Starting a Business After Age 50: A Look at Baby Boomers and Entrepreneurship
When you hear the word “startup” most often you think of millennials. Known as the “go-getters,” it’s no surprise that entrepreneurship is associated with this generation. In fact, a poll revealed that 54 percent of the nation’s millennials either want to start a business or already have started one, and another 11 percent planned to start one within the next year.
Startups are everywhere, and there’s a plethora of successful millennials behind them. Just look at companies like Facebook, Mashable and Dropbox: small ideas of the “younger crowd” that have now flourished into multi-million dollar businesses.
It’s easy to assume that Gen Y is in fact the “startup generation,” but with most things in life, we must be careful when making assumptions. Just like in everyday situations, the “ages” behind today’s small businesses may not actually be what they seem.
That’s why Recruiter.com wanted to give our readers some facts when it comes to the entrepreneurial world, and to help do this, we snagged small business owner, Jeff Mariola.
Mariola is the CEO of Digital BrandWorks, a digital consultancy which specializes in representing manufacturers in the digital marketplaces. Like many others, Mariola left Corporate America to create his very own startup. But unlike what many others may assume, Mariola began this endeavor in the latter half of his career…as a Baby Boomer.
Read on to discover what Mariola had to say about why he decided to follow his entrepreneurial dreams after age 50 and the truth behind Baby Boomers and the nation’s startup activity:
1. The Kauffman Foundation research suggests that every year from 1996 to 2007, Americans ages 55- 64 had roughly a one-third larger rate of entrepreneurial activity than those aged 20-34. Why do you think Americans tend to assume that only younger generations go into the entrepreneurial field?
I attribute it the amount of press technology startups get in the media. Most people associate technology advancements with Generation Y and X.
2. Why did you decide to leave Ambius to start your own company?
During the last 4 years of my time at Ambius I was trying to do a MBO of my Division. I set a hard date of July 2012 as a deadline for me to either acquire the business or leave and pursue finding a new opportunity. My network of CEO’s that I am very close with have over the last few years encouraged me to strike out on my own.
3. What was it like to go from an international company to a small startup with just a few staff members?
Exhilarating. You are able to impact the business immediately and have deeper relationships with your colleagues. The challenge is to understand pace and how fast the team can absorb change.
4. Do you miss any benefits or perks of traditional “Corporate America”?
5. If you had the opportunity to go back in time, would you have started your company at an earlier age?
Yes. All things happen for a good reason so I have no regrets about waiting until I was 58.
6. If you had to offer advice to a Boomer with entrepreneurial aspirations, what would you tell him/her?
Take Stephen Covey’s advice “Seek first to understand then be understood.” Most work forces today are cross generational. Tapping in to what inspires colleagues from all age bands requires a lot of interpersonal skill.