The new trend is as Boomers/Elders reach their retirement stage, many will turn to business and/or social entrepreneurship as their next adventure.
The New Entrepreneur
Patrick and Adrienne Duffy (1995) in their book titled, ‘Pathway To Freedom’ explain that “Entrepreneurism” is not a new concept, but is is one that has gained new meaning in the evolving economic structure of our times. Indivduals who claim sovereignty over their lives and begin to develop organizing structures of their own will be taking the first steps toward the entrepreneurial approach that will spell success- in every sense- in the new economic order.
Furthermore, the Authors say that it is helpful to think of the successful entrepreneur of the future as composed of two seperate but closely related elements. The first, the Inner Entrepreneur is the internal life which us to learn about ourselves, to imagine what we want, and to visualize and then create the opportunites through which we will attain our goals. The External Etrepreneur is the outer manifestation of our entrepreneurial spirit, and it is visible in enterprises which create economic value and results.
The Inner Entrepreneur
In my own recent discussions with other enterpreneurs it is often metioned that there is no difference between a 50+ entrepreneur and those entrepreneurs under 50. I think that the 50+ entrepreneur has different expectations. I have a couple of examples to illustrate some of the different expectations regarding a 50+ business entrepreneur and a 50+ social entrepreneur.
a) 50+ Business Entrepreneur (Bruce Bohrmann, 80+)
A 50+ business entrepreneur, Bruce Bohrmann, 80+ started small but later was thinking big. Bruce is the Founder of the Herbie Project that started when the oldest and biggest tree in a New England community was cut down. Bruce immediately saw this old Elm tree as an entrepreneurial busines opportunity. With the help of local Government officials the discarded tree became the major raw material for Bruce’s own custom-made knives the handles carved using pieces from the certified Herbie Elm Tree. Initially, Bruce made and sold these knives in the local community market, just making and selling one knife at a time.
In reality, I think that most 50+ entrepreneurs stop at this lower level of business activity especially if they are working alone on their small business. Bruce Bohrmann, although being a very talented wood craftsman did not have adequate business skills and was virtually computer illiterate. It’s necessary that 50+ entrepreneurs get outside mentoring and/or coaching help to take them to a higher level.
Now, Mr. Bohrmann at the age of 80+ was in a dilemma. Most seniors Bruce’s age or younger would probably never consider business expansion especially if they are working alone. Bruce was an Inner Entrepreneur but wanted to take some risks and to learn something new that would help him get to the next higher level.
Bruce Bohrmann was very fortunate to be living in the USA where there are mentors/coaches specifically for the 50+ Entrepreneur among ‘other’ categories of entrepreneurs. In Canada, I think that we must upgrade the human an financial resources required to advance the entrepreneurial activities to a higher level for the benefit of the 50+ entrepreneur.
Bruce got mentoring help form the Score.org Foundation in the USA. Bruce was a real Inner Entrepreneur that needed to learn to also be more of a External Entrepreneur and expand to reach customers outside his local market community. Score.org provided the necessary knowledge for Bruce to buy a computer and learn to use it, be knowledgeable about e-commerce and set up a proper website, and be instructed in subjects like price negotiation strategy.
After one year of hands-on mentoring Bruce became very successful and also got The 2012 Score Award for outstanding small business (Bohrmann Knives) launched by Individual 50+.
b) a 50+ Social Entrepreneur (Yolanda Schon, 56)
Briefly, on the social entrepreneur side regarding the 50+ entrepreneur, Yolanda Schon, 56, a Venezuelan immigrant who owns a ‘Senior Helper’ franchise in Miami, Florida said that, “I want to still keep control and have input on everybody we hire so I feel comfortable with that person.”
Yolanda bought the ‘Dementia Care’ business in 2008, using pension funds and a second mortgage on her home after she was laid off from a job in the building industry. Her close-knit family is supportive but they also depend on her financially, which makes her “a little bit more fearful about taking more risk.” in expanding the business, which also employees 25 and is on track to bring $500,000 this year. Yolanda is somewhat unique where her workers are not self-employed sub-contractors but all are employees.
Of course, Yolanda is already successful but maybe she still should have access to a suitable mentor/coach just to keep her on track and see if her current goals and objectives are the right ones for the future.
Senior Support Network
The concept of a support network for Adults(50 plus) who are beginning to start second or third life activities will be very important for the Boomer/Elder generations. This network hopefully will be available on the Internet to support collaboration, creativity, and innovation. Also, I believe that more Adults 50 Plus need to increase their computer and financial literacy to get the most benefit in their retirement life.