The Center for Productive Longevity (CPL), which serves as the bridge between people 55 and older and opportunities that enable them to continue in productive activities, recently wrapped up its last meeting in the “Spotlight on Entrepreneurship Opportunities for Baby Boomers” series. These meetings attracted more than 400 participants 50 and older to the four meetings in Kansas City, Mo., Boston, Chicago and Denver.
There are 78 million Baby Boomers (one-quarter of the total U.S. population) reaching the traditional retirement age of 65 at the rate of 4.2 million each year from 2011 through 2029. With unemployment high and economic growth low for the foreseeable future, new-business creation is a bright spot on a gloomy employment horizon for older people. A survey sponsored by AARP in 2011 indicated that 80 percent of the Baby Boomers surveyed intend to continue working after leaving their regular career jobs. This series of meetings is on the leading edge in encouraging Baby Boomers to consider the benefits and opportunities of new-business creation as they consider how to remain productively engaged.
This interest in entrepreneurship as a career after retirement is reflected in national research as well, with increasingly more people 55 and older creating their own businesses than people 20-34. In fact, according to Kauffman Foundation research, the relative percentage of entrepreneurs has increased by almost 7 percent for people 55-64 from 1996-2011, the largest increase among all age groups. By contrast, the percentage dropped about 5 percent for people 20-44.
“This is what built America! Individuality, capitalism, inventiveness, and the freedom to create your own business,” stated Karen Rose, a participant in the Denver meeting. “This meeting reignited passion in so many of us, along with providing educational avenues to turn passion into success.”
Tom Backhus, another participant in the Denver meeting, said, “The event has given me confidence in moving forward and ideas on the importance of writing my business concept.”
Each meeting had presentations by successful, highly visible entrepreneurs such as Jerry Kelly, CEO and Co-Founder, Silpada Designs, Doug Rauch, former President and CEO, Trader Joe’s, Larry Levy, Founder and Chairman of Levy Restaurants, and Alan Hall, Founder and Chairman, MarketStar.
Participants also attended interactive breakout sessions on topics relating to new-business creation and how to become an entrepreneur, including: risks and rewards, strategies for identifying and selecting potential business opportunities, developing a business plan or business concept statement, and exploring funding support.
Written evaluations from all of the meetings indicated that participants benefited and were even inspired by their experience. Almost all participants reported that it increased their understanding of the benefits and opportunities provided by entrepreneurship, and 74 percent stated they were now more likely to create a new business as a result of the meetings.