We typically think of startups as being driven by young, dynamic forward-thinkers. Many are, but increasingly, many are being driven by gray-haired, dynamic forward-thinkers.
At last year’s Chamber Esprit Entrepreneur event, panelist Sue Kunz, with the ThriveOn Group, a company focused on the “longevity economy,” described the rise of older entrepreneurs:
Since then, the increase in older startup founders has received more attention. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation noted that, “Senior entrepreneurship is not a new phenomenon, but it is becoming increasingly prominent. Data analyzed by the Kauffman Foundation shows that Americans in the 55 – 64 age group have started new businesses at a higher rate than those in their twenties and thirties in every single year from 1996 to 2013. Businesses started by those ages 55 – 64 accounted for nearly one-quarter of all new businesses started in 2013, a share that has risen from 14 percent in 1996.”
Moreover, startups that included an older co-founder have tended to be more successful, at least measured by survival rates. Kauffman found that “firms surviving through 2008 were much more likely than firms that exited over the period to have primary owners older than age 45.”
Why is this happening, and why do seniors find success? US News gives several reasons.
- People are living longer, more energetic lives, and they want to stay active.
- Some older startups are “necessity” entrepreneurs, who may have unmet financial needs.
- Older entrepreneurs have more business experience and connections.
- Older entrepreneurs often have more financial reserves than younger ones
The fact is, older entrepreneurs are becoming more of a factor in the 21st-century economy. And that’s good for all.