Baby Boomers and Small Businesses

Leading the Way in Small Businesses

Hopefully, the stereotype that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” has been disproved by the baby boomer population. Baby boomers (defined as being born between 1945 and 1964) have seen and been a part of huge advances in technology. Not only are the baby boomers technologically savvy, they are leading the US in starting up small businesses.

 Why are the Baby Boomers Starting more Businesses?

Some are calling the Boomers entrepreneurship the new “mid-life crisis”. Currently, boomers are retiring and using their savings to start up more businesses than any other generation. Many boomers are immediately coming out of retirement to start businesses having the education, finances, experience, and resources to become successful business people. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the self-employment rate for adults 55 and older is 16.4% while the rate of the entire labor force is only 10.4%.

baby boomers

The sisters with one of their favorite Baby Boomers. Dave Foley continues to use his reinvent himself and is a true entrepreneur.

The 2008 Kauffman Foundation research study reports; “The fact that the largest age group of our population is also the most entrepreneurial bodes well for the United States’ economic future,” said Robert E. Litan, vice president of Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation. “This study shows how several other emerging trends, from job tenure to regulatory changes due to the current recession, should facilitate entrepreneurship in coming years.”

Contrary to popularly held assumptions, it turns out that over the past decade or so, the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity belongs to the 55-64 age group. The 20-34 age bracket, meanwhile, which is usually identified with swashbuckling and risk-taking youth (think Facebook and Google), has the lowest. Perhaps most surprising, this disparity occurred in the 11 years around the dot-com boom—when the young entrepreneurial upstart became a cultural icon.

Click on the title to watch the PBS 10 minute news story titled  “A Boom in Entrepreneurship, Self-Employment Among Late Bloomers

Getting Started

There are businesses dedicated to the success of baby boomer entrepreneurs. Boomers have also built a lifetime of resources and a network of friends that are supportive and willing to help them succeed.

According to Paul and Sarah Edwards, authors of The Best Home Businesses for People 50+, the hottest self-employment careers for new entrepreneurs involve filling a need or fixing a problem for three market segments: business clients, businesses and consumers, and individuals and families. Examples of service businesses in high demand are senior care, financial management for senior citizens and image consulting–all of which are great for people who are helpers and improvers by nature, says Paul.

The Small Business Association (SBA) has teamed up with the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) to provide free counseling and training for people 50+ interested in starting their own business. They have a series of online courses dedicated to helping the baby boomers navigate their way through small business ownership.

Patricia with the AWS which is comprised mostly of baby boomers

Patricia with the AWS, which is comprised mostly of baby boomers

Clearly the baby boomer population is important to our past and critical to our future.

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