The State of Senior Entrepreneurship in Canada

SEASONS GREETINGS

With another New Year starting today I’d like to wish all of my friends and readers of this blog a very Happy Holiday season and a prosperous 2015 New Year.

INTRODUCTION

I have mixed feelings regarding what I am going to write about today.  To date I have already written 36 only blog posts about senior entrepreneurs and seniors issues in Canada and for the most part there seems to be very little interest in this subject matter.  Maybe I’m getting way ahead of myself and I need to have more patience. On the other hand, I think that the Federal & Provincial governments in Canada see the potential of senior entrepreneurship and how this area could improve the quality of life of Canadian seniors; but at the same time this cohort is basically ignored.

As a result, it appears that many Canadians 50 plus have enormous health, education, lifelong learning, and ‘productive longevity’ challenges. If seniors are not provided with adequate training resources and facilities I’m afraid that this group will find it easier to be stuck in the past OR just work and play alone because nobody cares to help them go to a higher level and find some opportunities to give back to society.

Is there any light at the end of this dark tunnel? Remember the popular TV show Star Trek? Instead of being stuck in the past, the Captain of the space ship Enterprise, William Shatner now 83 years old has not quit because of ‘old age’ just being comfortable on his ‘pasture land’, contemplating his past accomplishments.  Instead, William Shatner, a speaker, author and a seniorpreneur (senior entrepreneur or small business owner) is presenly working on a “Catch Me Up” book project.

Shatner advises that seniors need to embrace new technology and accept new challenges at a later stage of life. Seniors have skills and life experience that they can leverage to achieve great things. But in order to do that, they have to ‘catch up’ to the technology of the day.

LIFE REIMAGINED- CARP & AARP

I believe that there is a huge differents in real activities to help seniors and specifically on the topic of ‘Life Reimagined’ between CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) and AARP (American Association of Real Possibilities).

I believe that CARP is basically stuck in the past preferring to focus on getting more entitlements (Health Care) and Pension reform for Canadians rather than discussing and creating new initiatives to help seniors in Canada who want to become more active, creative, productive and prosperous in their pre-retirement or retirement life.  I’m still waiting for the day that CARP will facilitate some workshops for those Canadians who need some more help to shift from a passive retirement to a more productive and meaningful retirement.

Life Reimagined was launched by AARP (American Association of Real Possibilities) in 2013. Life Reimagined is a first-of-its kind source of online and offline experiences that guide people through life transitions by helping them discover new possibilities and connect with a community of people pursuing similar passions and goals.

Life Reimagined online centers on an exclusive, customizable roadmap available at http://www.lifereimagined.org that helps people understand where they are in their journey to achieve their goals and dreams, reflect, and make decisions in planning their next steps.  It also includes a ‘Sounding Board’- a new kind of private social network for people to surround themselves with trusted friends and allies.  Through the ‘Sounding Board’ and other connection tools members of the Life Reimagined community help each by offering advice and support to help reach their goals both big and small.  Life Reimagined Institute for Innovation, is a world class group of thought leaders in the areas of life and career coaching, psychology, personal development, health and entrepreneurship.

Question- What is  Senior Entrepreneurship?

This is my particular area of focus, passion and interest. I think that the leader in this field is my good friend, Elizabeth Isele of Wasington, D.C. who is the Founder and President of Senior Entrepreneurship Works.  Senior Entrepreneurship Works was founded in January, 2012, the organization, designed to help seniors age 50+ launch their own businesses has transformed into a Movement. For Canada to be involved in this Movement it’s critical for both CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) and Startup Canada based in Ottawa, ON to adopt some of the Life Reimagined and Senior Entrepreneurship ideas and principles; in order for Canadian seniors to become more active and creative producing meaningful projects.

The Movement is comprised of individuals, organizations, corporations and governments from all corners of the world across sectors in unlikely coalitions creating systems to boost economic self-reliance, vitality and growth for individuals, communities and the world.

Elizabeth’s Senior Entrepreneurship Works is strategically focusing on four pillars to grow and sustain this Movement and amplify it’s impact:

1. Entrepreneurship Education & Training Programs

2. Access to Capital

3. Advocacy and Public Policy

4. Research

The End goal of senior entrepreneurship is changing the negative paradigm of aging to one of positive and creative social and economic opportunities by activating seniors’ wealth of experience, wisdom and resources. This will drive our new economy through their business startups, and boost prosperity for all ages; as they pour investment dollars back into their own communities.

CONCLUSION

Today, I strongly believe that Canada is a long way from having the right kind of public policy to promote the new trend of ‘productive longevity’.  As a result, I think that the State of ‘Senior Entrepreneurship’ in Canada is hopeful because of the developments in the USA, but within Canada itself not I think that it’s not very good.

FUTURE BLOG ARTICLES

I’d like to dream that everything is fine, however; I think that there has been very little or no progress regarding Canada’s role and responsibilities in promoting ‘Senior Entrepreneurship’ and Lifelong Learning for Seniors 50 plus.

January 1, 2015 is an important date.  It means that now we can say that EVERY Boomer/Elder is at least 50 years old.  I’s now more crtical than ever to have something in place before this huge 50+ cohort approaches retirement, with a strong possibility that many seniors will have nothing purposeful and/or meaningful to do. I hate to see seniors being unimportant, invisable, politically weak, socially discountable, and economically insignificant.

Myself, I’m going to take an unspecified amount of time (sabbatical) away from my present blogging activities to focus more on RESEARCH in the area of ‘Senior Entrepreneurship’ and find out how in Canada we can take this subject to a higher level.  I will be able to study what is happening in REAL time in different countries around the World.

For those friends, readers and the leadership community who want more information about my ‘Seniorpreneur Project’ I have the following references:

1. My new book titled, Encore! Encore! Seniors (50 Plus) As Entrepreneurs: Their Time Has Come. (Available on Amazon.com)

http://www.amazon.com/Encore-Seniors-50-Entrepreneurs/dp/1493793608

2. My website- http://www.seniorpreneur.ca/

3. My Blog address- (37 Only Blog articles) https://seniorpreneur.wordpress.com

4. My Empire Avenue Site- http://www.tsu.co/seniorbiz

5. My e-mail address- joewasylyk@hotmail.com

Thanks for your interest.  If you want to leave any comments or any ideas about how we can expedite the 50+ entrepreneur movement in Canada please feel free to do so below.

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The 50+ Entrepreneur As The Inner Entrepreneur Having Different Expectations.

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.