Could you be a ‘silver start-up’ entrepreneur?

Being a senior citizen is no impediment to starting a business these days.

Seniors are starting new businesses at a higher rate than younger entrepreneurs.

By Jess Walter

Every day we learn about the most recent swathe of high-tech start-ups and the success stories of youthful entrepreneurs behind today’s new global institutions. With the likes of Google, Twitter, and Instagram, you could be forgiven for believing that everyone launching a business these days is a twenty-something or even a teenager. What will be the next disruptive idea to change our lives?

More senior business owners

In fact, people who are 55 to 64 years old constitute the largest percentage of new business owners in the United States. While some of these entrepreneurs launch online businesses like ecommerce ventures and build successful smartphone apps, many others focus on old-school enterprises where they see a need in their local community or a gap in the general market that others have overlooked.

Seniors building businesses at a higher rate

Indeed, contrary to popular belief, you may be surprised to learn that senior citizens have been creating new businesses at a higher rate than younger entrepreneurs for many years across the USA.

Seniors launching their own business may simply stumble across a need or an idea that can be turned into a business. It may happen after discussion with local people saying ‘someone should do something’ about a community issue. In many cases the prospective entrepreneur will look at their work experience to find a way to make money on a self-employed basis. This is where seniors have the advantage, as they will inevitably have a far broader experience of work and life than a younger person.

Resources and guides

If you are a would-be senior entrepreneur, there are a wealth of information resources online to guide your next steps and help ensure that your enterprise flourishes. There are many areas to be aware of, and this kind of research should be carried out relentlessly to ensure that you have your finger on the pulse of the most useful tools and strategies.

‘Bricks and mortar’ businesses

Retirees going into business should consider their circumstances and do what would suit them best. A shop or office needs to be manned regularly to maintain a good presence. If you cannot be there, you will have to find a volunteer or pay someone who needs to be trained and interested in the business. The person would also need to be reliable, honest, and trustworthy.

Online businesses

If a business can be set up and managed online, there are many advantages. You can be located anywhere in the world and you can work from home and still run your business. Regardless of whether you’re an early morning person or a night owl, having an online business enables you to make good use of the hours that suit you.

Art Koff is a Chicago-based entrepreneur in his eighties who retired in 1997. He is a classic example of a retiree who went on to build a successful business online. His website features retirement advice and ideas for seniors starting their own business. RetiredBrains has been featured in some of the biggest newspapers in the USA.

Intergenerational interaction

Many successful start-ups have a mixture of senior and young talent, and do well because of this. A few grey-haired heads on deck often keep a new business running on the right course. With the perfect balance of experience, vision, contacts and energy, your new venture should be innovative enough to keep up with the times. This will ultimately benefit the business, its supply chain partners and, most importantly, its customers.


Jess Walter is a freelance writer and mother. She specializes in the business and finance sectors with a real passion for entrepreneurship and small business. She loves the freedom that comes with freelance life and the additional time it means she gets to spend with her family and pets.

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