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Boomers: The Unexpected New Wave of Entrepreneurs

Business.com / Last Modified: February 26, 2018
Photo credit: stockfour/Shutterstock

As baby boomers approach retirement age, many are exploring an exciting new life and career path: being an entrepreneur.

Baby boomers were the generation most responsible for the 20th century megasurge in advancement, achievement, inventions and innovation. The years 1900 to 1999 comprised a succession of quantum leaps in all areas: money, health, education, technology, societal paradigm shifts and more. Yet, almost two decades into the 21st century, there have been very few major steps forward. Why is this phenomenon happening now?

Boomers grew up with the mentality of a cookie-cutter life plan. If your dad was a dentist, then optimally, this would be your career path. If your family ran a business, then it was a given you'd be the successor. 

Societal pressures, standards, beliefs, morals, and a much more restricted mindset gave little room for stepping out of the box and paving your own road. It was really a few trailblazers who were brave enough to go against the status quo.

Fast forward to 2018. That "I can be anything I want" childlike outlook is a reality for most of us in the developed world. Boomers are now just warming up to that idea, and we're about to see decades of wisdom collide with unbridled freedom of expression. That's a recipe for an all-star entrepreneur.

In my own business, the past two years have seen a massive influx of boomers coming to see me as a client to seek advice about one thing: careers. No longer are the expected "retirement in droves" going to occur with this particular generation, as we once assumed. Oh no. We're poised to see a landslide of older, wiser, experienced entrepreneurs hitting the scene.

There's one major flaw in all of this, and it's the issue of bridging the gap between their lack of tech-savvy abilities (as a whole), the tendency toward an old-school sense of business operations, and the lingering tinge of fear whispering to them, "Is this normal? Shouldn't I be retiring?" 

Many of the boomers showing up at my office are women (90 percent +), and all of them say the same thing to me: "Michelle, I've worked this job all my life, and now I want to do X." The X is always stepping away from a job and into the world of entrepreneurialism. Most feel like they must have taken a wrong turn, missed the boat or just plain lost their mind. After reassuring them (multiple times) they're at the right time, place, and moment in their life to do X, and further explaining the why behind it all, their fire is lit and thus it begins.

Jobs are going to be scant later down the road. However, with more of an entrepreneurial-based society emerging at the same time, what does this mean for the economy? How we obtain services and goods, importing/exporting between countries – the whole nine yards? Currency as we know it will eventually be replaced by more of a "bartering system." Not your primitive kind of bartering like during the horse and buggy days but a new era of bartering, as more unique, eccentric entrepreneurs dominate the business world.

As more boomers realize their true passion and purpose, there is an excitement in the air that something monumental is about to hit. 

Are you ready? I sure am.

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