Not too long ago, I was attending a forum when I began talking with an incredible woman, who happened to be volunteering at the event. As we began chatting, she opened up to me about her yearning to explore a new professional venture as an entrepreneur. She had the time, as her husband works as a pilot with unusual hours, and her kids are now all in college. As our conversation progressed, I learned that she had explored the idea of becoming an entrepreneur, but found herself quickly discouraged after looking for resource that are specifically geared toward entrepreneurship for older adults.
The woman explained, “There’s so much focus on the youth when it comes to entrepreneurship. But I am just 52 years old, I have so much energy and 15 years of management experience. I can’t find a space where I can work on my ideas.” Hearing this was disheartening, as this incredible woman, with so much experience and a wealth of knowledge, was unable to find resources about becoming an entrepreneur at her age.
Unfortunately, this is a story that is all too common for countless older adults. It was during this conversation that I truly began to understand the frustration that so many often times experience. Following our discussion, I found myself exploring the internet in search of resources for people like this woman, who may have an interest in the field. Are the available resources only tailored to younger adults, even knowing that an incredible group of adults, like the woman I spoke to, are interested in putting their professional experiences to work?
After completing my own investigation, what I found was not surprising to me. There are a plethora of resources available for young adults interested in entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, I also discovered that older adults are left with a scarce amount of resources to tap into, leaving them to figure out the trail themselves. With this is mind, I want to explore the question, how can we help older adults be successful in their quest as an entrepreneur?
Why Should We Focus on Older Adults?
When I think about older adults in entrepreneurship, I imagine that the wealth of knowledge they have attained over the years will serve them well when venturing in the profession. I am not the only one with this thought process either. According to a report from Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, senior entrepreneurs have extensive work and life experience, deep networks, and an eagerness that continues to be largely untapped. If this has been studied and verified, it seems logical to dedicate additional resources to this age group.
There is overwhelming evidence and support that older adults are just as, if not more qualified to explore an entrepreneurial endeavor, and it is not difficult to see why. The Harvard Business Review disclosed that older adults are able to display emotional and intellectual stability in the workplace, making them more suited to be successful in unknown territories. Additionally, there are twice as many successful entrepreneurs over the age of 50 years old than there are successful entrepreneurs under 25 years old. Our older population is full of diverse life experiences that can help create an innovative, out-of-the-box concept, so how can we work to equal the playing field for this eager population?
During my research, I discovered the wealth of resources available for younger entrepreneurs, and it made me wonder why we have not done the same for older entrepreneurs. A simple search online will yield countless resources for young adults that are interested in the field. Unfortunately, the same search for older entrepreneurs did not bring back the same resources, indicating the need for more that are solely dedicated to older adults.
Using the resources that are easily found for young adults as a template, we can work to create those very same resources for older adults. Doing so can make it easier for them to learn about entrepreneurship. Whether that is through support groups, online help forums, or helpful articles, there is vested interest from this incredible group of individuals. We just need to work on providing them the information they may need to be successful.
The experience older adults have from years of being in the workforce does not go unnoticed by other working professionals either. Did you know that investors are more likely to spend their money with a start-up company that was created by an older adult? Not only do they have more experience as a professional, but they can back up claims with years of relevant work as well. In short, age should never be a barrier to becoming an entrepreneur, but a strength to utilize!
While innovation and creativity are oftentimes traits that are used to describe young adults with fresh minds, it is so important to remember that the essence of entrepreneurship is to create value while finding solutions to real-world problems. Part of being a successful entrepreneur is understanding current challenges more deeply. The sense of empathy that is required to be a successful entrepreneur is one that is learned through experience. This experience and wisdom is what older adults can use when beginning the journey of being an entrepreneur.