There are many reasons why older people are driven to set up a business.
Age discrimination in the workplace makes it a lot harder for people to get employment later in life, so those needing extra income to supplement their pension sometimes find it easier to become self-employed to generate extra dollars.
Later in life, people have fewer obligations because children are (hopefully) independent by then, and the mortgage is either paid off or close to it. The lack of financial pressures creates freedom to experiment with new ways of earning a living.
Some older entrepreneurs are merely fulfilling a long-held dream of following a passion or a creative path and are driven more by achieving the dream than the financial reward.
Finding a purpose of life after the end of employment is yet another reason people choose to start up a business. Retirement, as we know, can last a long time, and in the early years, it’s good to continue to be active as long as possible. It is great to see those who have acquired vast knowledge and skills during their working life find ways to continue to be productive in society, especially at a time when there are labour shortages, particularly for skilled people.
Massey University has been working on a five-year study of why people over the age of 50 choose to start a business. They have found five distinct groups of people:
1. The ‘difference makers’
People who want to make a difference in the world and leave a legacy of change, for example, by exploring new forms of energy.
2. The ‘direction changers’
People who have an epiphany or inflection point where they say, “ Do I want to be doing this for the rest of my life? No, I want to do something different.”