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Building Business Muscles After 50, 60, 70 or 80

Determination, perseverance, curiosity - these are core qualities for an entrepreneur. In his book, Boomer Reinvention, John Tarnoff outlines what it takes to embrace your inner entrepreneur. He begins by stating:

“various surveys estimate that as much as 50 percent of all work will be done on a freelance basis within the next 20 to 30 years. This is becoming known as the “gig economy,” it effects all generations and requires an entrepreneurial spirit to navigate."

While many find this disruptive and difficult, Tarnoff makes the case that it is possible to develop one’s own entrepreneurial muscle.

Many older adults are experiencing age discrimination in the workplace. They go for interviews and hear they are over-qualified. Others are laid off due to downsizing. The job world can become discouraging. People lose their professional confidence and sense of purpose. Because of this, many turn their backs on the corporate world and start businesses.

"I am constantly delighted to see the expression of awe and wonder on the faces of older professionals starting their own business," Tarnoff told us. "Instead of giving it away to someone else's business, they're doing it for their own benefit."

Gone Fishing? Gone to Work!

Surprisingly, people over the age of 50 are opening the majority of all new businesses. Rather than hang up the ‘Gone Fishing’ sign, retirees reinvent themselves. They do work that they love. Some fulfill life-long dreams. Others, not able to retire, develop second or third careers.

This flies in the face of the cultural perception that one must be young to be a successful entrepreneur. It is not only the young who have a head full of ideas, are full of energy, and smart.

There is a cultural belief that unless we make our mark when we are young, we have missed our life’s purpose. But the fact is, experience gives the aspiring entrepreneur fabulous ingredients for success.

Older Entrepreneurs are Creative, Productive

Researchers are discovering that when we reach our 40s we begin to hit our stride. We are more productive and creative as we age. We exhibit natural traits that incline us toward generating and developing a life that is meaningful and productive. We are wired to want to make a difference with the time that we have on this planet. As we age, making a difference becomes increasingly urgent.

"As an older entrepreneur, the deck is actually stacked in your favor. You bring significant work and life experience to your new venture, and the wisdom and discernment that only accrues through age," John Tarnoff told The Longevity Network.

So, say “pish posh” to those who think a well-aged human is not sharp of mind, or current and inspired. Age brings a clarity of spirit and intention that is rare in the young. There is a level of self-knowledge that informs how we can best use our talents in a realistic and profitable way.

What's in Your Way? Find Out

For people feeling tentative, there are resources and support. There are mastermind groups and mentors for every business idea. In his book, Tarnoff uses worksheets to guide the reader through a logical process. You will discover what gets in your way, what you want to do and how to get started.

The emerging flurry of senior entrepreneurs is dazzling. Some are taking life-long hobbies and turning them into viable businesses. Some create businesses out of their kitchen, drafting table or workbench.

Research Says You're Better With Age

Older entrepreneurs include coffee roasters, condiment masters, designers and weavers, financial minds, master coaches, body workers, dancers, actors, and health practitioners. You name it, someone of a certain age is starting a business in every arena.

A secret of successful entrepreneurs is that their businesses are formed out of their passions. They are persistent, balanced and driven. Entrepreneurs know what they want to accomplish. They tend to be life-long learners. They can juggle different ideas and are open to having their thinking challenged.

Our ability to start a business improves with age! A 55-year-old is better equipped than a 45-year-old. The research is in the corner of the ‘old’ folks. The older you get, the better the odds of starting a company that will thrive.

"Older entrepreneurs are surprised to realize how much they know about starting and running a business. It feels second-nature, even if they've never done it before. All their hard-won wisdom and experience is now put to good use. They are capitalizing on lessons learned from all their years in the workforce" added Tarnoff.

Character matters more than age. Do you persevere? Do you take the initiative? Are you competitive, self-reliant, and confident? Well then, chances are that you will make a terrific entrepreneur!

Embrace your experience and point it toward the future that you want. Go for it!


John Tarnoff, Boomer Reinvention: How to Create Your Dream Career Over 50

National Public Radio, Aging Up

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Mind Over Matter: You are Never too Old to Start Checking off Your Bucket List

About the Author(s)

As a Volunteer Caregiver to the Zen Hospice Project and a Course Manager at the CareGivers Project, Audrey Meinertzhagen is passionate about improving the standards of care for older adults and educating caregivers on the principles of mindfulness and self-care.

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