Friday, June 12, 2009

Boomer Biz

80,000 Americans turn 60 every single day*

I look at the financial mayhem that just befell the world, and I know that it is hitting all parts of society hard.

I think the style of entrepreneurship that I've written about here is especially suited to boomers. I think that there is a clear need for information about slow paced startups that offer not only a realistic return but importantly, a path for the new entrepreneur to make a contribution to their communities. There is a real potential for creating millions of new small businesses from within this demographic. Scaled right and planned appropriately, this path could offer many of my boomer peers additional financial security and a chance to make a difference.

This is not the only demographic that needs help, but I think the tools and approach of sustainable work fit this bunch the best.

Plus, as a fellow traveler well into boomer-hood, I don't have to be polite to my peers. I get to tell it like it is.

Taking the time to research what you love is the first step. Let the research take you into challenging directions, not the same-old, same-old. Learn from the wonderful young people and all the things that we're inclined to run from. Embrace it. Take the opportunity to slow down and make changes that utilize the new digital and cultural tools that are appearing. Then hurry up and try them out.

Are you going to get rich with your boomer startup? It happens, but the strongest likelihood is that if you plan it right, you'll be able to make a sustainable job for yourself going forward. One that won't be dependent on distant corporate managers or the vagaries of the specific geography you live in.

If you team up to market yourself with like-minded peers of all ages, you can bolster the chances of success for all of you.

It does not take a lot of money to start most new enterprises. It takes the kind of skills and knowledge that most boomers have, but often don't value: time, patience, deep understanding of a specific subject, the ability to see beyond the immediate crisis.

Is Boomer Biz for everyone? Surely not. Is it a viable option that many of us should be exploring? You bet. Boomers and self enterprise are a perfect match!

I was just at a meeting of the Inventor and Entrepreneur Club in Vernon County, WI. This club is run by one of the best economic development pros I am privileged to know, Sue Noble. There were about 50 people attending. All were looking for new ideas to help them launch or improve their new enterprises. As they went around the room telling their own stories, the new ideas flowed and the inspiration just kept getting more compelling. Certainly there were young people in the group, but the vast majority were boomers starting new businesses or boomers just beginning to explore a way to put a toe into that water.

It was so cool to see peers my age just flat out excited about learning new skills and trying new things. They were challenging themselves. They were alive. It was just a really fun room to be in.

If you are a boomer take the time to start acquiring the skills to create your own small enterprise. Done right, it may be the best security you can create for yourself in this economy. More importantly, we can help create a new, better and more secure economy that benefits everyone in society.

It's not hard. It's just new. Deep breath. You can do it.

Vernon County, WI Economic Development

*Fast Company June 2009 p. 103 .

No comments: