More and more baby-boomers are launching their own small businesses.Jeff Williams, founder and CEO of Bizstarters.com, a website for baby-boomer entrepreneurs discusses the advantages of starting a business later in life.
What’s The Deal with Boomer Entrepreneurs Ivy Hartman: 76 million baby boomers are expected to retire over the next 20 years. However, some of them are just getting started. More and more baby boomers are launching their own small businesses and with us is Jeff Williams, founder and CEO of bizstarters.com, a website for baby boomer entrepreneurs. Now over the last 20 years, Jeff has presented business startup training and coaching with thousands of new boomer business owners and having started two businesses himself after the age of 50. He is also the author of eight workbooks, guides and DVD’s on business start up including his latest workbook which we have here, “The Ultimate Boomer Business Start-Up Guide”. Welcome Jeff, thank you for being here. Jeff Williams Thank you very much, Ivy. Ivy Hartman: Absolutely. We’ll talk about how many, actually how many over 50 are starting their own businesses now? Jeff Williams: Well, it is estimated by the small business administration that about 5.6 million. Ivy Hartman: Over five and a half million? Wow and what is the most popular choice for them? Jeff Williams: Well, I do not know if there is a single choice that is popular but probably selling services or some kind either to businesses or consumer is the most popular category. Ivy Hartman: How does this flat rate you know, five and a half million at this point are expected to see growth over the next few years and how does it compare to other age groups? Jeff Williams: Well, first of all, let me talk about the comparison. Ivy Hartman: Okay. Jeff Williams: This really surprise a lot of people when the SPA did the survey last year. About 16% of the people over 50 indicated they were either about to become self employed or already self-employed. Now, this compared with about ten percent of people under age 35 and this really surprised people because the media, particularly certain business magazines will really have you believed that the entrepreneurial boom in America is driven by the younger people. You know the “dot com” type people, and certainly they are still there. I mean the people who founded “YouTube” are 22, 23 years old and that is an exception statistically. In terms of growth, one of the things that is really attractive about the boomer entrepreneur market is that it is growing in double digits, and they really are not that many consumer markets of any kind in the United States that are growing in double digits anymore. Every eight seconds, somebody turns at 60 and this year four million people turned at 62 which means that they are eligible for early draw of self-security. And I have learned from surveying many, many 50 plus boomers that when they can get even that minimal self security benefit, say 1500 a month it seems to give them a sense of confidence that they have enough extra little for the financial cushion that they are really ready now to do their entrepreneurial thing. Ivy Hartman: Well, speaking of that, what is the primary reason that you are finding with your clients and some of these other boomers who are looking to start their own business, the reasons for wanting this to become an entrepreneur. Jeff Williams: Well, I think first and foremost is financial. The reality is that a lot of boomers who have put in 30 years in the corporate world and I am not going to say that jobs have not been satisfying to some degree but not always. I know I was in the corporate world for just under 20 years and I had seven different jobs, and of the seven I really only say three where outstanding. The other four were, you know, not so great. So a lot of boomers have really sacrificed personal fulfillment in order to pay the bills. Technically for college educations. Ivy Hartman: Right. Jeff Williams: So now at age 58, 59, 60 whatever the kids are out of the house or about to be out of the house, I think that the number one motivation the boomers are expressing is, “Hey, it is time for me now, it is time for to really go back to the basis what, what gives me the great sense of satisfaction outside of work and I will do that entrepreneurially. Ivy Hartman: What do you think the biggest concern or obstacles are then for people this age looking to start their own business. Jeff Williams: I think the biggest concern is the misconception that it is incredibly complex and expensive to start a business, because it is neither. We obviously; my company is dedicated to making the process easier for you and more cost effective but many of our start up clients are launching for well under 10,000 dollars. Ivy Hartman: So now that you’ve got more time, I think that also that entrepreneurs have a hard time letting go of that corporate job or that job who has provided that security for so long, I do not care what age you are as a small business owner. So now that you have kind of pitched to me that I can probably make my living for, you know, with less than 10,000 dollars so you see many are around that. I am still thinking about, “Do I hold on to my job, or do I start a fulltime.” What do you usually advice your clients? Is it different for a 50 generation? Jeff Williams: Well I encourage them obviously, because I am an entrepreneur. Ivy Hartman: Yes, that is right. Jeff Williams: To push the edge, but I will tell you there is a couple of factors. Let me just talk in numbers for a minute. There are about 25 million boomers that are over 55 years old that are telling surveyors that they do not want to stop working after age 60. So we are looking at about 25 million, whether there is no way the corporate world is prepared to have 25 million people over 60 continue to work. This is not the way the system works. I remember when I was a young 30 something MBA the way I got my first executive position was when a 62-year-old guy retired. I stepped in, that is the way it works in the corporate world. So number one reality here is that, it is not a question of the boomers who are 59 or 60 saying to their employers, “I want to stay on.” A lot of cases they are not being offered that opportunity. Ivy Hartman: Right. Jeff Williams: Secondly, there has been all kinds downsizes, and in the 2000 recession for the very first time in America, a larger proportion of people over 50 were laid off than ever before. I cannot tell you exactly what percentage it was but it was significant, I mean almost three million people over 50. So in some cases, it is not even where they get to a point where they 50 and a 59 and have the elective opportunity to go to the company and say, “Can I continue to work?” and they have already been downsized several years before this. So, and then of course you got the third category which is saying, “Hey, I put in 30, that is enough, I am done, I want a less stressful life.” I know in my case I was one of the very few entrepreneurs who ended up working fewer hours per week as an entrepreneur than I work as a corporate manager. Ivy Hartman: And you are working for yourself? So that fulfillment is a little different. Jeff Williams: Absolutely. You know psychologists will tell you that we all have stress and we all deal with stress differently but one of the big determinants on whether stress destroys your life or builds your life is how much sense of control you think you have in stress. In the corporate world quite often, you feel like the victim, I never feel like a victim as an entrepreneur. Ivy Hartman: That well it. I am glad you put it that way especially since you mentioned that the corporate world is going to be maybe severing their time with some other employees or reaching that age 62 mark or over, and so you need to look at some of those options on which you are going to have to do about that being an entrepreneur is one of those great things. Jeff, thank you for all these helpful advice, and if you want more information and advice from Jeff, he has joined our team of featured advisors’ right here on SBTV.com as our expert on boomer entrepreneur.