Boomers Changing Business: The Aging Entrepreneur

By Charlotte Bumstead

“The best way to keep going is to keep going,” Moses’ Zoomer Philosophy reminds us in the March 2010 chapter. In it, he points out that working passed the traditional age of retirement (65) will not only be beneficial to Zoomers’ themselves, but to society as a whole. And in the 2011 Winter issue, he writes, “Not only is the disinclination of some Zoomers today to stop working not a threat to the economy, it may already be one of the things that can save it.”

It seems Moses’ predictions are being borne out sooner than expected. Researchers have found evidence of this economic rescue existing beyond boomers’ steady employment rate; the wise and experienced are taking the driver’s seat in the coming entrepreneurship boom. According to a study by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which follows trends between 1996 to 2010, it’s not the youthful zeal fuelling the surge in small business start-ups. Instead, it’s older, savvier Zoomers: those between the ages of 55 and 64 show a higher rate of entrepreneurial activity than those aged 20 to 34.

“With longer life expectancies and greater health in later life, older generations are moving to start new firms—and mentor young entrepreneurs,” reports The Huffington Post. “In addition, the boomer demographic is also creating a slew of new market opportunities, including improved healthcare facilities, construction of senior-friendly facilities, and technical support for seniors, by seniors.”

This suggests that the impact and power of Zoomers in the marketplace will last a lot longer than anticipated. It also means boomers are being recognized for playing a key role in our economic recovery. “Entrepreneurs drive the economy,” said Carl Schramm, president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation. “Challenging economic times can serve as a motivational boost to individuals who have been laid-off to become their own employers and future job creators.”

The fears that the silver tsunami will destroy the social safety net seem to be receding, replaced by a new vision of businesses embracing opportunities as boomers create them.
It’s time to ride the age wave.