Top Reasons to Start a Business at 50

Top Reasons to Start a Business at 50

by Sherry Ciurczak, December 2009
In generations past, people who were approaching age 50 typically thought more about retirement than quitting their jobs and starting a new business. But as it has for decades, the Baby Boom generation is turning traditional ideas upside down.

Instead of slowing down, many Boomers are thinking about entrepreneurship as a second career. According to the Department of Labor, Baby Boomers now account for more than half of Americans who are their own boss. Are you ready to join their ranks?

Why take the plunge?

You may have always dreamed of starting your own business, but you know it can be risky. The good news is that older workers have some distinct advantages when it comes to running a small business. They also have some unique considerations that younger workers don't share. Here are just a few of the advantages of starting a business later in life.

1. Financial Stability

Generally, older workers have more financial resources than freshly-minted college grads. They have a longer credit history and have typically built up more equity in a home, which can come in handy when setting up a business.

2. Contacts

If you've worked in a field related to the industry you wish to enter as a business owner, you probably have valuable contacts who can help you get started. Even if you are going into an unrelated field, you've built many relationships over the years that you can leverage as a new business owner.

3. Avoiding Age Discrimination

Despite federal laws prohibiting age discrimination, it still happens, and a laid-off older worker may have a hard time competing for jobs against younger workers. If you work for yourself, you don't have to worry about that. And if you're laid off from a company that you worked for long-term, a severance package can serve as start-up capital.

4. Experience and Energy

You've learned a lot over the years, and even if you are entering an entirely new industry, some of those life lessons will apply. That's an advantage. Also, people today are living longer, healthier lives than ever, so 50+ isn't necessarily the time to slow down. In fact, your most productive years could be ahead of you.

Another benefit is that many companies you do business with will respect your experience. Unlike younger entrepreneurs who have to build trust with companies due to their lack of work experience, you have a leg up over your younger competition since people associate age with experience.

Is Starting a Business Right for You?

Starting a business at any age is a risk. When you're your own boss, you are solely responsible for paying your taxes, putting aside money for the future and providing your own health care coverage. But the bottom line is that age should never be a deterrent. For millions of American entrepreneurs who are 50 and older, owning a business is a highly rewarding alternative to the daily grind...and to retirement.