Jul 11, 2019

The Rise of the Baby Boomer Entrepreneur

A report published this spring revealed a surprising trend—most Americans who want to start small businesses are members of the Baby Boomer generation, a group that is now reaching the age traditionally associated with retirement.

The survey by small business financing company Guidant Financial studied over 2,700 aspiring small business owners. The researchers found that 51% of aspiring entrepreneurs were Baby Boomers, defined as people born between the years 1946 and 1964. The number of aspiring entrepreneurs in that age range has risen 18% compared to last year, the researchers said.  

Comparatively, the number of Millennials (generally defined as those born 1980 to 2000) who aspired to start a business actually decreased 28% over the last year to 19%. A yearning for entrepreneurship stayed about the same for Gen X (generally seen as those born from 1965 to 1979) at 30% of all the people surveyed.

“Small business ownership is the backbone of the US economy,” David Nilssen, the CEO of Guidant Financial, said in a statement. “It’s exciting to see how the DNA of America’s entrepreneur is shifting.”

It appears that Baby Boomers, who are now aged 54 to 73 year old, are some of the Americans most excited about small business operation.

Nilssen says many aspiring entrepreneurs pointed to a lack of funding as the reason they have not yet started a business.

“Conversely, it’s important to know what prevents them from fulfilling their dreams, and in so many cases it’s financing,” he said.

For older Americans, however, savings from a lifetime of work can provide a significant advantage over younger generations.

“Many Baby Boomers have the drive to keep going and build something of their own, and they finally feel stable enough financially to do so,” according to a report by the Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK), a research firm focused on generational trends.

Beyond often having some personal funds, Baby Boomers seem to be looking for a working life outside the usual corporate culture, CGK found. Additionally, work experience can be a valuable asset.

“Starting your own business allows for a flexible schedule, instead of having to report to a 9-5 job, usually with a younger boss at the helm,” CGK said. “They’re able to contribute to the economy with their years of knowledge in a particular field and are able to influence the next generation.”

While many Baby Boomers are turning to entrepreneurship as a way to enjoy their later years, undoubtedly some are starting businesses as a way to earn extra income above whatever retirement savings they have.   

“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,” claims Peter Daisyme, the cofounder of small business website hosting service Hostt. “The American Dream never ends, and Baby Boomers are finding that they are in the perfect position to build their own business.”

Regardless of the situation, Baby Boomers interested in starting a business should look at their age and experience as an asset, not a liability.

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About the author

Barry Eitel
Barry Eitel
Barry Eitel has written about business and technology for eight years, including working as a staff writer for Intuit's Small Business Center and as the Business Editor for the Piedmont Post, a weekly newspaper covering the city of Piedmont, California.

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