You may not realize it, but if you are 50 years or older and thinking about starting a new business, you are in good company — and just might have a bright, wealthy future.
“Studies have found that the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs are people older than 50 years — and especially women,” said Kerry Hannon, author and personal finance expert.
Hannon will be the keynote speaker at Howard County’s annual expo for older residents. The event, titled “Master Aging,” will take place on Saturday, October 19, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the campus of Howard Community College.
Hannon, 58, has written 13 books, published numerous articles, and has appeared on national TV and radio giving advice about career transitions, entrepreneurship and personal finance.
She will speak at the event about what factors could motivate someone in mid-life to start up a business. Her presentation, followed by questions from the audience, will touch on how a midlife business owner could prepare to launch a new enterprise, some of the risks of starting a business in retirement, as well as the joys of being an older entrepreneur.
Older = more success
In a recent article in Forbes magazine, Hannon wrote that a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management found that “successful entrepreneurs are middle-aged, not young.”
Hannon noted that the investigators found that, contrary to what “many observers and investors propose, the highest success rates in entrepreneurship come from founders in middle age and beyond.”
She said the MIT findings confirm what she also has learned through “studying and interviewing midlife entrepreneurs for more than a decade.” Women in and around their 50s are especially successful in becoming their own business bosses, she has found.
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Hannon, who will be talking at the event about her latest book, Never Too Old to Get Rich, said in a recent interview that the book focuses on how older adults can succeed when starting up a new business.
She will also give tips on how to begin to get rich “on the inside” — by doing something that will benefit society (say, starting a solar-panel business) — as well as on paper.
“The richness you achieve by being your own boss is more than more zeros in your bank account,” she said. “The key is the inner richness that comes from doing work that energizes you, with people who make your life richer, and making an impact in the world in some meaningful fashion. That’s genuine wealth,” Hannon said.
Have a plan and network
Hannon will be outlining general steps toward making a business plan “for those feeling inspired” to be their own bosses as they live longer lives, she said.
Among other things, Hannon suggests that older entrepreneurs should “soul-search” so they have “a solid MRI” of their own passion, personality, talents and inner drive to start a business.
Also, they should do research so that they will know “what it will take to really do this in terms of time and money.” They need to figure out a strict starting budget, since “debt is a dream killer,” she said.
Networking is essential for older new business owners, too, she added.
“I can’t overemphasize the importance of networking to help your business get off the ground and grow. Your network, your tribe, your believers are the ones who are going to propel you forward to success.
“Network with people doing work in the field you are eyeing. Ask how they got there, how they do their jobs, what they love about it,” she said.
Hannon agreed that “not everyone is wired to be an entrepreneur” in later life, but noted that many recent successful startups involve “senior-junior partnerships” where a 50- or 60-something boss pairs up with a 20s or 30s go-getter to share the direction of the business.
A new type of event
After two decades of being known as “the 50+EXPO,” the annual event presented by the Howard County Office of Aging and Independence has changed its format as well as its name.
“Our Master Aging event is going to make a statement: In Howard County, everyone can age with dignity and enjoy the very best quality of life,” Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said in a statement. “The future of our community will be age-friendly, building on our strengths to provide the highest quality resources that enrich your lives.”
The event will still feature vendors and exhibitors. And for those who have become accustomed to seeing the Capitol Steps perform at past expos, they will return as well for a 2 p.m. show. Tickets are $5 for the performance.
There is also a new $1 admission fee to the exhibits, which will be on the HCC campus at Duncan Hall, the Health Sciences Building and the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center.
Free onsite parking is available. Food vendors and trucks will also be nearby. For more information or to register for Hannon’s free lecture, visit hocomasteraging.eventbrite.com.