Young: Seniors surge to forefront of our entrepreneurial world

Seniors have surged to the forefront of the entrepreneurial world of late.

Lately, I have been presenting commentary to you concerning the various categories embedded in the existing Canadian entrepreneurship policy.

I have written about my dream to see our current Conservative government resurrect and recreate a policy and strategy that would be “bigger, better and reachable” to the very roots of entrepreneurial development in Canada, with the Okanagan Valley being a wonderful target for that strategy to be employed.

But, enough of my daydreaming for the moment, because I want to focus my column today on a very important segment of our population—our seniors.

Seniors have surged to the forefront of the entrepreneurial world of late, helping to create two new business terms—seniorpreneur and graypreneur.

The world around us continues to get older.

According to the United Nations, the number of people age 60 and over could reach two billion by 2050.

Seniors have become big focus for business, as a whole new market of products and services has surfaced targeted to the specific needs and interests of aging consumers.

This two-sided phenomena has posed some interesting and exciting opportunity channels for the adventurous.

One one side is the tremendous volume of aging customers, on the other is opportunities for seniors to branch out as seniorpreneurs.

While taking on the task of exploring some research tidbits for you, I stumbled on two headlines that really caught my attention in this regard: “In Life’s Second Act, Some Take On a New Role­—Entrepreneur,” and  “Entrepreneurship After Retirement—What’s Age Got To Do With It.”

These headlines really sum up for me a message of hope and faith that our aging population has discovered concrete options that can add productivity to their families and communities, and personal joy in their golden years.

One article I just read states that this seniors  business boom is reflective of more people 55 or older who seem to be rejecting the traditional model of puttering around a garden or golf course.

Many, however, have not simply hoped for a great second act, but carefully planned their transition from careers to a large dollop of serendipity to arrive at the threshold of an entrepreneurial venture.

Linda Wiener, an aging issues expert for Monster.com, the jobs search website, said recently: “It’s like a giant sea swell peaking under the radar —there are people who don’t want an hourly job, but wonder what they are going to do for the next 30 years.”

No longer are the rigors of entrepreneurship meant for the young and the restless.

Youthful energy has been dethroned by experience and pragmatism.

Increasingly, seniors close to retirement are attempting yet another life change through this entrepreneurial portal.

And guess what, they’re making their mark, making a difference

And why? In part because seniors have some level of prosperity and affluence, minimize financial risks as older people are not as impatient as our younger generation sometimes appears and can wait out their new venture outcomes.

Also, seniors possess, for the most part, a wealth of experience added to a sense of security and flexibility.

Like our fine Okanagan wine, seniors just get better with age.

Looking a little closer at what’s behind this phenomena, many seniors believe that launching an entrepreneurial venture is a progression of their careers, a new challenge.

Today’s generation of older Canadians is healthier than their parents and better educated.

The research is showing that older entrepreneurs can outshine their younger counterparts in several areas, making the self-employment option pretty attractive.

The talent and list of past accomplishment they bring to the table can contribute to a business marketing campaign.

And seniors may also have an easier time borrowing money or raising capital because they have had the time to establish credit and build financial resources.

Coupled with a fair share in possession of adequate computer skills, a home-based entrepreneurial venture presents some sound logic.

While there is a relatively substantial and growing body of research that looks at entrepreneurship in general, the senior entrepreneur and his/her role in the context of the  “new economy” has been relatively unexplored.

To me, this opens the door to tremendous opportunity for research and new venture creation.

Seniors and those committed to working with and adding value to the lives of our aging world envision entrepreneurship as a wonderful journey within which to embark.

So, if you are a senior contemplating an entrepreneurial self-employment option for the next chapter in your life’s journey, the Okanagan Valley Entrepreneurs Society and the plethora of business service providers are here to help you get started.

And I have a feeling you will still find some time for puttering in your rose garden and a few rounds of golf with a glass of our wonderful Okanagan wine. I know I will.

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