If you think the largest demographic in the entrepreneurial world is millennials, think again. Baby boomers are actually the most powerful entrepreneurial group, giving up retirement for Career Number Two (or three, four and so on.) The idea of retirement isn’t what it used to be, whether by need or by choice.
Some baby boomers simply can’t afford to lounge around the house, playing with grandkids and working on their golf swing, while others simply don’t want that laid back lifestyle. The American Dream never ends, and baby boomers are finding that they are in the perfect position to build their own business.
According to the Kaufmann Foundation, baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are twice as likely to launch a new business in 2015 compared to millennials. This staggering statistic, revealed in the State of Entrepreneurship Study, is great news for everyone. It may not seem like it, but successful entrepreneurial ventures haven’t recovered from the Great Recession. Shows like Shark Tank and everyone on your social media talking about their small business may suggest otherwise, but a failed startup doesn’t really count as living the American Dream.
The boomer edge
Baby boomers may not have the same energy as millennials, but that isn’t a deal breaker. Having “what it takes” to survive as a startup or as an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley as a 20-something is so demanding that nobody could survive it for long. There are stories of some millennials not even having a place to live because they work such long hours that it just makes sense to sleep at work. That was never what entrepreneurship was supposed to be. Baby boomers have a better handle on work/life balance but also have the drive and ambition to chase success.
Plus, boomers have oodles of work experience that can’t be faked or gained in a hurry. Many of them have a relatively decent amount of wealth and/or equity, too, along with better financial sense compared to the typical millennial. There’s no getting around the fact that you need money to make money, and getting a business going requires cash flow. For boomers, that’s a major obstacle that may be easy to overcome. They are more likely to have money saved up, and even if they don’t they are more likely to be able to borrow money due to better credit ratings and similar. Boomers in Singapore, for example, could search for legal money lender near city hall to find a licensed firm who could give them the money to get their business up and running. This may not be so easy for millennials.
Just the facts
The Kaufmann Foundation reveals some interesting details about boomers as entrepreneurs and why they are winning the game. There’s a 35 percent chance that an older business owner started the business he or she currently manages. In 1996, 14 percent of entrepreneurs were older than 55, but in 2014 that was true of 23 percent of entrepreneurs. Boomers are the wealthiest living generation, and since 1992 every year more and more people are working past the age of 65.
Plus, Kaufmann showcases that a lot of boomers choose entrepreneurship for lifestyle reasons. Maybe they’re passionate about a certain industry, want to supplement their income, or just simply work less than they did previously. Fewer boomers pursue entrepreneurial ventures to “change the world,” as compared to millennials, which may give them a sharper edge.
The world may be changing, but millennials might not be leading the pack as some might imagine. The numbers don’t lie – it is never too late to start over.