After 30 odd years of catering to the marketing needs of fast-food giants, Franny Martin withdrew from the corporate world in 2002, to begin her own business. Cookies on Call, is now a thriving online business, with one storefront, and 61 kinds of handmade cookies.
Older corporate workers are realizing that they would rather be doing something other than what they do right now. They also realize that time on earth is getting shorter, and this kind of existential reflection strikes home for most baby boomers, now that they get nearer 60. Many of them, still toiling as wage slaves, are beginning to ask themselves what comes next, and whether there is something more in life. A growing number, choose to leave their current job, to start a new chapter, where they can be the boss.
Studies of older job seekers found that 13 percent chose to start their own businesses in the second quarter of life, and 86.6 percent of them were over 40. The next big wave of entrepreneurship is going to be from seasoned workers with more and more access to self-employment options, and people deciding to put off retirement and work later and later.
Government data also shows that the group of people, 55 to 64 years old or older, now represent one of the fastest-growing self-employed worker pools in the US. The group of do-it-yourselfers aged 65 and older has grown 18%, and baby boomers aged 45 to 54 years are practically a quarter of the 9.6 million self-employed. As a whole, baby boomers and older entrepreneurs account for a grand 54 percent of all the self-employed workers in the US today.
A combination of middle-age angst with personal fulfillment issues is turning out to be a big driver for boomer entrepreneurs. In addition, recent lay-offs and cutbacks, resulting in a loss of employment acts as a shake-up in many cases, providing boomers with the need to find another job, and the means for start-ups as well, in the form of a severance package. The financial windfall from severance packages or pension buyouts gives older entrepreneurs an edge, giving them capital that they can spend toward new business costs or use to get a larger borrowing power at the bank. Older, more mature individuals of this generation are also seen by lenders as good credit risks, especially when they have collateral to back up a small-business loan. Buying an already established business is easier and provides you instant goodwill and a customer base. There is a well-organized market for small businesses and brokerage networks where businesses are listed for sale.
Many workers find themselves stepping into their 60’s without the financial ability to retire. They can choose to dip into savings to maintain their lifestyle not leaving much for when disaster strikes, or continue to work. The huge costs of illness and healthcare are the biggest cause for concern. Their ability to pay for healthcare has diminished with rising costs, leading to a fear of winding up in a nursing home. Many also feel obligated to help their adult children, financially. All these factors combine to give baby boomers a good reason to keep working.