Founders in their 50s and 60s are the fastest-growing segment of entrepreneurs. Here are 4 distinct advantages of the older entrepreneur.
At Nextavenue.org, [ http://www.nextavenue.org ] the PBS-system website, dedicated to help people 50+ thrive, we’re huge fans of seniorpreneurs. In fact, many of the articles and blog posts in our Work & Purpose channel deal with starting and growing a business after 50. Some offer advice from experts or from entrepreneurs; some profile men and women who followed their instincts and passions to launch businesses in midlife or later.
The reason we write so often about, and to, this group? They’re a growing force in the world economy. As readers of Seniorpreneur likely know, founders in their 50s and 60s are the fastest-growing segment of entrepreneurs, according to the Kaufmann Foundation.
I’ve also come to believe that 50+ entrepreneurs have four distinct advantages over younger ones, about what they know:
They know people. After decades of work, people in their 50s and older have forged useful relationships with people who could help them launch and grow businesses. These people might be potential customers or suppliers; investors; financiers or board members. Alternatively, they could provide keen marketing insights or perhaps tips on available real estate for the new companies. Young people just starting out lack such broad networks.
They know what has worked — and what has flopped. Avoiding mistakes is key to succeeding with a startup, so the more knowledgeable you are about your market and customers, the less chance you’ll stub your toe. Whether someone has worked in the field his or her business will be in or has been a consumer of its products or services, that kind of background can be a giant benefit that a younger person couldn’t have.
They know they have to do this. Yes I realize that employers often knock older employees for lacking engagement and stamina. And they may be right in some cases. But 50+ entrepreneurs are just the opposite: They are eager to start companies precisely because they’re passionate about them. In some cases, their startup businesses are just what they need to recharge and resemble their younger selves.
Most of all, they know themselves. Once you’re past 50, you’re keenly aware of your strengths and weaknesses — in a way that someone 25 is just trying to figure out. This self-knowledge helps you determine the types of associates you need to compensate for areas where you’re deficient. You know you don’t know everything and can’t do everything and you’re fine with that because you can find people who can fill in the blanks.