Entrepreneurs over the age of 50 are one of the fastest-growing groups of new business owners. For age 50-plus individuals, entrepreneurship offers an opportunity to use knowledge and experience that has been gained during a lifetime and put it toward creating a new business that can be rewarding and challenging.
Considering that there are 76 million people over the age of 50 in the United States, encore entrepreneurs are becoming a powerful economic force. And this is why the SBA has teamed up with AARP state offices nationwide. This summer, SBA has launched a new Summer of Encore Mentoring initiative, which has grown from one day in 2012, to Mentor months in 2013 and 2014, to an entire summer filled with events specifically designed to help encore entrepreneurs start or grow a small business. Encore entrepreneurs will be matched with successful business mentors and experts who will lend advice and assistance.
We know this kind of coaching can be critical for the success of a small business. Because our data shows that when entrepreneurs have a long-term counseling relationship with SBA, they achieve stronger sales, higher profits and more hires than their competition.
The number of Americans age 50+ who are working or looking for work has grown significantly over the past decade. This is expected to continue to increase. In fact, 35% of the United States labor force will be age 50+ in 2022. This compares to just 25% in 2002, which makes small business ownership a good option for many baby boomers.
Throughout June, July and August, SBA district offices, state AARP offices and SBA resource partners will host events around the country. Events include speed mentoring, which allows mentors with small business experience and entrepreneurs to share information during one-on-one counseling sessions and workshops for entrepreneurs to learn best practices from successful small business owners. To find a local event near you go to www.sba.gov/encore.
Free online courses targeted at helping encore entrepreneurs start or grow their businesses are also available at www.sba.gov/encore.
In addition, SBA will be hosting a webinar series to help current and potential encore entrepreneurs. For more information and to register, visit www.aarp.org/moneywebinars.
There’s no better time to start a business than today. For Americans, especially those over age 50, why not make this summer a fresh start to the next chapter of your career?
Calvin Goings wrote this article. He is a regional administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration and a former Pierce County Council member.