You may have heard about Barbara Beskind, who, at 91 years old, is finally realizing her dream as an inventor in Silicon Valley. Barbara’s been quoted saying that it might be one of the “best chapters in her life.”
Barbara isn’t the only one benefiting from entrepreneurship later in life. Many retirees are pursuing self-employment as a way to not only supplement their income, but to do something they have always dreamed of doing.
The Retiree Entrepreneur
As baby boomers reach retirement age, many are taking the opportunity to pursue their interests and form their own businesses. The number of boomers working into their retirement years is expected to increase, with several people either remaining at their current jobs, moving to part-time positions, or retiring to begin entrepreneurial endeavors.
This trend has emerged because of the recession, good health, poor retirement planning, and a number of other factors. The majority intend to keep working, whether for financial reasons, or because they finally have the freedom and time to put their passions into practice.
Retirement Age and Life Expectancy
For a long time, the average retiring age was 65. This was mainly because people started working in their early 20s and lived until about 70. At that time, the window of retirement was quite smaller than it is today.
Nowadays, as more youth are obtaining a post-secondary education, they are starting their careers later than usual (now, in their mid-twenties, as opposed to straight out of high school). The average retiring age has fluctuated, with several people retiring as early as 55, and as high as 65+. With a higher life expectancy of about 80 years of age, the retirement time frame has increased significantly.
Today’s Retiree is Reinventing Retirement
As a result of a higher life expectancy, the modern retiree is active and sharp. They stay busy because they feel healthier, and are in search of interaction, fun, and engagement.
It has also opened up many avenues for how retirees will spend their time. While there is still time to relax and do things such as travel, pursue hobbies, volunteer, and spend time with family, there has been a greater trend to continue working into retirement.
It may be that mature workers are putting off retirement until their early-to-mid sixties, or returning to work after declaring retirement because they simply cannot afford to sustain the cost of living. However, on a positive note, a good portion are leaving their day jobs and aspiring to start their own businesses by turning a hobby or interest into a money-making venture.
Society as a whole has supported the trend of self-employment, especially those who work from home, as it has become a viable career path, offering the benefits of lowered costs (e.g. overhead) and telecommunication.
Consequently, retirees have shifted away from traditional workplaces, and into more self-fulfilling projects, where they are their own boss.
In recent findings, many of the retiring baby boomers are pursuing knowledge-based fields, such as education or science, rather than physical activities, due to their experience, and the wisdom accrued over the years.
The desire to turn that experience into a money-making form of self-employment can be extremely gratifying, and actually has the health boosting effects of cognitive stimulation, which can be effective in warding off mental impairments later in life.
Retiring in Phases
Another trend has been the shift to a phased out retirement in which mature workers will slowly digress from full time workers, to part time, to one day a week, and so forth until they are retired.
This strays from the past trend of retirement, which was usually on a set end date. Additionally, less companies are expecting their employees to retire at age 65.
The end-goal is essentially the same, but a phased out retirement can make for a smoother transition for both the retiree and the employer, giving the employer time to find a replacement.
Reasons for Post-Retirement Entrepreneurship
Besides having the time and freedom to do something they enjoy, retirees also have the experience (and wisdom), lifelong connections, and ideas to turn their passions into a viable career.
A lifetime of experience can mean a wealth of ideas. With years of problem-solving skills under their belts, this can be a huge advantage in today’s market not only to sell their business ideas, but also to enlist clients or customers.
The modern retiree has also built up a long list of connections through their working years. Not only do these friends, colleagues, and acquaintances come in handy when setting up a business, but they can actually help accelerate the process, or give the individual an excellent referral.
Baby Boomer Entrepreneurs on the Upswing
As more individuals work past the age of retirement, there will be an increasing number of baby boomer entrepreneurs on the rise, pursuing the dream of starting their own businesses, and reaping the benefits of sustained health and freedom.
How do you plan to spend your retirement years? Will you keep working?