for the rise of Boomerpreneurship are even more salient:
- The mobile revolution. People can now start a business from almost anywhere using the Internet. This allows them the opportunity to “retire” near the kids, or beach, or wherever, and still start and run a business.
- Low cost of entry: It is cheaper and easier than ever before to launch a business.
- Help: Between AARP, the SBA, SCORE, and tons of websites, there is more startup help than ever for the older entrepreneur.
And yet, despite all that, the question still persists: Why older entrepreneurs? What do they have that younger people don’t?
One word: Experience.
Individuals closer to retirement age have had plenty of jobs to know what works and what doesn’t – this type of insight can work wonders when it comes to starting one’s own business. So much of the startup process is a matter of risk-taking and chance, but the more experience one has, and the more educated a guess you can make, the less you are leaving things to chance; the less risk you are taking.
Additionally, people closer to retirement age have typically had a lot more experience handling their finances – budgeting, saving, investing, etc. – which is also a huge factor when it comes startup success. They may also have a larger network of people for acquiring capital, more connections, etc. This type of real-life experience and network makes a material difference in the entrepreneurial world, and, the truth is, a lot of Millennials just haven’t lived long enough to attain that yet.
Finally, despite the aforementioned economic considerations, it turns out that boomerpreneurship is trending for another reason – lifestyle choice. It turns out that 8 out of 10 Boomer entrepreneurs have started businesses for lifestyle reasons rather than financial ones. Thus, if your desire to start your own business is not stemming from an economic need but an entrepreneurial desire, know that you are in great company.
Bottom line: Don’t let the ultra-hip, tech savvy Millennials intimidate you; remember, numbers show that it is Boomers who are running the entrepreneurial world.
There is still much left to do.