Older Americans have been starting businesses during the pandemic and making them a success. In fact, they are the most active new business owners in the country, according to nextavenue.com. About 80% of small business owners are over 45, according to the New York Fed.
It makes sense that they would be successful. They have years of experience and a wealth of knowledge to bring to the table. When the pandemic hit and a lot of older workers were affected, many decided to start the businesses they had long dreamed of running.
Moreover, older people often have access to more startup cash than younger ones. Even without dipping into a retirement account, they may have the savings, credit and connections that are needed to survive and thrive.
Older people drive innovation
Nextavenue points out that the narrative of innovation often focuses on young people. They’re inexperienced, so they don’t have bad habits yet. They believe in themselves – sometimes to an alarming degree. They’re disruptive. They don’t know what they don’t know.
However, a closer look at the actual drivers of innovation shows that people 40 and over play a lead role in the process.
According to researchers at MIT and the U.S. Census Bureau, the average age of a startup entrepreneur is 42. And, despite the conventional wisdom, the average age of a technology entrepreneur is 40.
Real innovation may actually require experience
Some companies create something no one has ever seen before. They meet a need the consumer didn’t know they had. They even create that need. But doing that is for outliers.
Bread-and-butter innovation more often involves improving on an existing solution or resolving a nagging problem. Age and experience may be needed to understand the problem to be solved.
According to one Northwestern University professor who specializes in entrepreneurship, people in their 30s and 40s do tend to be the ones who come up with breakthrough innovations. But people five and six years older – mid 40s or later – are more likely to come up with “great achievements,” which are solutions to long-term problems that have escaped other startups.
Older people are especially likely to innovate in these areas:
- Bringing new products to market
- Developing new processes and approaches to problems
- Bringing together a team to make the innovation viable
Get the support you need to succeed
If you’re interested in entrepreneurship, a good business lawyer can offer significant insights and advantages from setting up the right business entity to preventing and resolving disputes. Make connecting with a business attorney a priority.