A lot of ink is spent taking time to understand how to bend to the interests, ways of communications and, yes, whims of the bright shiny new generation. We all do it because it’s an essential part of business. Millennials, increasingly, represent a large piece of the market share of customers for companies just because of their sheer size. They already outnumber the Boomers. And Generation Z, the next shiny group, is all the rage as business leaders try to understand how to connect with the first truly digital group from birth.
But, while we’re all paying attention to those under the age of 40, there’s another group that is making a big dent in business, particularly as entrepreneurs. They are the encore entrepreneurs.
Encore entrepreneurs are men and women in their 50’s and 60’s who may have taken a financial hit in the aftermath of the 2008 Recession. They may have also lost their jobs in an economy that has wholly changed since they started their careers. Medicine and technology have also changed what it means to be professionally middle-aged. People in their 50’s and 60’s today are in better health, live active lifestyles and want to continue to contribute meaningfully to society.
However, the reality that once people are on the other side of 50, they will have a particularly tough time finding employment that is similar to the position they lost is real. In addition, because of the rise in health care costs and the need for additional money for retirement since people in middle-age might not have saved enough, many of these workers are turning to develop businesses. Boomers and Generation X understand that they have to keep going, and because of it, they are now the largest segment creating new start-up companies, according to The Kaufman Index and also the Small Business Administration.
Unfortunately, encore entrepreneurs have to figure it out mostly for themselves. As was mentioned in an article from The New York Times, “Older entrepreneurs comprise an overlooked demographic group and require more resources and support services, said Jonathan Bowles, the executive director of the Center for an Urban Future.” Bowles went on to mention that New York City should create an incubator program that is tailored form them, including with start-up funds because often, although older prospective entrepreneurs have ideas and the desire, they lack the resources and even the confidence to do it.
Still, older workers are making the jump and becoming encore entrepreneurs because they have a lot to offer the business community.
- They have experience, and there’s value to the experience and knowledge that they can bring to start-ups.
- For instance, concerning business development and sales, older workers have a certain amount of credibility because of their extensive experience.
If you’re in your 50’s or 60’s, perhaps you’ve always wanted to start your own business, but don’t know where to begin. Or, maybe you just got downsized and are wondering what to do next. Whatever the reason, there are a couple of resources that you can refer to so you can get your start-up off the ground.
- Small Business Administration: The SBA is providing middle-age entrepreneurs with insight and support for creating start-ups.
- SCORE: SCORE is a resource partner with SBA, providing mentorship and training for small businesses, including those by encore entrepreneurs.
- AARP: AARP Foundation has created resources for older workers looking to begin their businesses.
You can also find resources that may be available in your local community by going to your local library, SBA office or Googling for encore entrepreneurial information in your hometown.
Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact”(Free Digital Download)
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