Starting a business when you are over 50-a growing trend?


Over 50? Don’t buy a caravan, start a business.

Is starting a business when you are over 50 the new normal?

Owning a business is an attractive idea for many people, which includes those over 50.

When you search Google for “over 50’s” you will likely find adverts for car insurance, healthcare, and funeral plans. Likewise, you will find images of healthy, happy grey-haired couples and caravans.

What you won’t find is content about quinquagenarians (apparently that’s the name of 50-59 years age group) becoming new business owners. Consequently, we assume that starting a business when you are over 50 is not common.

You could even go as far to ask is, “boomer business booming ?” although we think that’s a bit too corny.

The over 50 entrepreneur is bursting out

A survey published by the National Australia Bank in 2018 shows that 32% of the Australian adult population “like the idea of owning their own business.”

Now we think that’s impressive with nearly 1 in 3 adults who “like the idea of owning a business.”

Furthermore, it gets more interesting when we look at the age profile in the survey.

Breaking the age brackets down reveals that 19% of the over 50-year-olds answered: “I would love to own my own business.”

Arguably, it’s even more impressive that nearly 1 in 5 respondents over 50 still have the entrepreneurial spirit.

So, in a world where digital technology is ever-increasing, it might surprise you that starting a business when you’re over 50 has such high appeal.

The starting a business when you are over 50 trend

The report also took into account the demographics moving into small business ownership over the previous five years; hence, we can see some patterns.

Not surprisingly, Gen Y is tech-savvy and seem to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit with their numbers increasing by 5% over the last five years.

Digital disruption is appearing everywhere, and therefore we are not too surprised by this.

After all, you would perhaps expect this from the more digital native age groups.

However, compared to the previous five years, the over 50’s were the fastest-growing cohort at 30%.

Wow…now that’s impressive!

The big Why?

The motivators given for this business ownership were also a little surprising with the top reasons being:

  • Be your own boss
  • Work flexibly
  • Sense of achievement
  • Financial rewards

Here’s the fascinating bit. Only 1 in 4 said, “it was for financial rewards.” We should point out that these answers are across all the age groups.

It’s noteworthy that the main sentiment is chasing the notion of choice and lifestyle.

We can’t tell more detail from the report, but it begs the question of what’s driving the over 50 entrepreneurial boom.

Possible driving factors for the over 50’s starting a businesses trend

The over 50’s may have more financial independence and, therefore, are in a position to “have a go.” It could be their last “career” chance to do what they want and enjoy some freedom.

Remember the saying “with age comes wisdom.” These budding entrepreneurs have acquired a lot of experience, which might give them confidence about owning a business.

The ageism in many organizations toward this group may mean that getting a new job is now harder for them than starting a business .

Perhaps a part-time or lifestyle business that keeps them active and contributes to their income is a perfect option.

These individuals may be at the peak of their career and seize the opportunity to use business as a significant wealth creation opportunity for themselves.

Redundancy from employment may be a motive to do something new.

Challenges and Opportunities

It’s probably a fair assumption that many employees “like the idea of owning their own business.”

For people who have experienced long careers in employment, business ownership can look alluring and easy. A business might be particularly tempting for those in large corporations or public organizations.

We know, however, that the reality of owning a business is often very different to the image. Sometimes the experience of owning a business can be positive, but regrettably, sometimes, it can be very detrimental.

It’s a sobering thought that statistically, most new businesses will fail.

In Episode 3 Understanding Your Motivation, we explore some of the trends driving new entrepreneurs in more depth.

Understanding Business Ownership

Business is not just about skills and business plans but also about the knowledge, motivation, and mindset for a long-term success that you enjoy.

Understanding the reality of owning a business is an essential part of the success equation.

Our Podcasts follow a specially developed pathway to help you decide if owning a business is right for you.


Brendan Barrow Co-Host

The Should I Own A Business Podcast-Listen Before You Leap.