I’m a seniorpreneur. I’ve been running a business for longer than millennials have been alive. Obviously, I didn’t start out in business as a seniorpreneur. But everyone who starts a business will end up as one if they’re lucky to be successful. Being “old” in a new technological era presents challenges to be sure. But there’s a lot to be said for having significant perspective. Let me share some personal observations.
Landscape for seniorpreneurs
As a seniorpreneur, I’m not alone. According to one source, nationally those age 55-64 are twice as likely to start a business as millennials. AARP suggests that businesses founded by seniors are more likely to survive than those begun by younger people, due in part to their more conservative approach to managing cash.
Seniors who start businesses do so for many reasons. They may need the income, have a second act they want to pursue after retirement from a job, or they may want something challenging to fill their time besides golf, travel, or visiting grandchildren.
But many seniorpreneurs like me got started years ago and just want to continue doing what they do. One source says about 12 million baby boomers own a business. It goes on to say that about 70% plan to retire, leaving about 30% still in business. That’s a lot of seniorpreneurs.
What it was like to run a business when current seniors were the age of millennials
When I started my business—a law practice and writing activities—work proceeded at a slower pace. There were no fax machines, internet, email, smartphones, or overnight deliveries. Computers were in their infancy and printers has sprockets for rolls of paper. Communication with customers, clients, and other business associates took place primarily by telephone (referred today as landlines) and regular mail (referred today as snail mail). People didn’t expect immediate responses; they waited for answers.
Adapting to changing technology
Then came the Information Age and its attendant technology…computers with more memory that ran faster and internet access to information and communication. Business owners had to keep up with the changing technology, investing money to acquire it and time to learn how to use it.
Working with people in multiple generations
For seniorpreneurs, one of the things, both good and bad at times, is working with younger people. Work styles are different. Manners are different. Expectations are different. For me, many of the people I work with across the country have been great in terms of accepting me and my limitations. And I’ve learned a lot from working with younger people.
One of the best things about being a seniorpreneur is having perspective on things. When the economy is bad, it’s easy to recall similar instances in the past, what was done to handle matters, and the fact that the bad times passed. When the economy is good, it’s also easy to remember that it can turn bad at any time, prompting attention to limiting debt, avoiding wild spending, and saving for the future.
Perspective also helps you value certain things, such as long-term relationships with business associates. It also enables you to deal with some things that never change, such as government regulations (even though some come and go), taxes, and finding and retaining valued employees.
To seniorpreneurs reading this, glad you’re still in the game. To everyone else, hope you’ll join us.
As C.S. Lewis said: “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”