Senior entrepreneurs listen to their inner voice

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Entrepreneurship isn’t new. We hear and read about it a lot. And it isn’t just a younger demographic. Older entrepreneurs are hitting the headlines, too.

Often called Senior Entrepreneurs, they’re also known as: Silverpreneurs; Maturepreneurs; and Greypreneurs—to mention just a few of the names.

In Australia, Swinburne University has estimated that Senior Entrepreneurship accounts for, approximately, 34% of all new businesses. The average age of a Senior Entrepreneur is 57 years.

The reasons for starting a business vary, but some common themes include: not liking ‘retirement’; an urge to explore their creativity; the satisfaction of creating an enterprise; a sense of achievement; and an opportunity to supplement their income.

In Ageing Well, George Valliant writes of men aged between 75 and 80 who are still working. Some of their comments will resonate with Senior Entrepreneurs:

‘I was bored so I started a new business’.

‘I like challenges, the people, the money’.

‘A writer writes, a painter paints, I enjoy teaching; this is what I do’.

About Senior Entrepreneurs

Senior Entrepreneurs are not necessarily risk takers and most don’t want to create a huge business. What they do have is experience(s), networks, skills and wisdom.

We’ve been fortunate to meet hundreds of Senior Entrepreneurs—and to write about this inspirational group. Businesses vary and range from: repairing and selling antique fountain pens online; making soap in a garage (and progressing to a small factory); using IT skills to build a subscription-based genealogical website; designing and making jewellery; dog walking; and taking groups of Australian women on walking tours in Europe.

Greg McKay, an inventor, created a manual crane bridge that can rotate, oscillate and articulate. He told me that ‘inventors never retire’.

‘I believe a true inventor is one who will always be looking laterally—who has the knack of seeing and achieving an easier way to do the job’.

Senior Entrepreneurship in Canada is also on the rise. One study said that since 1990 the number of entrepreneurs aged 50+ had more than doubled and that this was likely to increase.

Tom finds inspiration in a need

Canadian Tom Gibson’s experience was called upon when his son, Daryl, came to him asking for help with an idea he had. Tom had completed a Senior Entrepreneur program at the Community iLab in Oshawa and was interested in helping out.

Daryl was playing hockey when he had items stolen from his bag in the change room. He started to think a about ways to secure items when playing sport. That led to the creation of the HavlarGo-Safe. It’s a portable safe with a tethering cable so your valuables and bag can be secured.

Tom’s whole family is now involved in the business.

Why did they do it? Tom said, ‘My inner voice was telling me “don’t live with any regrets”.

‘You’ll find that a lot of people will try and talk you out of your entrepreneurial venture: you’re too old; don’t waste your money; that idea is stupid; that will never work; you don’t know anything about this; and on and on.

‘We’ve heard them all. Filter that stuff out, consider the source and take time to listen to your inner voice’.

Tom cautions about ‘underestimating the time and costs involved in bringing a new product to market’. And he reckons the ice hockey saying, ‘Leave nothing on the ice’ is apt.

Jill Weeks is the author of 21 Ways To Retire and co-author of Where To Retire In Australia and Retire Bizzi. She is a regular contributor to ABC radio. For more, go to:


Category: Activities, Planning, Retirement, Working

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