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Making annual holiday fruitcake at the Moores.
Making annual holiday fruitcake at the Moores.

Not All Entrepreneurs Are 20-Somethings

I never figured I'd really ever retire, but I never expected I'd be an entrepreneur at age 65.

I am 65 and an entrepreneur.

Who'd have imagined I be saying that at my age? We usually think of entrepreneurs as college drop-outs with a bright idea, burning with energy and eager to make a name for themselves. We've certainly given them plenty of role models: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg.

In fact, there isn't any reason why a Baby Boomer like me can't drive the same stake in the ground. In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that my generation is just as keen, if not more so, to take risks. I mean, for a lot of us, what do we have to lose?

When we thought our 401Ks would fund a comfortable retirement, the mortgage meltdown drastically devalued our nest egg, as well as scuttled what equity we had in our home. Then the retirement fund our company promised us vanished in a leveraged by-out. Next Congress and the President seem determined to chip away at Medicare and Social Security, our last safety net. So, I ask again, what have we got to lose?

And then there's the sheer invigorating challenge of building a business, maybe for the first time in our lives, from a dream, an idea, a perceived need that isn't being filled, a problem that begs for a solution, one that we think we have. There's no retirement age, like an airline captain, at which you are no longer entitled to care, to make a difference, and maybe make a little money in the process.

Shelley Emling recently wrote on Huffington Post, that we Baby Boomers have a lot going for us in entrepreneurial terms, including not just a life's worth of experience and well-honed skills, but even a greater sense of risk taking than the much-touted Millennials the media talks about so much.

A study conducted by Monster.Com, the job search engine and Mllennial Branding, described as a Gen Y research and consulting firm, surveyed 2,828 randomly selected Monster.com users. The study found:

" that 41 percent of Generation X employees (loosely defined as those between 30 and 49) and 45 percent of boomers (between 50 and 69) consider themselves to be more entrepreneurial compared with only 32 percent of Generation Y (between 18 and 29) workers."

But Emling isn't the only one noticing the rise of Boomer entrepreneurs. Writing on INC.com, Samuel Bacharach advises "mid-life' entrepreneurs how to 'make the most' of their experience. He writes:

Entrepreneurship need not and should not belong only to the young. Indeed, the hesitations, stereotypes, and ageism that can sometimes inhibit late-career entrepreneurs can be a detriment to the economy as a whole.

He offers four pieces of advice:

1. “It's never too late to be who you might have been.” Case study? Harland Sanders, age 65 and nearly broke parlayed a fried chicken recipe into a fortune we know as Kentucky Fried Chicken.

2. Remember that you have the advantage. "Older entrepreneurs often have deeper ideas based on experience and can better appreciate subtlety, nuance, and opportunity."

3. Partner with young people: They'll have a better sense of how to use today's communication channels from Facebook to SEO to get the business the traction it needs.

4. Use the internet to test, assess, and experiment. It's a great, relatively low-risk way to test your ideas and market products or services. Bricks 'n mortar can come later.

Out of the four, I am doing at least three of them [this web site should confirm that], and I think I have a pretty handle on #3, but I'd always welcome a few good Gen X and Y's who'd like to contribute their insights and maybe build a career helping create both a great business and making the world a little better, more sustainable place to call home.

And in case you're wondering about that photo of me elbow-deep into our traditional family fruitcake mix last December, I even have an idea of how to market it as a year-round treat, but that's the next venture; first I have to launch ePEDALER.

Posted By: Bill Moore [02-Apr-2013]