Small Business Q&A: Entrepreneurs Just Get Better With Age

Dec 17


Tim Knox

Tim Knox

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Q: I'm thinking about starting a business after I retire ... I'll be 65. Am I too old to start a ... -- Milton A.A: Milton, ... on your pending ... I find ...


Q: I'm thinking about starting a business after I retire next
month. I'll be 65. Am I too old to start a business?
-- Milton A.

A: Milton,Small Business Q&A: Entrepreneurs Just Get Better With Age Articles congratulations on your pending retirement. I find it
admirable that after many years of hard work you are thinking
about starting a business. While most men your age would be
content to sit on the porch and watch the world go by, you are
considering a ride on the entrepreneurial roller coaster. You're
certainly tall enough to ride this ride, but are you too old?

Here's my standard answer: It depends. It depends on your health,
your energy, your drive, your goals, and of course, your finances.
If all those are in good shape and you have your spouse's approval
(that's a biggie), then there is absolutely no reason why you
should not start a business at your age.

In fact, the numbers are actually in your favor. According to
recent studies 22 percent of men and 14 percent of women over 65
are self-employed. That's compared to just 7 percent for other
age groups.

According to a Vanderbilt University study the number of
entrepreneurs age 45 to 64 will grow by 15 million by 2006.

That's compared to a 4 million decline for entrepreneurs age 25
to 44.

A 1998 survey of baby boomers conducted by the American Association
of Retired Persons (AARP) revealed that 80 percent of respondants
planned to work beyond retirement age, and 17 percent of those
planned to launch new businesses.

The study noted, "Self-employment among American workers increases
with age, with the most dramatic jump occurring at age 65."

Older entrepreneurs may also find starting a business easier than
their younger counterparts because older entrepreneurs tend to
have more experience to draw from and more assets with which to
finance a business.

Further evidence comes from a report released by Barclays Bank
entitled Third Age Entrepreneurs - Profiting From Experience.
The report shows that older entrepreneurs are responsible for 50
percent more business start-ups than 10 years ago. This amounts
to around 60,000 business start-ups last year alone.

The survey also showed that today's third age entrepreneurs (as
the report calls entrepreneurs over the age of 50) don't mind
putting in the hours required to build their business. Nearly
49 percent work an average of 36 hours or more a week.

Third agers also rated holidays, lack of stress and a balance
between work and home life more important than their younger

The report further showed that only 27 percent run the business
as the only source of household income, with 51 percent
supplementing their pension.

Other key findings showed that third age start-ups account for
15 percent of all new businesses, and third age entrepreneurs
are three times more likely to be male than female.
There is a downside (isn't there always?). Many businesses fail
within the first few years and older entrepreneurs may be less
able to handle the financial loss than younger entrepreneurs.

It's one thing to lose everything at 25, but it's a much bigger
deal to be financially ruined at 65.

So my advice, Milton, is that if your health and finances allow
(and the Mrs. gives the green light) by all means start your

Climb on the entrepreneurial roller coaster and hang on tight.

You get the senior discount, by the way.

Just try not to lose your lunch when things get bumpy and you'll
probably do just fine.

Here's to your success.

Tim Knox, Founder
For more information on starting your own online business visit, the website for online