The world has changed for senior citizens, and they’re changing the world. Today, 50+-year-olds who have been given the gift of an additional 20 years of longevity and good health are turning to entrepreneurship.
Seniors have years of experience to draw from and they’re eager to embrace new opportunities.
According to a 2013 research in the US from the MetLife Foundation, over 34 million baby boomers want to start their own businesses. Also, the Kauffman Foundation and Global Entrepreneurship Monitor show that, contrary to the traditional belief that entrepreneurship is a young person’s endeavor, senior citizens are the most entrepreneurial age group. These senior entrepreneurs are optimizing their life and work experience to create everything from micro-businesses to multimillion-dollar technology businesses.
This makes the aging population the world’s fastest-growing and sustainable natural resource. Experience is powerful, and understanding how to catalyze it across generations and sectors is the new competitive advantage.
So, why are so many seniors turning to entrepreneurship?
1. Traditional Retirement Funds Aren’t Enough
Most seniors are underfunded and they risk running out of money. The reason for this is that people are now living longer that they used to and they might need to support two or three decades of retirement.
Seniors depend on multiple sources of income, such as social security, 401(k) plans, IRAs, and pensions. However, as the average life expectancy (especially in the US) continues to rise, many seniors are likely to deplete their retirement resources.
For instance, the need for healthcare is a major possibility. While some seniors may get by with few medical issues, others use hundreds of thousands of dollars in healthcare.
Thus, an income-generating entrepreneurial project helps seniors to navigate the rocky, unpredictable transition from the working world.
2. A Post-Retirement Entrepreneurial Project Can Keep You Healthy
To give an example, Dale Olsen (a 71-year-old man) started SIMmersion, an e-learning and technology services business after retiring.
According to Olsen, it’s almost impossible for any business to remain a side business. Because if you love it, a business becomes consuming. And, if you don’t, it’ll fail.
Olsen’s business empowers him to be creative and productive. He feels this venture has improved his self-worth, boosted his cognitive capability, and offered the much-needed social activity.
Staying young, living longer, and thinking clearly needs social interactions, mental challenges, and physical exercise.
Olsen also found that income was a small part of the equation. What was once his freelance hobby has now become a path to a more fulfilling future. Olsen said he pursued his side business as part of his retirement strategy because he wasn’t physically or mentally ready to retire.
3. Entrepreneurship Helps Fight Ageism, Too
While many senior Americans are still in the workforce, ageism can prevent them from landing jobs. A study by job site iHire shows that over 53% of baby boomers have experienced age discrimination at work and they’ve struggled to get jobs they’re qualified for.
For instance, in the article, Taylor says he experienced ageism first-hand. He found that getting a job is difficult if you’re not the 20s, 30s, or mid-40s candidates.
However, age isn’t a barrier to entrepreneurship.
If you’re a senior and you have a hobby that you’re passionate about, you can turn it into a money-making entrepreneurial project.
The world is now understanding that seniors with the wealth of work and life experience, deep connections, and eagerness to remain productive, are a huge untapped resource. Their experience boosts prosperity for people of all ages globally.
It’s time we stop viewing this demographic as a liability and instead look at them as assets. Also, we should work across sectors to break down the barriers to unleashing their maximum potential.