Small Business Startup News

Advice For Older Entrepreneurs

Written by Tim Morral
Published: 11/13/2014

The number of older entrepreneurs is growing. Here's how over-50 startup business owners are overcoming their unique challenges and achieving small business success.

The number of older Americans who are launching small businesses is increasing.

Older Entrepreneurs On the Rise

In some cases, it's about becoming an entrepreneur after years in big business; in others, it's an opportunity to try something new later in life. But whatever the motivation, Kaufmann Foundation research shows that people between the ages of 55 to 64 accounted for a quarter of all entrepreneurs in 2012--a figure that has climbed 63% since 1996.

Although there are a variety of factors behind the rising number of older entrepreneurs, the changing nature of the consumer marketplace appears to be playing a role in the success of over-50 businesses.

According to a Wall Street Journal article by Bryan Wolff, "there are more and more older consumers, and since most of today's entrepreneurs are younger, and thus solving younger person's problems, there are ample opportunities for older people to find product/market fit, and start successful enterprises."

But the over-50 crowd also faces some unique hurdles. In a recent MarketWatch report, Linda Singer identified these challenges and discussed how over-50 entrepreneurs can overcome them and launch their entrepreneurial careers.

  • Flexible Lifestyle and Work Routines. Although some types of businesses require a 24/7 ownership commitment, others are more flexible. Since flexibility is often an important characteristic for people over 50, older entrepreneurs should consider focusing on businesses that offer a greater work-life balance including consulting, freelancing, home-based and online e-commerce businesses.
  • Spending Nest Eggs. Many older entrepreneurs are nervous about tapping into their retirement nest eggs--and their fears are justified. Rather than investing their retirement funds in their startups, over-50 entrepreneurs should look for funding from other sources and avoid investing more than they are willing to lose.
  • Technology Concerns. The pace of change in technology can be daunting for older entrepreneurs. But an abundance of easy-to-use, Web-based tools available to entrepreneurs makes it easy for most individuals to implement advanced technologies--regardless of their technology background.

The best piece of advice for older entrepreneurs is to simply get started. Like anything worthwhile, an entrepreneurial career isn't easy. But with persistence and dedication, it's possible to achieve success in small business at any age.

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