More Than Money: 3 More Reasons for Seniors to Start a Business

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One of the most remarkable trends in recent years has been the explosion of senior entrepreneurship. In 1996, 14.8 percent of new entrepreneurs were ages 55-64; in the latest data from 2014, that number is 25.8 percent, the second largest demographic age group just a sliver behind the 45-54 age bracket (26.6 percent). And a higher percentage of that 55-64 age group are starting businesses than any other age group.

There are a lot of reasons for that, including financial as people look for additional sources of income. But there are many other reasons seniors are starting businesses. Here are three more reasons to start a business—and why you might start a business, too.

Keep Skills Sharp

We all gain and develop skills over our lifetime. And it can be difficult to simply put them aside and stop using them once we hit retirement age. Things we’ve been doing our whole life become important to us, and letting skills gradually diminish with disuse is unpleasant. So many seniors start businesses that allow them to use their skills and knowledge, to stay sharp. Someone who worked in an industry for a long time might go independent, or start a consulting business that keeps those skills in play. So entrepreneurship can be a way to hold onto valued abilities.

Learn New Things

But it’s not just about holding on to what we have. Starting a business is also a way to learn something new. There is always more to learn, and entrepreneurship often requires us to do new things and pick up new ideas. There are new business skills. The accountant learns how to market and find customers. The marketer learns how to manage finances and legal requirements. The engineer learns how to use social media. There are also new industries and skills in general. What was once a hobby or side interest—or even something one didn’t know much about at all!—during earlier years might become the focus of a brand new business.

Live a Vocation

For seniors who are looking for more financial security, a business is a way to earn additional income. But even if you are confident in your nest egg, a business can be an important addition to your life. A business doesn’t just have to be a way to pay bills; it can also fulfill a calling your life. Work doesn’t just have to be toil; it can be a vocation. When you are able to do something that is both personally fulfilling and financially rewarding, there’s no better place to be. And personal fulfillment and vocational living never go out of style.

If you’re considering starting a business, there’s no better time to get started than now. And the Tarkenton Certificate in Entrepreneurship is a great way to learn both the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and the practical necessities of starting and running a business.

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6 years ago

I have a product. I will send this to you, no charge, to see if there is a market for my product.
Please send me a mailing address and a name. Thank you, Woody

Tricia T. Hunter
6 years ago

I am a Senior, at age 72, and want to list a VERY important reason for Senior entrepreneurships. And that is the worry that Social Security will not be there when I am in my doddering years. I have owned my own businesses since the 1970s—which means paying DOUBLE Social Security payments (employer & employee). Twice, my husband and I have set up a retirement program, and both times a government inspired recession destroyed those plans. My husband, age 75 this year, and I do not make enough monthly income with our Social Security to live on so we HAVE to continue working in order to survive. The government donates billions of dollars to countries that hate us, but threatens that Social Security will run out of money soon. That money was TAKEN out of my hard earned income with the promise that it was in a Trust that would be there for us when we could no longer perform in the workplace. THIS IS NOT AN ENTITLEMENT, but rather a mandatory investment. So, I continue to work with my business as does my husband. My concern is what happens if I can no longer work due to health problems or am just physically unable to do the work when I am in my 90s? I would do a lot better if I could get on welfare. How sad is that?

6 years ago

Hi Tricia,
I do so agree with you and especially your remark about entitlement of Social Security.
I am 82 and just self-published a book. Good luck to you. You sound spirited. Keep your talents honed.
Keep in touch.

Robert Goncz
6 years ago

Is there any analysis of the businesses that seniors have found to be most successful?

Tricia T. Hunter
6 years ago
Reply to  Robert Goncz

Robert you need to do a little research in your area, but I have found that the best businesses for retired seniors are those that the owner totally enjoys. Then it doesn’t feel like work, but is a fun thing to do. Just make sure there isn’t any heavy lifting! If success to you means making huge amounts of money, there have been official and unofficial studies done and, again, a little research via google or your local library should be rewarding. Success is “in the eye of the beholder” and it iisn’t always monetary.

Robert Goncz
6 years ago

Thanks for the response, Tricia. In part of my previous life I owned and operated a consulting and training company. At this time in my life the marketing requirement is NOT something I can get excited about. However, there were rewards from a successful project that went beyond monetary (as you have suggested). I then went to work for an international consulting firm and left the marketing to someone else. I will have to see if there is an opportunity that has more of the positive with a lot less of the negative. Thanks, again.

Tricia T. Hunter
6 years ago
Reply to  Robert Goncz

Robert, it sounds like you are considering a business in the same or similar field. As Seniors, we have to realize that we do have a lifespan limit on this planet. Why not try something different? Something everyone tells you is silly or ridiculous…and then prove them wrong. THAT is sooo satisfying! (been there, done that!) I went back to what I dreamed about as a teen, which was impractical at the time, but now with the experience and knowledge I have gained over the years with other careers, I am doing what I love to do AND I proved all the naysayers wrong. Surely there is something that you would love to do, but are holding yourself back because it sounds unsophisticated, silly, or “what would people think.” What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time? A hobby? A recreational idea you can develop? What is your FUN thing to do? As a child, what did you want to be or do when you grew up? What is the thing that you always wanted to try? C’mon, be a risk taker! As Seniors, this may be our last chance to do something wild and crazy (and immensely satisfying) before we are called to the “great beyond!” I fully intend to check out with No Regrets!!
Wouldn’t it be fun to meet for a cup of coffee and brainstorm all the possibilities for you? Since that probably isn’t an option, you will need to do that on your own. Let me know what you come up with!

Robert Goncz
6 years ago

Thanks again, for your response, Tricia. I am sure you are correct regarding the probability of a joint brainstorming session (unless you are in the Myrtle Beach, SC, area – my area retirement area of choice). Reviewing my teen years might resemble a review of pre-historic history, albeit with some positive memories. Having said that, I know from personal experience that this kind of review can/will create new personal goals (and without goals what is a heaven for). I don’t know with whom I can conduct this kind review but I will endeavor to keep you informed as to the results. New goals will keep you young, right?

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