The Demographics Of New Venture Founders Are Changing

baby-boomer-demographicsContrary to what you might guess, the highest rate of small business and entrepreneurial growth over the last few years is not Gen-Y upstarts, but Boomers over the age of 50, now called encore entrepreneurs. In fact, according to the latest trend data and press reports, these Baby Boomers have grown yearly to 41 percent of small business owners, second only to Gen-X, at 44 percent..

Some people are calling business ownership the ‘new mid-life crisis’ for the 72 million-strong demographic once thought to be over the hill. Partially due to the pandemic, but also due to longer, healthier lives and changes in job tenure, Boomers are now expected to stay in the labor force longer, and according to projections, could actually dominate the labor market by 2024.

Here are some indicative business ownership facts from recent trend data and other projections. These could convince you that the correct icon for an entrepreneur may now have gray hair, rather than the warm glow of youth:

  • The percent of entrepreneurs who are Baby Boomer starting a business in the last few years has grown by 18 percent year-over-year, with more than half (51 percent) now making up the aspiring small business owner pool.
  • In every one of the last 15 years, Boomers between the ages of 55 and 64 have had a higher rate of entrepreneurial growth than Gen-Y, aged 20–34.
  • Additionally, research has revealed that the average age of the founders of technology companies in the United States is a surprisingly high 39 - with twice as many over age 50 as under age 25.
  • While people under 30 have historically jumped from job to job, another striking development has been a deep drop in the incidence of ‘lifetime’ jobs among men over age 50.
  • With longer life expectancies and greater health in later life, older generations are moving to start new firms -- and mentor young entrepreneurs. One new incentive is the falling transaction costs and barriers to entry for entrepreneurs of every age.
  • 83 percent of online users aged 50-64 use social media now, and the growth rate continues to increase. Social networking penetration by Boomers is now catching up with the other age groups, reaching nearly 90 percent across the board.
  • In the U.S., immigrants are almost twice as likely to become entrepreneurs as native-born U.S. citizens. Immigrants represent 27.5 percent of the countries' entrepreneurs but only around 13 percent of the population.

In addition, the Boomer demographic is also creating a slew of new market opportunities, including improved healthcare facilities, construction of senior-friendly facilities, and technical support for seniors, by seniors. What all of this means is that Boomers will have more impact and power in the marketplace for a lot longer than most people expected.

Since new businesses are a key driver of economic growth, this should bode well for America, and for world economic growth as well. In terms of job creation, innovation, and productivity, entrepreneurs drive growth. Many Boomers have the purchasing power and become enthusiastic early adopters who help lead the way. They are becoming the new early adopters.

Of course no one has any idea what the next big thing will be, but more often than not innovation comes from entrepreneurs. If you are one of the Baby Boomers who wants to redefine retirement, now is your chance for real impact. Find an opportunity you understand, follow your passion, and join the entrepreneurial majority.

Marty Zwilling

The Demographics Of New Venture Founders Are Changing