WISE Entrepreneurs

Posted: December 7, 2014 by Chuck Matthews in Culture, Ecosystem, People, Startup

“Wisdom begins in wonder.” Socrates

Dr. Chuck MatthewsWhen it comes to new venture creation, never underestimate the power of experience and expertise. While there is no lack of attention appropriately focused on young entrepreneurs, the 50+ entrepreneur set has been quietly leading their own entrepreneurial revolution. Research by the Kaufman Foundation suggests that twice as many successful entrepreneurs are over 50 as under 25.

Interest in the “post-retirement entrepreneurship” movement is due in part to the numbers of baby boomers “aging up” but who are far from slowing down. The indomitable music icon, Cher, once challenged that she was too old to be singing rock n’ roll, reportedly replied, “You’d better check with Mick Jagger.”

In fact, fast food entrepreneur Ray Kroc was 53 when he transformed the McDonalds brothers single store into what would become a global phenomenon; Theodore Geisel, better known by his pen name, Dr. Seuss, was 54 when he wrote The Cat in the Hat; Colonel Harland Sanders was 61 when he conceived and created the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise; Ronald Reagan was 69 when he became President of the United States; and entrepreneur and arguably the founding father of today’s fitness industry, Jack Lelane, was 70, when handcuffed and shackled, he towed 70 rowboats with 70 people, one and half miles.

What is accounting for and fueling this new age of entrepreneurs?

Longevity. As life expectancy has increased, the prospects of encore jobs, new venture start-ups, volunteer work and more has also increased.

Healthy Lifestyle. Diet, exercise, and nutritional information have boosted the quality of life as the population ages.

Retirement incentives. Bolstered by successful careers and the prospects of living longer and healthier, early retirement is no longer seen as a fading away, but rather a transition to our next achievement.

Access to information. The world is at our fingertips, only a few clicks away. Access to information and knowledge provides new thinking, options, resources, and more that inform our interest in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Family. Time with family is one of our most precious resources. Renewing and strengthening our ties with family are often motivators in seeking an encore career that allows flexibility to pursue a new venture and have family time.

I refer to the 50+ entrepreneurs as the “WISE” Entrepreneur Generation. Taken collectively, these factors provide a powerful dynamic for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Wisdom. Wisdom can only come with time and that is definitely something folks in the 50+ age group favor! Gaining wisdom is neither automatic nor sufficient to spur start-up activity, but it can serve as a guiding beacon to show options and paths that cannot be as easily seen in youth. Wisdom is acquired and absorbed from experience and learning. Leading a life seeking new horizons, meeting new people, stepping outside your comfort zone now and then, there is a good chance wisdom is something you have acquired over time.

Intellect. Curiosity fuels future dreams. With time, you know it is not about always having the right answer, but more about asking the right question. With age and experience comes greater capacity to reflect, reason, and think things through. This process fuels ideation and conceptualization of identifying problems and proposing solutions that can form the basis of a product and/or service that adds value to an unserved and/or underserved market.

Savvy. With age often comes understanding which at times eludes the young mind. It emerges from understanding the importance and influence of perspective. Over time, the more practical knowledge you acquire, combined with common sense and perspective, is a powerful insight into solutions to problems that spawn new ventures.

Experience/Energy/Effort. While younger entrepreneurs certainly have the energy and are willing to expend the effort, the WISE entrepreneur has the power of all three. While it could be argued that the older we become, the less energy we have, folks living a healthier lifestyle often feel that they have more energy than when they were younger.

Thinking about an encore new venture start-up? Build on your wisdom, tap your intellect, bring it to life with some savvy, experience, energy, and effort. Till next time, all the best for continued entrepreneurial success!

 

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