Which generation will start the most long-lasting businesses in the next ten years?
While it seems all the talk is centered on the entrepreneurial tendencies of Millennials these days, the much-cited Kauffman Report of 2015 states that Baby Boomers are actually in a better position to start and run a business, and are starting new businesses at twice the rate of Millenials.
Can you feel it? Entrepreneurship is in the air.
The native techies, those born between the late 70s and the early 2000s, are beginning to enter their 40s, the traditional “power age” for entrepreneurs and workers in general. Among these folks a whopping 67% of them have dreams of starting a business.
Alongside them, Baby boomers have always had an entrepreneurial streak, and that’s showing no signs of fading for at least the next 15 years.
So which group will lead in charge in forming new companies that last?
Many serial entrepreneurs from the boomer generation are on their second, third, even fourth business.
Many other baby boomers have tasted retirement and decided it’s not for them. As ever, they want to lean into new opportunities, to contribute and stay involved with idea-makers and dream builders like themselves.
With all the new ways to work, and the ease with which you can start a business these days, entrepreneurship is the smart way to create your work/life on your own terms, no matter what your age.
Here’s why I think Baby Boomer entrepreneurs will have an equal if not more profound impact in the start-up arena.
Sure, the rate at which baby boomers start businesses will slow as they age, but just as in decades past, my bet is that baby boomers will shape entrepreneurship in new and different ways we haven’t seen before.
And why not? Boomers are living better, healthier, and more vital lives longer than any generation before them.
In addition to the fact that there is hardly any barrier to entry, Baby Boomers have more financial resources to fund a new business.
While Millenials grapple with failure to launch and unprecedented levels of college loan debt, Baby Boomers are in a better position to start businesses. Even though they lost an average of 25 – 28% of their savings in the Great Recession — in fact, because so many saw their wealth diminish, they are motivated to stay in the workforce longer.
Due in part to the wide pool of technical talent emerging from the Millenial generation, it’s the Baby Boomers that will realize the inherent challenges and opportunities of aging, see the opportunities, and capitalize on them
A few months ago, Gary Varnerchuk of Vayner Media, released a video where he challenged people age 40+ to go for it. If you want to start a business, now is the time… You have every opportunity the kid in the hoodie has, he maintained.
While I agree that the opportunity is there, I also know from experience J that as the body ages, you draw more from other resources than youthful vigor and Hustle, which Vaynerchuk is famous for.
I believe baby boomer entrepreneurs are primed to show a different kind of hustle as they remake the start-up world to their requirements.
Why Baby Boomer Entrepreneurs Make an Impression
As a kid, I often played with the kids a few years older than me. It’s not surprising, then, that while I’m a few years shy of being a Baby Boomer myself, many of my clients have been Baby Boomers.
There are a few qualities I’ve noted that distinguish them from business-starters in the generations that follow them. Today, these qualities are every bit as valuable as the high energy and drive and natural technical prowess of Millennials. Besides having more wealth to act on their entrepreneurial ideas, Baby Boomers will shape the start-up landscape for at least the next 10 years for the following reasons.
- It’s personal. No offense, but they don’t call Boomers the “Me” generation for nothing. Baby Boomers are the center of their universe. It really IS about them. They didn’t cause that condition and it’s not their fault. No judgment here. They just don’t know what it’s like not to have all eyes on them.
The businesses they start are businesses they want to start; they have everything to do with their own interests, motivations, and preferences. As they move through their 50s, 60s 70s and 80s, they will remake what it means to age gracefully, and solve problems no one ever thought to address. And future generations will benefit by their efforts.
- They LIKE to tell stories. What does a killer company or brand have that mediocre companies do not? A strong, almost mythical storyline. Baby Boomers have never been a generation to keep their experiences to themselves, and they’re not going to stop telling those stories now.
With their generational flair for unfolding a narrative, new services and inventions will emerge to fill in gaps and add color to their stories. The rest of us will give their new ideas and experiences our attention.
- Baby Boomer entrepreneurs in the coming years will be thoughtful, thorough, and loyal. Relationships will take precedence over other factors. Needing the technical savvy of younger workers, they will value others’ expertise and listen to options culled from a diverse pool of talent. They will genuinely want to apply the right tools to the jobs at hand and get it right the first time.
- Their networks matter. Their many years of experience have earned them status and respect. They will use this influence to display leadership skills and set expectations for top-notch performance. They know many other experienced colleagues in a variety of industries to find information and get their questions answered. Personal referrals and insider information will be an important form of start-up currency.
- Baby Boomer entrepreneurs still read lengthy documents and articles. They don’t max out from information overload after two minutes. They can understand and absorb articles longer than 800 words. They will always have this skill as younger generations lose it. This will be one of their hidden superpowers. And by the way, they will keep reading and using email. (A client told me the other day, “I use email like you use twitter.”) This will challenge younger generations.
Because they have experienced business cycles (and heard stories from previous generations) of more extreme economic cycles, Baby Boomer entrepreneurs will be less distracted or challenged by crisis than their younger counterparts and team members. Their experience will make them wiser and more flexible than other business people. They will surround themselves with younger workers, and model how to roll with things, and their businesses will be stronger for it.
- They are passionate. Although they may not want to change the world, but they believe they are working on something that matters. Baby boomer entrepreneurs have the option of doing other things with their time; they are choosing to build businesses. They’re not likely to jump on the latest bandwagon or take just anyone’s advice merely to move one step ahead. The big picture matters.
We’ll see if I am right, but for now, these qualities are ones we like working with here at Content Boomer. As content marketers may more attention to the selectivity of their markets, and preferring quality content to sheer quantity; we feel the focused efforts of Baby Boomer entrepreneurs fit well with out goals, too.
[Tweet “Not tons of content, but unique, valuable content.“]
Less aimless hustle, more focused meaningful communication through well-placed content.
Our team looks forward to serving this intrepid generation of entrepreneurs.