Would it surprise you to learn that baby boomer entrepreneurs outnumber millennials who start businesses nearly 2 to 1? Or that more than 8 in 10 participants in a recent Gallup survey cited the main reason for starting a new business as a means to improve their lifestyle and/or their income? As surprising as these numbers might seem, they no longer surprise me. Why? Because I’ve seen it firsthand: more than 9 in 10 of Sales Xceleration’s licensed Advisors are, indeed, baby boomer entrepreneurs! Let’s take a closer look at this “boom” of entrepreneurs over age 50 and why these seasoned professionals are finding greater purpose in what the Small Business Administration calls an “encore career”:
Boomers in Their Prime
Baby Boomers, of course, are those individuals – like me and so many of my professional colleagues – who were born between 1946 and 1964. In that era of post-WWII America, the long dark days of international conflict had subsided and a bright future loomed large. It was a time when the American economy enjoyed a mostly continuous upswing and many young couples started, or added to, their families. Today, many of these boomers have accomplished much but still feel a professional itch – an itch to be more in control of their professional fulfillment as they use their skills, experience and passions to make a difference for themselves, their families, and for businesses that need their expertise.
You Are Not Alone
Living longer, staying healthier and having more information at our fingertips may be contributing factors to the boom in 50+ entrepreneurship. Whatever the reason, more than 60 million U.S.-born boomers are still living and have been of working age for more than 30 years. Of course, many have retired, but still more are eager to stay productive and engaged in the professional marketplace. All in all, there is a huge amount of collective experience and earned wisdom out there.
And as I said in a recent article, you are not alone if you find yourself wanting more from your career – more satisfaction, more fulfillment, and more opportunities to make a difference by helping others. According to a recent Gallup poll of nearly 2,000 boomer-age U.S. adult respondents, baby boomer entrepreneurs are more common than you think, and they have distinctive reasons for pursuing professional fulfillment in their “second act”.
Gallup’s survey, for example, found that the top two reasons boomers start new businesses is the opportunity to be independent (32% of respondents), and pursuing their passions (27%). Think about that. Nearly 6 in 10 of those surveyed listed independence and professional passion as reasons to become baby boomer entrepreneurs. And while financial gain wasn’t at the top, it wasn’t far behind either: the opportunity to increase their income came in at 24%. (Depending on your expertise, your skill set and your encore-career aspirations, I’ve found that all three may be possible.)
What’s more, the numbers continue to trend upward. A Kaufmann Foundation study reports that in 1996, just 14% of entrepreneurs were over the age of 55, but that the number had grown to 23% in 2014. And because their ventures are rooted in experience and passion (versus a change-the-world approach more common with millennials), boomers often have a stronger foundation for later life success.
The Pivot Point
If you are someone who has reached the threshold of your “second act”, you are probably at a key point in your life. Perhaps you are financially secure, with the kids out of the house and on their own, and you merely want to relax and enjoy your retirement years. But as I’ve described above, it is increasingly possible that – like those Gallup survey respondents – you are ready to take on a new venture, one that lets you be more independent and utilize your professional passions. If so, you are at a pivot point. Think of it as the proverbial fork in the road. Will you make a new professional start, or will you look back with regret at what poet Robert Frost called, “The Road Not Taken”? Many boomers see this period in their lives as a chance to live without regret and to explore opportunities they perhaps could not afford to pursue while raising their families.
The Bottom Line:
Another finding in the Gallup survey was that boomers are more than twice as likely as millennials to start a business in the next 12 months. Indeed, the age of the baby boomer entrepreneur continues to expand. So, whether you see it as scratching a long-ignored entrepreneurial itch or as a convergence of time and opportunity, when you strike out on a new professional venture at 50+, you are in good company. It’s something we’ve confirmed with our own licensed Advisors: there is often a “sweet spot” where experience, expertise and wisdom are just what the marketplace needs. Call it prime time for baby boomer entrepreneurs!
To learn more, contact us today at 844.874.7253.
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