After retiring, baby boomers are not content to sit in a rocking chair. We are changing the rules and redefining old age. Growing up during a time when everything seemed possible, perhaps it’s not surprising that we refuse to grow up and grow old, feeling a bit like Peter Pan.
Retired boomers can be seen white water rafting, running marathons, zip lining, and traveling to exotic and adventurous places.
And, perhaps surprisingly, many approaching retirement are starting our own businesses. Many boomers want to continue working – but on our own terms.
A new Gallop study showed adults over the age of 50 are one of the fastest-growing groups of entrepreneurs in the U.S. In fact, boomers are twice as likely as millennials to say they plan to start a business in the next year.
What’s surprising about this study is that the majority of boomers are working a full decade longer than their parents. So, why do boomers, who have already worked years and years for established businesses, want to start over and launch an “encore career” as an entrepreneur?
When Gallup studied nearly 2,000 U.S. baby boomers, including entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs, they found that an overwhelming majority — 83% — say their main reason for launching a venture was a lifestyle choice or to increase their income.
This poll suggests that we’re searching for independence and want to pursue our interests and passions before it’s too late. Money also plays a role. Many boomers haven’t saved enough for retirement and are looking for ways to make some extra money.
Yet, it seems that our desires are outweighing practical choices when it comes to choosing a new business.
Clearly, I’m in that category. I love working as a freelancer writer, but I’m not exactly getting rich. But still, I wouldn’t trade my freedom and happiness following my creative passions for a bigger paycheck.
Likewise, boomers typically aren’t looking for a grueling, high-intensity, high-growth venture. “Very few are pursuing an idea for a new product or service that solves a problem or meets an unfulfilled need in the market — the type of business that would typically have immense growth potential,” the study’s authors wrote. “Perhaps for boomer entrepreneurs, these reasons reflect their current stage in life.”
Therein lies the hitch. Although we’re experienced in our careers, we boomers still have the same challenges and face the same risks as younger entrepreneurs. In addition, we’re looking to start businesses that will bring fulfillment and excitement to our lives which unfortunately doesn’t always equal income.
Consider the Challenges
Remember that running your own business is considerably different than working for a company.
You will face uncertainty and failure, the study’s authors point out.
Consider how hard you are willing to work, how you will acquire clients, how willing and adaptable you are to learning new skills, and how you will persuade others to buy your product or service.
Understand your strengths and vulnerabilities before diving in.
Make the Right Connections
Connect with local resources and network, network, network.
In most cities, the AARP and Small Business Administration offers information, services, and training to help older entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Also connect with other “encore” entrepreneurs’ professional networks.
Form a support group to get you through the rough times.
Take advantage of social media sites. Networking isn’t easy but it’s an essential key to success.
Even though you may have a lot of work experience, entrepreneurs over the age of 50 will still benefit from working with a coach, mentor, or business adviser.
An established business owner can help you navigate through regulations and legal issues, develop marketing ideas, and learn how to promote your business in both traditional and new ways.
With all these challenges, will launching a new successful business make you happy?
Quite possibly. Despite the hard work and dedication required to start and run a small business, 94 percent of U.S. entrepreneurs are happy being small business owners, according to a new survey by the online small business community, Manta.
Now, that’s good news for you boomers with an entrepreneurial spirit!
Images courtesy of Ambro and Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net