“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” — C.S. Lewis.
Did you know that 61% of baby boomers would want to work after their formal retirement? A Bobson college report found that people owned 51 % of small businesses over the age of 50. This shows that, when they are in their senior years or approaching their retirement, they like to have a business, to have more control. This could be because they have some spare money now which they can invest in their own business. It’s a new dynamic in our world today.
We had Paul Tasner on our show who is one such example. Paul is an entrepreneur who started his first business when he was 66 years old, and he has a Ted talk as well about this. He’s the CEO of a successful company called Pulp Works, which was formed in response to the worldwide plastic pollution crisis. He also co-founded a company earlier this year. It’s called Sort Inc., which creates technologies to measure waste in this world.
Paul had several good positions throughout his career, but it was always under someone else. He always had a yearning to do something entrepreneurial, but never could quite get beyond the desire. When he was let go from his last position, he was 64 years old at the time. After working as a consultant for a while, in 2011 Paul launched Pulp Works.
In Pulp Works, they design and manufacture packaging, using waste material, paper, and agricultural waste, they mold that waste into packages for all manner of goods, consumer products, electronics, food, cosmetics, and many, many other product categories. The idea was to create new jobs through their manufacturing and creating packaging that was replacing plastic packaging.
Nobody was about to cough up the several millions of dollars they needed to bring their venture into creation. After a series of humiliating experiences trying to raise money, they decided that it wasn’t worth the humiliation and that there were other options. And that other option was to outsource their manufacturing. Paul had several partners who were partners of his when he was employed. These were the companies he’d become familiar with. They had a track record of working together, and it felt like a good and safe and comfortable way to build a new business.
According to Paul, for the most part, there are no aha moments. These were the kind of ideas that grow slowly but surely and build and organically, you don’t just wake up one day with this incredible thought or idea. But for the most part, he feels it’s a process, and it could be a lengthy one. In his case, it took two years before he was sure where he wanted to go and where he wanted to be.
Advice from the Older Entrepreneur
Always try to raise money to spend less time enduring some humiliating interviews to raise the money. Match your partner’s skills with what you need for the business and look for a partner with a strong sales background. You need a partner to share the expenses with, but more importantly, it gives you somebody to celebrate with, somebody to cry with, someone to bounce ideas off of solving. You won’t have to become a tiresome nuisance at home because there’s somebody else to share all these challenges with on the business level.
Finding the Capital
Start your savings early because launching something that is not a brick and mortar business. It doesn’t take up an enormous amount of money unless you’re hiring a lot of expensive people to do fancy things. The significant asset is to have several manufacturing partners. The takeaway here is that if someone starts a business in the later years, their credibility and their trust and the relationships and friendships, which they have built over the past 30, 40, 50 years in their previous jobs, might pay off big time. Do most of your work from home and make sure it is well-integrated into your life at home. Learn to use technology – the internet is the best tool for communication.
Key Advice for Older Adult Entrepreneurs
If you are thinking of launching your own business because there’s great value in building on your experience and instead of starting fresh. It’s great if you’ve always wanted to begin a carpentry business even while you were engaged as an engineer or an accountant, and you’ve always wanted to start a carpentry business, and you’re a skilled carpenter because you’re passionate about it, which is different. A lot of people take on entrepreneurial activities that are new to them, just because they want to be an entrepreneur. Why not stick to something you know rather than venturing into something new and unknown?
If you were an accountant, consider an accounting business for yourself rather than something radically different because you’ll be building on your expertise, you’ll be relying on your experience, and you’ll be doing it for you. Don’t let society or societal norms stop you from being an entrepreneur if that’s what you’ve always wanted to be. Retirement life can be more than just golfing and resting.